Today marks the first Monday of my unemployment. For the past four years, this particular day has been the scariest of all. But not today. I left my job as a transcriber gone Friday and I guess I’m done with business transcription for good! I always knew I’ll be quitting someday but I just didn’t know whether I had the guts to type out a polite resignation letter. We tend to find a comfort zone and then get stuck in it, not knowing what lies beyond that perfunctory farewell mail.
Two years ago, I wrote this piece commemorating my completion of two years in the industry! But as of now, I can claim to be a former transcriber instead of a transcriber. What a relief! No matter how accomplished a transcriber you are, it's always a pain to explain what transcription is all about. And trust me, not many people are aware of it. I’m sure even you don’t know much about it. (So, you don't know what transcription is all about, huh? I wish I had that privilege!) Unfortunately, the greatest thing about transcription does not exist. The corporate clowns speak. The listless transcribers discern. The editors curse transcribers for shoddy work. The transcription industry yawns.
A:- "Which one is easier when you're dead sleepy – transcribing or editing?"
I joined transcription after I dropped out of engineering college. It was like an escape or a detour or something to ease my cluttered mind. I just needed a job and got one and stayed with it for the consecutive four summers. Much to my colleagues’ amusement, I often joke that I drained 4 years of my not-so-precious life for the *betterment* of this industry. You see, transcription requires a very basic skill – listening. And not many of us carry a good pair of unbiased ears. A lot of joinees discontinue, unable to take the stress. Yes. There is a very stress-friendly environment out there with the blaring microphone latched on your pate; eyes rolling; fingers tap dancing; a leg placed on pedal to adjust the flow. In spite of all these hyperbole, the job is rewarding to those who know for sure why they got themselves into this nocturnal number-chasing rigmarole! ‘
The next level of progression for a transcriber is to become an editor. Editor’s job looks easy but is way too tedious and arduous, too. For me, if you’re are transcriber and aspiring to be a better transcriber, you’re screwed. Your aim should be to be ANYTHING other than to be a transcriber. An editor, perhaps. Or a Quality Analyst or a manager or the CEO of the damn company.
Of course, this shows the kind of transcriber I am. I mean I was. Every time I watch an English movie without subtitles, I realize how terrible a transcriber I turned out to be. Being a lousy transcriber, I hated my profession from the bottom of my fingers. My typing was not an issue. 90 WPM is my bitch! Even the foreign accents were not an impediment provided the audios were of good quality. My issue was I just couldn’t find out the reason why I wasn’t in some other job that involved writing – to be a writer – the ones who are able to accurately transcribe what the voices in their head dictates.
The unfavouritest quote in transcription: "Please standby. We are about to begin."
As a kid, my only ambition was to become Mowgli. I don’t know when exactly Mowgli got replaced by Transcriber. How life transforms from chasing dreams to chasing deadlines! As a solace, Transcriber is the superhero who types so quick that sparks fly from his fingertips, not to mention his bleeding ears. Professionally speaking, the fact that Lord Ganesha ‘transcribed’ Mahabharata was a huge consolation for me.
The favouritest quote in transcription: "And we have no further questions. You may now disconnect."
People ask me why I quit and that too in the middle of the fiscal year. I could have stayed back 4 more months and collected my annual bonus and then quit. On top of that, I recently got a raise. My colleagues are basically perplexed. Nothing new but I had many benefits in this job which I’m not entitled to anymore. They always had a hunch that I am a moron but this abrupt act of leaving confirmed their doubts.
To be honest, I myself have no particular reason or answers. Perhaps I just wanted to be blissfully unemployed. Anyway, for a two-bit transcriber, I was way too busy. Secondly, my health was suffering too. My former sleep pattern jumped out of the window and committed suicide. I can say I was healthy once upon a time and then I joined this ball-busting industry. My ears have grown deaf, too. In fact, partial deafness is the first sign of becoming a brilliant transcriber. But in my case, the brilliance got replaced by a higher volume of deafness.
I know I’m sounding pathetic and unprofessional. But let me remind you, a jobless guy can’t afford to be professional. Besides, they'd call you unprofessional in case you died transcribing in the office. Even if you are the world’s finest transcriber, you'll never hear an ant sing or a heart break. And then one fine day, your will be speaking in a strange accent and your job would have rubbed off on you.
Stuff you don’t ask a transcriber during quarter peak season: "How are you?"
There were things I liked about my job. For instance, we work in absolute silence. Transcribers appreciate silence. In reality, no one appreciates silence more than a transcriber who is covering an accented conference call. Although I couldn’t become a good transcriber despite spending four years on it, there are guys out there who can pick up stuff normal human ears can’t possibly replicate.
So, what next? I’ve got no idea. I don’t even have a back-up job. Most probably, I’ll stay home for a while and try to get my procrastinating ass into some writing-related work, if possible. In the meantime, also teach some SSC kids grammar for a month or so. Sleep at night for a change. Jog. Live.