A day in the life… of a tablet interpreter. A slightly exaggerated account.
My electronic wristband wakes me up again.
With gentle vibrations, it pulls me away from the warm beach of what I think is a tropical island, making me drop what I think is a non-alcoholic cocktail in the process. I press the button to make the wristband stop buzzing and roll out of bed. My feet carefully avoid stepping on my iPad, which – as usual – is propped up in a charging dock by the side of my bed. After I put on my glasses, I start my usual morning routine: checking email, browsing my Twitter timeline, reading the latest posts of my favourite publications in my RSS reader and checking my sleep quality using the data that my wristband continuously synchronises to its companion app on the tablet.
Minutes later, I emerge from the bathroom looking, hopefully, like a presentable human being and soldier on to breakfast. I have a bowl of cereals and a cup of coffee in the hope of recharging my batteries, careful not to spill either organic milk nor fair-trade coffee on my precious touchscreen. The last night was short, after all, but it was not what you think (i.e. delegates fighting over commas). Apple launched a new version of the iPad software and I, of course, had to have it as soon as possible. You idiot, I silently curse myself, as I launch the Documents app to look at my preparation material for today. One agenda and 31 files later, I am done and have looked up what felt like hundreds of fish species and fishing gear. Time to put the tablet in the backpack, together with its charger and a bunch of cables (better safe than sorry). It is a nice day for riding the bike to work. No need to consult Google Maps, I know the route by heart and have carefully planned it to lead me past a few electronics shops to be able to check out the latest gadgets during my commute.
One badge swipe at a time, I make my way to the meeting room. But not without stopping by the coffee bar to top up my caffeine level and repeat my iPad morning routine. Then I go to the booth for the first round of the day. Did I mention I can’t help feeling a bit proud when I see that many colleagues are now using tablets at work? Feels a wee bit like having started a revolution. Anyway, enough with the daydreaming, it’s my turn now. I am very happy to have my fish glossary ready in Interplex HD. Whenever the delegates mention fish species I have never heard of (which, despite my preparation, happens quite often), all I have to do is type in the term. Somehow, I make it until lunch break. Time for a quick bite and my iPad mid-day routine (email, Twitter, you get the idea…). I also try to squeeze in a few podcasts and articles to keep up with my working languages and recent developments in the tech universe and the normal world.
Before I jump back on my bike after the afternoon round of the meeting, I check the electronic grocery list I share with my wife to see if I need to get some shopping done on the way home. I don’t. So I just start the activity tracker for my bike commute and hit the road. Right at the last roundabout, it happens. That pothole, I swear it wasn’t there two seconds ago. I drive right through, or in, rather, and loose balance and fall. My backpack wasn’t zipped up properly, so the unfathomable happens. My iPad slips right out. It’s bizarre to see it flying through the air in slow-motion, just like in the movies. Smack! It lands on the street. In the corner of my eye, I see a car approaching. In slow-motion, obviously. I can make out the pattern on the tyres. Just a few centimeters to go before the retina screen shatters.
My electronic wristband wakes me up again. With gentle vibrations, it pulls me away…
Alexander DRECHSEL is staff intepreter at DG INTERPRETATION, EUROPEAN COMMISSION.0