Rosie the RISE InterpreterHello Interpreters,

Team with an interpreter who was not much of a “team”? Encounter a Deaf client who’s had too much to drink?  Have a Hearing customer asking you to do something inappropriate? “Do, do??”

The interpreting field can be tough! We often work alone, without fellow interpreters to talk to or ask for feedback. I often hear comments like, “I love my job, work hard, and want to do the best for my clients but sometimes, I’m just not sure what to do.” Stop second guessing yourself and ask me, Rosie the RISE Interpreter!!

Submit your question to and I’ll share my advice.

Remember to keep all assignment related info confidential! You know the drill…no names, dates or identifying information. Selected letters will be answered here on our blog.

 Interpreting is tough, but so are we! Together, We Can Do It!!

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Peeved, Broke, and Choking!

Written by Rosie on .


Dear Rosie,

I was working on a team assignment and my team was late, and I started the assignment and I was also the last interpreter on the hot seat, and my team left early.  I don't know if they billed for the entire time, but I felt it was unfair. What should I do?

-Peeved in Pomona


Dear Peeved in Pomona,

Assuming you were working this assignment through an agency, I would suggest you contact the agency to confirm your billing time and let them know you worked both the beginning and end of the assignment without a team.  Let the agency do their part and follow up with the other interpreter to clarify their actual start and end time. It is possible that your team reported their actual work time. Then again, maybe they didn’t. Since that’s an issue between the other interpreter and the agency you may not ever find out. One of the benefits of working with a good agency is that they will handle scheduling and interpreter issues like this. Let them take care of it.

Dear Rosie,

What should I do if I’m booked on a short assignment for one agency and another agency offers me an all day or longer assignment for the same day. I really need the money especially since the holidays were so slow. Is it ok to give back that short assignment so I can take the longer job with the other agency?

-Broke in Beaumont


Dear Broke in Beaumont,

We've all had to face that decision, many times. You just accepted a 2 hour assignment from an agency, then, 10 minutes later you get a call from another agency for an 8 hour assignment that same day! Ugh....timing!! Here's the deal, it's an unprofessional practice to give back an assignment after making a commitment to an agency without a valid reason such as illness, emergency or unforeseeable circumstance.  When you give back an assignment, it requires more work for the agency staff to fill that assignment again and an inconvenience when considering how many other factors involved in scheduling.  In the short term, you would be gaining monetarily by taking the longer assignment instead of the shorter one.  In the long run, it will have a negative effect on your relationship with the agency and your professional reputation resulting in fewer work opportunities.  Chances are if you are willing to do it once, you would find ways to rationalize your decisions and do it again and again. In my experience, the work seems to all balance out in the end. I know we've all got bills to pay, Starbucks to drink, etc. but having a good reputation in this field is important. Keep your commitments. 

Dear Rosie,

I am a freelance interpreter and was working on assignment with a team.  When my team wasn't on the hot seat he/she would leave the room and came back strongly smelling like smoke. It was obvious to everyone in the room. I was so unsure what to do, so I did nothing.  What should I have done?  I hope I never team with that person again…..

- Choking in Colton


Dear Choking in Colton,

Irritating, I know. I see two issues here;

  1. Your team left the off chair while you were interpreting leaving you without support. 
  2. They’re stinking the place up.

 The reality is, you don't have much say in WHAT a person does while on their breaks. However, you DO have a say as to WHEN they take a break when you're working as a team.

Issue #1 - Simply tell your team that you would appreciate if they could stay put while you’re on in case you need a feed or some help (unless of course they really need a restroom break). If they have a problem with that or continue to take breaks while you are working, report it to the agency and request to not work with that interpreter again.

Issue #2 - You have a few options…….

  1.  Be upfront and tell your team that the smell of smoke is bothering you.
  2.  Douse yourself with really heavy perfume to combat the smell.....joking.

An interpreter should maintain a professional appearance and generally smelling like smoke isn’t considered professional. Although it is unpleasant, sometimes we do sometimes have to put up with other people’s choices. You can choose not to work with this person again or talk to them directly about it. Either way, you probably won’t change their smoking habits.


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