Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Answer the Door When Opportunity Knocks.

At the very end of the movie Dumb & Dumber (SPOILER ALERT), the two protagonists are hitchhiking home after a good movie's adventure and musing over the fact that they never catch a break and some people have all the luck.

Soon Hawaiian Tropic's tour bus full of international bikini models pulls up alongside them, and several shapely young ladies mention that they're in need of two guys to be their oil boys for the tour.

Our heros helpfully point their way to a nearby town. They keep walking and musing over the fact that they never catch a break and some people have all the luck, While we, the viewers, are *facepalm*ing or *headdesk*ing at their blindness to opportunity.

If you're reading this and you're a court reporter, do you think you'll move into providing CART or captioning "someday"? Will you provide realtime "eventually"? Are you going to compete in state or national speed contests "when I'm fast enough"?

Opportunity doesn't give a rat's nest about "someday." Opportunity will knock when opportunity decides to knock. It's up to you to be ready and have your luggage waiting by the door.

Here's how I got started in CART: I answered the door. Last year one of my clients, a deposition reporting firm, received a last-minute inquiry about CART services for a three-day class. They received the call on Friday. The class started Monday. My client called me because she knew I was interested in CART, and I took a deep breath and said YES.

(Obligatory Doctor Who reference: It was a "Turn Left" sort of moment.)

Why could I say YES rather than "No, I'm not ready for that," or "No, my dictionary is full of too many conflicts," or "RUN AWAY!! RUN AWAY!!"?

Because I've been packing. Ever since I'd heard about the concept of realtime translation in steno school, I've been wanting to write realtime. (I'm including CART & captioning when I say "realtime.") I even bought the Stentura 500--yes, 500. Remember that? The first realtime-capable student machine?

In the eleven-and-a-half years since school I've been building my dictionary bit by bit, adding words that don't normally come up in depositions. (In that first CART job the teacher said the word "albatross," and by golly it translated correctly. I did not have to fingerspell it.)

I "packed" my dictionary a little every day, and I still do so to this day. Today someone mentioned "vichyssoise" in their Facebook status update, and I put it in my "Words To Add To My Dictionary" notebook.

It's not just dictionary building either; I've had my eyes on speed contests since I heard about them, so I've been doing my best to practice, at least a little, every day as well. It's not burdensome or a chore. If you do a little every day, all you have to do is a little every day, whether dictionary building or practicing or laundry.

But that one job, that one time saying "yes," opened up the CART work for me. One year later, I'm providing CART regularly. I LOVE IT, I love helping someone participate, I love seeing the words translate correctly, and I love getting better every day.

I'm so glad I answered the door.


  1. Stenoray, I loved the post! So aptly expressed. I wonder how many times opportunity has knocked on my door? I can think of a couple right offhand.
    As I have missed a couple of those knocks, I too am now a strong believer in the school of being prepared.

  2. Hey, thank you so much! I've noticed for me, I've had to learn to keep my eyes & ears peeled and make it a habit. I'm better at spotting the opportunity than I used to be :o)


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