The other day, the poll on a translator forum asked how long we worked before taking a break. You will note that the question was not how often we take breaks. That would imply that most freelance translators stick to a rigid timetable. I, for one, cannot imagine that there are too many translators who stop work mid-sentence just because it is time for their break.
As expected – and it always make me giggle, it was only a matter of time before someone mentioned that it depends on the definition of “a break”. For translators, if something does not depend on the context, then it has to depend on the definition. Every time a coconut.
Part of the general discussion revolved around whether hanging the washing out is considered a break.
Naturally, there were contributors on either side of the line. Still others considered that loading the washing machine constitutes a break, but did not mention specifically whether they thought hanging the washing out deserved the same title.
It was no major discovery that several other respondents, like me, quite often lose track of time when translating and before they know it, hours have passed by. I went on record stating that this often resulted in me hanging out the washing four hours after the washing machine had finished its cycle. I wondered if I should reveal this particular organisational weakness of mine in a professional translators’ forum, but was feeling good about myself that day, having already hung out two loads of washing, so threw caution to the lovely warm breeze caressing the product of my attention to domestic detail out in the back.
I need not have worried about the lack of decorum: An accomplished translator with several more years of experience than I under her belt confessed to numerous occasions when she only discovered the next morning that she had completely forgotten to hang up the washed clothes.
Apparently, I was a mere toddler in the translation marathon stamina stakes and in the extent to which I am capable of ignoring clean, wet clothes.
Someone else cannot forget to hang out the washing because she sees the washing machine in the garage every morning when she takes her children to school. I felt sorry for her, never to have experienced the wicked pleasure of utter – if only temporary – neglect.
This brings us to the question of what we look at when hanging up our laundry when either taking, or not taking, our breaks. For some, washing smalls is inextricably linked with a magnificent view of Japanese mountains. For me, it is a walk “up the mountain”. It is not really a mountain, just a very steep walk of about 25 metres behind our apartment, built on a hillside.
Given that hanging out the washing is an integral part of our relaxation, is it any wonder that there is a huge preponderance of translators who are also amateur photographers?