Why didn’t I get those hours!?

Michelle Schoonderwoerd

“Why didn’t ‘I get those hours!?”
The attitude of entitlement in the interpreting community

by Michelle Schoonderwoerd

We’ve all been there… we have worked an ongoing gig, or got wind that we would be requested for future work. It’s a boost to the old ego for sure (and for the bank account as this is our source of income)! But have you checked yourself recently and paid attention to your response and/or body language when you realized you ‘didn’t’ get that job?

Have you found yourself blatantly asking the consumer questions you really shouldn’t, such as, “Well then, who is coming?” Or, “They found someone else?” Or maybe you looked at the deaf person and said, “I was available, remember, I checked my calendar.” Or maybe you aren’t as ballsy as that, but a simple, “Darn, I have NO work this week and that would have been nice!” Maybe you think a comment like that can be innocent, but have you considered how unprofessional it can be, or how you can make a consumer feel when pressuring them for information?

If we sit back and look at all the possible variables of the “why” the job went to someone else… we may start taking things less personally (which could do wonders for our self-esteem, relationships, and the acne that is presenting itself on our faces because of the unnecessary stress of wondering why the hours are not “ours”).

Here are just a handful of variables that come to mind when trying to create the perfect schedule… I am not listing them in order of importance, just jotting down what comes to mind. I am sure we could add to the list, but let’s start with these. 🙂

Client/Consumer Conflicts- These are the big kahunas that fall under the CPC. These are also the intuitive feelings that arise when you take a job and then immediately regret doing so. There may be no rhyme or reason for the conflict… it could be just because!

Teams Jiving or Hiving- This means the scheduling office may know of an issue or issues with specific teams working together, and maybe they are choosing to NOT put Humpty-Dumpty back together again, so you lost hours because you can’t play nice with others (or vice versa). Side note- we should have followed our mother’s advice and been nice to others.  

Subject Conflicts- Maybe math just ain’t your cup of tea… maybe you failed history yourself and you should NOT be interpreting this subject, or, maybe blood and guts gross you out so biology is not an option. We all have strengths and weaknesses and it’s great when our coordinators know this about us because it saves us a ton of embarrassment and anxiety when we struggle in such subjects (see the bright side of that one?). Subject and venue conflicts shouldn’t be taken personally.

Requests from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and/or the Hearing Consumers- Maybe your team got requested to do another gig with that specific client, but you didn’t… stop taking it personally and instead find a way to grab some coffee and a bran muffin with an old friend. The big points here are, we need to realize that Deaf people also have freedom of choice and they DON’T have to pick you, and they also don’t have to explain their decisions or justify their reasons.

Hours of the Day and Specific Times- Maybe you’re not a night owl and getting called at 10pm to go to the hospital isn’t something you wanted to do…so don’t be offended if a follow-up appointment of some sort is given to a different interpreter on a different day. Days and times tend to get the most blame from people when they insist “but, I ‘was’ available!” As I have explained above, though, it isn’t as easy as fitting an interpreter into a time-slot with no other variables involved.

Location- If you live 20 miles away, and another person lives 5 miles away… the closer interpreter may be asked to run over and fill a last minute gig and honestly, if we step back and look at what’s “best for the consumers”, I think we can all agree that a ‘put-together and on time interpreter’ is better than a ‘frazzled and late one.’

Skill Set- There are times  when various skills are needed for certain environments. I’m talking about soft skills (the playing nice with others), talents, personality matches, etc… The examples that immediately come to mind are: the platform interpreter that doesn’t mind the audience attention; the K-12 interpreter and the patience that it requires to work in that environment all day long; the mental health interpreter that has a natural ability and niche in that venue; and others that I am not thinking of…. These variables are also considered when scheduling and querying interpreters for jobs.

Thank goodness we come in various sizes, shapes and colors… we can’t fit square pegs in round holes and scheduling offices are basically trying to figure out how to sand down the corners of the peg to make the darn thing fit in the hole! And kudos to them… let’s toast and raise a hat to the coordinators that run through a list of all these variables on a job by job basis. I challenge my fellow rock star interpreters: Instead of asking the “whys” and “whos”, let’s start focusing on the “Yay, another Deaf person got their needs met and communication was facilitated.”

In conclusion, the next time we find out we “didn’t” get that gig… let’s professionally smile, thank the entity for the work we DID get, acknowledge and thank the Deaf consumer as well, and then scoot out to our car to drive across town to the next job. Thank goodness for the snacks and jerky in that messy car to keep us company as we drive away telling ourselves “it’s not ALL about me.” And it shouldn’t be either.

Early Bird Registration Ending Soon for IAD Summer Conference

The Idaho Association of the Deaf is showing Northern Idaho the love this summer by having their Biennial Conference up in Post Falls Idaho. Not Idaho Falls, not American Falls, not Twin Falls, but Post Falls. Post Falls is about 10 miles west of Coeur d’Alene Idaho and about 25 miles east of Spokane Washington.

The dates of the conference are:

Fri, Aug 4 – Sun, Aug. 6, 2017

2478 E Poleline Ave, Post Falls, ID

If you register before June 1st, the cost of registration is $25.00. After that it goes up to $30.00

They will be offering workshops for:
*Parents with Deaf children

Living breathing ASL interpreters will be available.

You need to register for the conference before July 7th, 2017.

How to register:


Paypal: https://www.paypal.me/nideafclub

The IAD Facebook page to watch for updates is:


Suggested Lodging Option:
Days Inn
2200 Northwest Boulevard
Coeur d’Alene, ID,
Ph: 208-667-8668
Cost: $112 + tax/night
(Book before July 20th)

This hotel is approximately 10 minutes from the conference location.

