Thursday, July 24, 2014

Spanish Panic

I really need some sleep.

As evidenced by a moment of panic earlier today.

Brace yourself for a lot of detail to make a very small point. You might want popcorn. I'll wait.

(I hope your microwave has that "popcorn" button, because otherwise who wants to bother with popcorn, right?)

(My current microwave does not have this button, which upsets me a little.)

OK, here comes all that detail I promised, are you ready? All comfy cozy there on the couch? Got your red vines?

Wait, we aren't watching a movie...I'm really tired.

Annnnd, commence the detail overload:

OK so we conduct these surveys at work, and a portion of each survey is a comments section, as this is pretty standard.

We collected all the surveys months ago, and it was a lot of work and thank goodness I had some great coworkers who were willing to help me because wow it was tiring.


So today I went to file the lists of the comments, because the survey process is over but my desk area needs a little tidying.

Now I live in Los Angeles so several of these comments were in Spanish.

As part of the survey process (the part that came before the finally-filing-things portion), I had a coworker help me translate these comments.

And by help me I mean she did all the translating, as I know how to say "rice" (arroz) and "excuse me" (con permiso) in Spanish, and I'm not certain there were any comments involving rice as we're not involved with the grain industry at my job.

So this very helpful coworker took the handwritten Spanish comments, and then handwrote the English translations on that same paper -- right next to its corresponding Spanish comment.

Meanwhile, I typed the English comments as well as the ones translated into English into a spreadsheet.

Then as my coworker translated the Spanish comments by hand on the paper, she gave them back to me and I typed them in English in the spreadsheet.

Is this story still captivating to you? The 9 to 5 life, guys, I tell ya. Exciting spreadsheet stuff.

Also I work 8 to 5, Dolly. If we could get a song rewrite, stat.

To review up to this point (I would venture we're about halfway through this story, maybe a third), all this happened a while ago, for the most part. So my memory with it all is not fresh.

Also, I'm really tired.

While filing the handwritten comments today, I came across several pages of handwritten Spanish comments without English translations written next to them.

This made me "Hmm," as I thought all the comment stuff was taken care of already. Why were there untranslated comments suddenly before me? (Lesson: tidy the desk sooner.)

If you think this is the panic portion of the story, I'm sorry to inform you that you're wrong.

So I went and checked my spreadsheet, and typed in the identifying comment-survey number that was attached to the Spanish handwritten comment (without an English translation handwritten next to it) to search for it in the spreadsheet.

Fully expecting nothing to turn up as a match.

Not only did it turn up, but the comment -- and several others (ALL of them) that were written in Spanish on the paper without an English translation -- were IN the spreadsheet...

...TRANSLATED into English.

Dun dun dun.

Are you freaking out with me at this point? I really hope someone is freaking out with me here.

This is when the kind of fuzzy, woozy weirdness began to seep into my environment.

I reminded myself that I'm living on about 24 hours of sleep across the past four nights, may have some residue Unisom (read: off brand Benadryl) in my system, keep calm, etc.

Eventually (3.5 minutes later; I couldn't take it any longer) I picked up the phone to talk to my translating coworker.

"I'm having a Twilight Zone moment."

Laughter, or silence, on the other end of the line -- don't remember exactly. (I'm very tired).

I explained the situation/TZ moment, and double checked that I hadn't asked her to type any comments directly into the spreadsheet, right? Meanwhile I scanned in my head our other bilingual staff (um, about half the office) and tried to remember asking someone to help me type comments.

Let me say first that my coworker also thought this was all very strange and a little alarming. OK maybe she didn't think it was alarming, quite.

Then she mentioned that didn't she write some of the translations onto another piece of paper, because it was too cramped to fit the Spanish and English comments right next to each other on the page?


Panic gone.

I honestly wondered before getting my answer to the whole conundrum if the whole thing had been an act of God, throwing me a bone here at work by hacking into my spreadsheet and translating some comments for me.

I'm hoping that a nice bowl of steamy arroz will induce some much-needed slumber this evening. Clearly I could use it.

But to be fair, that situation was pretty loco for a minute there.

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