welcome to my world

Despite working from home, I have coworkers. They will always be only coworkers to me and never friends as we have a very one-sided relationship. They talk at me. I listen. Sometimes I give one or two word responses. But, they don't care and never take my words into consideration. Ever. Oftentimes, I say nothing at all as they say things that do not make sense and I greatly dislike things that do not make sense. Many times, I wish to bang my head against hard objects when they speak. But that would only hurt me. They wouldn't even care. Welcome to my world.

To be fair, I view some of my coworkers as Good Peoples. They cordially greet me multiple times during the work day. Yes, they then go and talk on and on about their life and current work issues and do not care to hear about my life and my work issues, but they'll be so cheerful about bidding me adieu when they're finished talking that I cannot help but smile and think that maybe we could be friends. If our relationship was not so one-sided, that is. 

However, some days, it feels like I only run into the Undesirable Ones. The ones I am quite certain do not like me and whose sole desires are to frustrate me and make me feel worthless. We are not friends. I wish we were not coworkers. They do not greet me. They say words but often arrange these words in nonsensical fashions. They speak quickly. They speak with hard candy in their mouths. They speak while they yawn. They speak while they cough. They speak with their hands over their mouths. They speak as if they are part Yoda, part Chewbacca, and part Darth Vader*. Their sentences are the stuff of nightmares. And to top it off, when they are finished destroying my ears and brain with their words, they just leave. They do not thank me for listening to their problems. They do not wish me a pleasant day. They do not even say good-bye. They just leave. It's a miserable one-sided relationship.

But what is life if not learning how to cope with both kinds of people? So, cope I must. And in my ever constant efforts to put everything in its proper perspective, I will now present, in further details, my coworkers.

[All names have been changed to protect the identity of blah blah blah.]

The Good
Dr. A.G.E:  She is like a bowl of rice. When I see her ID in my queue, I am immediately pleased. She is good for lines simply because her dictations are anywhere between 4 and 10 minutes. She has a set outline to her dictations and she follows it beautifully, despite dictating in a narrative form [also good for lines]. She spells out words that may be confused with sound-alikes, she dictates where she wants her paragraph breaks, and she clearly states her numbers ["Morphine 15, one five, mg."]. Her only drawback is she often dictates on her cellphone which compromises call clarity, but that is not a deterrent due to her other outstanding qualities.

Dr. Bennadio:  He is my second love. I have told Jason this, and he's okay with it. On the bad days, I only have to see his ID and my stomach actually experiences the giddy butterfly phenomenon. He can make the worst day into a more than decent day [if not grand day] in the span of an hour or so. His dictations are generally done in large batches and range from 1 to 2 minutes. Excellent line fodder. He also has a very set structure to his dictations which balances out his tendency to speak a tad quicker than is ideally preferable. I cannot even count how many weeks he has either saved or started off with a glorious bang. He's like Christmas on my birthday in the middle of a red panda habitat.

Dr. Manners:  If Dr. Bennadio had a slower speaking, more polite brother, Dr. Manners fits the bill. His greetings and thank yous and even-cadence dictating easily makes him one of the Good Guys. He doesn't follow as strict of a structure when dictating, but he has such a friendly, clear voice. Once, his dog was barking in the background. You know what he did? He stopped dictating, quieted his dog, and then resumed his dictation. And to further demonstrate what a friendly fellow he is, he even had the humor of ending his dictation with, "This is Dr. Manners dictating with the help of my dog, apparently. Good afternoon." I think we could possibly be real life friends.

Dr. One Breath:  She is a skilled dictator. She fits all of her information in less than 60 seconds and, I often imagine, all in one breath. She has about 20 different phrases that she says and that are, obviously, programmed in my autocompleter. Transcribing her dictations is the closest I can get to eating pie on the job. With the magic of Instant Text, the meat of her dictations look something like this (to my fingers):  "Pn: Dn. Sob: Yes, o2l. Sk: Iaf. Lsc. Tdoa. Dtoa. Iwmc. Iobbwc. Dysg. Ttf. Msd." Instant Text does its work and presto, 27 lines done. Under 3 minutes of logged work. [If I was ever lucky enough to get a full hour's work of just her, that would be over 500 LPH. Oh, in my dreams...]

