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A Persnickety Job, but Somebody’s Gotta Do It

International Translation Day got me thinking about why I love my job as a translator.

A few years back, I was enrolled in a teacher training program that was giving me an existential crisis. There was too much noise, too much disciplining, and too many kids running around. A classmate of mine who could see I was cracking under the strain asked me—not what job I wanted—but what my ideal work environment looked like. I listed the following:

  • Stacks of books
  • A writing desk
  • Papers everywhere
  • Pens, pencils, erasers
  • Quiet
  • A window

While you’re sure to find books and pencils in a classroom, you won’t find much quiet. My current job fulfills all the criteria on my list, plus a few that seem even more important now:

  • Getting feedback on my work
  • Bouncing ideas off my co-workers
  • Losing hair over a hyphen
  • Fighting over a comma

Working with words is a persnickety job. I’ve been known to check four different dictionaries before deciding on a spelling. I wake up in the middle of the night, sweating, wishing I had taken out a comma, only to wake up hours later, certain that I wanted it there. But that’s what I love most about my job. And you?

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