I put interpreting into quotes because I am using that term very loosely in this story. Put yourself in my shoes.
A service man comes to the house two hours earlier than scheduled to fix the water softener. You are trying to prepare lunch. You feel confident that your husband is capable of learning what is wrong with it, so you continue about your business in the kitchen. You can hear the two men as they mull over the softener. Your husband informs the man that he is deaf. The man starts explaining things to your husband as if he can hear. Since you have nine years experience, you know the man is not talking so that your husband is able to read his lips. Again you think, “Another hearing idiot.”
Your husband is intelligent enough about water softeners and plumbing to guess at most of what the man is saying, but he is talking too fast and probably has his head turned so your husband cannot see his face. You hear your husband say, “Let’s go talk to my wife.” Ugh! Now you think, “I should have left the house when I had a chance.”
They come into the kitchen, and your husband sits on the stool, staring at you while he waits for your interpretations. The service man says he needs your water so he can test it. (You are still trying to make a meal.) As he is digging out his testing supplies, he rattles on (to you, not to your husband) about what he is doing and explains it in detail. You think, “I don’t understand what you are talking about and I couldn’t care less.”
Your husband wants to know what the man is saying, so you try to sign it. Most of the words are technical so you have to fingerspell nearly everything. You tell the man, “It is very hard for me to interpret what you are saying.” So he kindly slows down …. a little bit. As he talks you say the words as you fingerspell them so he can know how slow you are at fingerspelling and interpreting. Does this get him to slow down? Of course not.
In the meantime, your meal is still cooking. The service man backs into the stove, turning the burner dial on full blast. Your meal is boiling over. He is so engrossed in letting you know how intelligent he is that he doesn’t notice until you push him away from the stove. He says, “Oh! I was wondering why my butt was getting hot.”
He continues rattling on about the hardness of your water and you continue to interpret to your husband to the best of your “ability” (again using that word very loosely). You feel your insides churning with frustration. You again tell the service man and your husband that you are not able to interpret what this man is saying. Does anyone care? Maybe you are not firm enough. Maybe you have to leave the room and have people think you are being rude. You choose to stay and allow them to feel comfortable while you are ready to push both of them out the door.
You are so frustrated by this time, you cannot think at all. You are now a robot or a transmission line, listening to the service man and signing the words to your husband. The salesman gives you final instructions on how to regenerate the softener. These instructions are to be transmitted to your husband. He is ready to leave, but your husband asks the man to show him how to regenerate the softener. The salesman says, “He wants me to show him how to regen the softener, so I will do that before I leave.” as if he is doing some charitable deed.
After he leaves, you sign to your husband, “I hate interpreting.”
In the end you feel you have to write a blog post about your experience so you don’t explode, and to make people aware (anyone interested enough to read your post that is) that knowing a few signs does NOT make a person an interpreter. That’s why we have laws. Certainly a qualified interpreter cannot be around 24/7, but it is especially important to not push a deaf/hearing marriage (or any family member) relationship into a interpreter/client relationship.