Reluctant tradition

In case you have not realised it, there is an entire week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Particularly if you are a freelancer, you have to decide what you are going to do with that week. In this respect, it is no different to any other week of the year. Forgive the goodly dose of apparent bah-humbug in that last remark, but it is true.

One of the decisions I make throughout the year is to turn down most work involving the translation of certificates. As with the quantity of champagne I once drank, I translated far too many certificates in my youth; translating any more is bad for my health. I also ensure a certificate-free life by issuing quotations based on the estimated hours of monotony to which I would be condemning myself. Few people accept these quotations; that is their choice.

The week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is special, however. With the sole exception of 2014, when I was on holiday on the other side of the world, I have agreed each year for as long as I can remember to do one translation job involving one ghastly certificate for a single one-off client for a relatively low fee. Some tradition, huh?

First intimations of this job came from a colleague on Friday evening at about 19:15. Her third cousin, once removed, or something. I said I would do it, and she laughed when she heard my reason why. I asked her to send my address to her cousin by copying me in on an e-mail to him. She did so, requesting that we arrange things amongst ourselves. I was already bored, so only sent a quotation after lunch on Saturday, and am not fussed that I did not receive a reply until minutes before midnight. I saw the man’s name flashing briefly across my smartphone.

I did not bother to read the e-mail right away. I know what it says. I confirm it the next morning. Yes, quotation accepted. I shove all my reluctance about conforming to this uncanny tradition into my back pocket, and get on with the job.

You are probably still wondering why I just don’t tell myself to stop entertaining stupid ideas as to the traditional nature of this folly. I cannot. It’s like grammar, in one respect: there are exceptions to every rule, and this is one of them.

Meanwhile, I have learned how to add 3D animations to still photos in Office 365 (cannot be uploaded here due to security reasons), and I have noticed that the Portuguese Tax department is not consistent across its vast effing website as to the application of Acordo Ortográfico (Orthographic Reform) to all the text one habitually has to wade through.

©2018 Allison Wright

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