The Bad
Dr. O'Dally:  Yes, she is an ESL doctor. Yes, I'm sure she tries hard. Yes, she can speak English better than I have ever been able to speak Spanish. But still. She doesn't give proper dates. She doesn't spell out her slurred pronunciation of the patient's name. She does have a structure to her dictations, but if she forgets a word in her memorized spiel? She starts over. From the beginning. She redictates the entire thing. She answers her phone while she dictates. She answers the door while she dictates. She hangs up in the middle of the dictation if the person on the phone or at the door is more interesting.

Dr. Makes Me Want to LIT-erally Punch Someone:  I think the name says it all. But the name also doesn't say enough. Dr. MMWLPS doesn't just make me want to punch someone, her voice and cadence and slush-mouthed speaking actually makes my stomach churn as if I just ate a block of sour tofu. If I listen to her for more than 2 minutes, it feels like someone is just punching me repeatedly. It would almost be fascinating if it were not so frustrating. Listening to her dictate and attempting to decipher it actually causes a violent physical response in the pit of my stomach that often leads to me just having to walk away from the computer. When I see her ID in my queue, I often promptly decide it's time for a lunch break. Or a bathroom break. Or a torment the cat break. Or a... You get the picture.

Dr. 134:  He is just a culmination of all the Terrible Things that a dictator should not be; poor audio quality, horrible sentences, heavily accented and slurred speech, and always seeming to need to get done as quickly as possible. But what I find to be the most frustrating part of transcribing Dr. 134 is how sometimes he'll trick me into believing that he's a changed man, that he's going to take more care with this dictation, that he's actually going to give me a break for once. Alas, the joke is always on me. He'll start off strong and then subtly deteriorate to the point of What In The World. By the time I'm done with my first pass, I have blanks galore throughout the report. But I still have hope that I'll be able to finish it and send it on to the client, so I'll slave over filling in the blanks on my second pass... only to ultimately have to send it on to QA because of one or two blanks that I just cannot make heads or tails out of. Hopes dashed. Time wasted. Sigh.

Other Mentionables
Dr. Depends on the Day:  This particular doctor is a peculiar one. She has all the characteristics of one of The Bad [poor audio quality, heavily accented, slurred speech, etc.], but I feel it would be unfair to lump her in with the ones listed above. There are exceptions [her dictations done in the middle of the day are often noticeably ickier than the ones she does after midnight (go figure)], but I generally can make a decent report fairly easily and quickly. In fact, I almost consider her my one source of transcriptional pride. Nearly anyone could transcribe Dr. A.G.E. or Dr. Manners given enough time, but I am fairly confident that most "normal" people would listen to Dr. DotD's 4-6 minute dictations and just shake their head in disbelief. But my brain actually make sense of her, and my fingers make it comprehensible to the rest of the world. It's fascinating.

Dr. Male O'Dally:  He is the male counterpart of the notorious Dr. O'Dally [above] in voice and sentence structure and general style of dictating. But weirdly enough, he is so.much.better. He still constructs sentences like, "The patient's both eyes with output yellow and small," but his ID elicits no dread or anger.

Dr. Slooooow:  Every time I get one of his dictations, I'm 93% sure he's just going to die right in the middle of dictating it. He speaks so slow that I can speed him up to the max speed and he finally sounds like he's speaking at a normal speed. If I sped up any other doctor to the same level, it would sound like an indecipherable Minnie Mouse who just sucked helium out of a balloon. Once, months went by without seeing a dictation from him. I thought for sure he had finally just retired [or worse]. But... nope. Up he pops nine months later. Still as slow. Still as wheezy. Still seemingly this close to not making it through another dictation. Luckily, even speaking at 250% normal speed, he's a very clear speaker, so I actually enjoy transcribing him.