Email questions to:

See you there!

Shawn Jensen

In 1997 Shawn answered an old fashioned newspaper advertisement placed in the South Idaho Press; a newspaper that no longer exists. She, a former manager at Walmart, stood on the steps of an unknown home, took a leap of faith, and rang the doorbell.  I cannot now remember what stood out on her application/resume.  However, out of the 40 some odd respondents, she was the only one I invited for an interview.

The only thing that I recall about the interview now was that my son walked into the office during the middle of it, wearing only a towel.   We had a good laugh about that.  I suppose it’s always the laughter (and tears) that one most easily remembers.

Since Shawn couldn’t easily fit into the little home office I was using, and since there were half naked children running around much of the time, I rented a room in the lovely cinder-block office building a few blocks away.  If it was good enough for H&R Block (downstairs), it was good enough for us (upstairs).  It was one of the few office spaces available for small businesses to rent in Burley, Idaho.

Because I value surface area and had/have strong opinions on how to avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome while using a keyboard, I purchased three large 8-foot banquet tables to act as our desks!  Two facing the wall, and one between us.  Shawn, I believe, likes to mention those banquet tables to people.  I take this as evidence that she was duly impressed with the furnishings.  Actually, now that I think about it, maybe we started off with just 2, because I can visualize her sitting with papers (invoices) all around her in the center of the floor, taking on the first project of catching up on some invoicing.  Surface area!  That’s probably why the 3rd banquet table got added.  Yeah, I think that’s it.

These were, mind you, the days before cyberspace.  We created a computer network within our own office and worked on that so much that after awhile, the computer tech guy running his business out of a corner office in the same building, said “Cliff, why are you coming to me with this question, you know more about networking computers now than I do.” I can’t tell you how many times I have been lying on the floor under Shawn’s various desks over the years saying “Don’t we own a vacuum?”  “We need a snacks policy” or some such thing, while messing with computer and phone wires.  Wires wires wires.  What a mess.

The level of comfort and trust required to share an office with someone is one thing.  Being a new employee and sharing an office space with the owner of the business while speaking to vendors and customers in front of that owner is quite another. It requires courage!  Shawn had it.  Her willingness to be vulnerable, to share that space of trust over those years, to allow me to see into parts of her personal life and she into mine, without ever breaking that trust, is something that I do not undervalue.

As I recall–from a story she told me later–she only stepped out of the office once, very early on, when she became nervous with the way I was addressing a representative of MCI.  Ha!  No, it wasn’t that I was getting loud . . . just pointed.

Shawn has observed other office employees come and go.  Very early on, she remarked that she never knew if someone was going to be there the next day.  Thankfully, we eventually found Trish, and the two of them became what seemed to be fast friends and effective office mates.  We miss you Trish!

Shawn tried working from her home at least once, early on, but . . . (see half naked kids sentence above) . . . we always came back to the cinder-block building, later moving into some bigger rooms with more windows.  Yes, in time she got a big fancy desk which became a pain to transport to her home again, home again, jiggety-jig. (Thank goodness I wasn’t around that day!) Come to think of it, that desk is now gone and, well, I don’t know.  I’m losing track of what the hell is going on with desks in home offices.  I just know I haven’t had to lie ion the floor in snack debris for a long time and that she has, at home, easier access to a vacuum.

The other thing I prize about Shawn is her ability to build and sustain warm relationships with our new and long time customers and vendors over the years.  Almost all of these relationships are sustained exclusively over phone and email.  She is, perhaps, more than anyone, the most familiar audible voice associated with the company and on a first name basis with so many customers and vendors!  I appreciate the care and professional attention she has given to all of them over the years.  I know they appreciate it too.  As we went out for Shawn’s 20 year anniversary dinner in Twin Falls I realized, with the help of others, that we should have probably had the dinner in San Diego, where some of the longest and strongest vendor/customer relationships exist for her.   Perhaps for her 25th year celebration we can make that happen.

Thanks for everything Shawn!



Here’s a photograph from around 1997 of the towel boy and his siblings:

Here’s a photo of the towel boy 20 years later:

Dear readers, time passes!






You can now TEXT us


We now have a TEXT ONLY number for our customers and contractors to use.

(858) 799-0123

Please consider adding it to your cell phone address book.


Janette #deafstory

San Diego #deafstory Filming Oct 8, 2016

On Saturday October 8 2016, from 9am-4pm NIS will be filming stories of Deaf people at the San Diego Deaf Festival.  The Deaf Festival is taking place at the Jacobs Center, 404 Euclid Ave, San Diego, CA 92114.

Reserve a spot for yourself or a Deaf friend or family member whose story you wish to save! Those who participate will be given a DVD copy or link to their interview, a #deafstory mug, and a hoodie with the hashtag #deafstory on it.

Tell us your hoodie size and which time slot you would like by visiting  http://networkinterpretingservice.com/nis2016/deafstory-sign-up/

How it works:

You do NOT need to come with a story in mind because a friend, family member, or one of us, will ask you questions.  If you would like us or your family member to ask you specific questions, then we can do that.

Here are a list of great questions found on storycorps.org that anyone can borrow.

If you have any questions please email us with the hashtag #deafstory in the subject line and we will be happy to answer. You may also leave your question/comment below on this blog.

See you at the San Diego Deaf Festival on Oct 8th!


#deafstory 2016 in San Diego




ASL Only

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