Dr. Goomba:  This fellow entertains me to no end. He can never read the paper that he's dictating from, becomes easily frustrated with others around him and just life in general, does not understand technology, and consistently dictates female patients as males. He has given me permission to "put whatever" when he can't decide what the patient's diagnosis is. He has talked me through finding the flashlight app on his phone. He considers "blah blah blah" an acceptable trail off. I never know what to expect from him, but he has actually made me burst out laughing on multiple occasions. Jason can attest to this.

Dr. DJ:  I am not a talent scout for the next big radio show host, but I often think Dr. DJ thinks I am. He has this low, even, smooth voice and it always sounds as if he is auditioning for a spot on some late night jazz radio station.

Dr. Someone Might Hear Me:  I cannot transcribe what I cannot hear. Whispers do not translate well over the phone. Someone needs to politely convey this information to this doctor. When he dictates, I picture him huddled in a corner of a closet with his hand cupped over the mouthpiece of his corded phone. He takes HIPAA precautions to a whole new level.

So. There you have it. Welcome to my world. My coworkers, in a surprisingly large nutshell.

While the argument could be made that my fellow transcriptionists are technically my coworkers, I would make the counter-argument that I have even less of a relationship with them than I do with the doctors whom I transcribe. Sure, like I said at the beginning of this post, the relationship I have with the doctors is totally and completely one-sided but my relationship with the other transcriptionists at my company is... no-sided? And I really do not mind this. I genuinely consider this a perk of my job. The doctors and I may never be Friends, but I think they fit the bill for title of Coworkers splendidly, one-sidednesss and all, The Good and The Bad.

This is my 9-5 world. Welcome.

I want to eat these so much right now. And no, this picture has absolutely nothing to do with this entire post.

*You have no idea how pleased I was with myself for referencing three different nerd cultures... until I realized they were all from the same silly thing. [At least, I think they are... Vader -> Father of Yoda -> Owner of Chewbacca? By golly, I am terrible at this.]


soccer again

Well, our soccer team has continued to improve for the last couple years, both through improving the players we have and through finding friends to play who are good. We just finished a season and have built a pretty decent team and gelled together pretty well as a team. Early in the season we had trouble getting enough players to show up, but once we found a few more players and all got used to playing together, we've done pretty well. Our last 4 games of the season were 2 wins, a tie, and a loss. Actually, the last two games were a win (I believe it was our first winning streak ever). We ended in 6th place out of 8.

Every team makes the playoffs this season (since there were 8 teams, which is a round number for playoffs), so we actually would have made the playoffs regardless of the number of wins, but in 6th place our first playoff game is against 3rd place. The only other season I remember us making the playoffs was in 8th of 8, and we had to play 1st place. Obviously 3rd is preferable, though we lost to most of the teams who placed above us during the regular season. Oddly enough, our tie was actually against the team that finished in 1st, although the team that was in first for most of the season lost their last two games (we think because of missing players) and ended up in... 3rd.

We went into the game planning to play hard but probably lose. We were playing a team that beat us by at least 5 goals, if memory serves. But that was only our 3rd game, before we had enough players each game to really have a chance (almost anyone would lose playing the entire game with 2 or 3 too few while the other team has a full team plus subs). Well, we played pretty hard and at halftime we were only down 2-0. We'd played pretty well and had almost scored a few goals. It was close enough that some of us joked that we actually had a chance. In the second half we scored to bring us within a goal of tying it up. They seemed deflated. Our defense tightened up, and our offense kept attacking relentlessly. We played one of our best games ever (maybe our best), and we had several near goals. Finally, near the end, we tied it up. They were really frustrated and we were feeling great. We kept them from scoring any more goals, kept the pressure on their defense, and made it to the end still tied 2-2. In the playoffs, in the case of a tie you play a short sudden-death overtime, followed by penalty kicks if you're still tied. We went all the way to penalty kicks, still tied 2-2. Our guys did great, scoring 4 of 5, and our awesome goalie blocked 2 of our opponents shots, so we won the penalty kicks 4-3. Somehow we won. Three game winning streak and first playoff win.

Now we have to play the 2nd place team next week. Whoops, guess we didn't think that one through.

love is sacrifice