In Her Own Words - First Person Narratives
by Lina Fletcher, CET
I sling my camera bag over my shoulder, grab my coffee mug, and step out the door. It’s a short quarter-mile walk to the little lake and I smile in anticipation of the sunrise. Within minutes I reach my favorite spot and settle into the grass. Tripod stretched, camera locked down, settings clicked and I give a happy sigh. The early morning fresh around me as I wait for sleepy gray clouds to turn soft pink then golden in a wide awake burst.
I take a sip from my second cup of coffee. Or third? I’ve been up since 4:30 a.m. An attorney’s emergency bumping my favorite evening shows and condensing my good night’s sleep. I turned off the alarm, flicked on my desk lamp and huddled ergonomically in front of an overly bright screen. With my Bose headphones in place, I tapped the foot pedal and “stepped” into the courtroom for a 20-minute hearing containing the critical information that necessitated an “overnight” transcript order.
I’m a court transcriber, heading into year ten of typing up trials and hearings and depositions. I work closely with a court reporting agency which sends me digital audio files to be transcribed into a specified format before emailing the finalized transcript back to them.
My job? To type out every word spoken “on the record” in court. A fairly straightforward task, one would expect. But we’re talking Big City USA. A courtroom collection of melodious accents, street slang and emotional individuals. Mumbled responses from witnesses on the stand, whispered side bar conferences of crucial case law, eloquent arguments in rich tones all deserve my focused attention to transcribe precisely what has been said. Cases have turned on the mistakes of court transcribers, and the added element of perfection in my work is what keeps me going. I’m the kind of person who faults a misused apostrophe or cringes over an incorrect “your.” Maybe that’s what makes this job such a perfect fit.
The sun is just about to make an appearance and I’ve clicked way too many moments of subtle color changes. Some pics I share with my Instagram community and others I put on stock photography sites. But for me, it’s the thrill of capturing the moment, an entire sensory experience wrapped up in one single shot.
And my work-from-home job allows me time for photos. I put in my hours as needed. I often work evenings and weekends, even holidays. But I can take a leisurely 40 minutes with my sunrise while the rest of the world rushes off to offices and studios and machinery.
I spent two years learning the business of transcribing, apprentice-style, before obtaining my certification through the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT). Legal terminology is a language of its own and I learned that what sounded like “guardier” was actually “voir dire,” and that the attorney was saying “William’s Rule evidence,” not “void on cruel evidence” (my actual mistakes!). Now with nearly 3,000 transcripts under my belt, I can predict a hearsay objection or spot an attorney’s failure to invoke the Rule of Sequestration, all without ever having stepped foot into a real courtroom.
The sun has cleared the tree line now and ants have found my empty mug. It’s time to pack my gear, don my flip-flops and head back to work.
Lina Fletcher is an AAERT Certified Transcriber. She grew up in South America and now spends her time sipping margaritas on the beach, photographing Florida sunsets and squeezing in an evening trail run. During her off hours she transcribes court hearings, writes articles and blog posts, and hunts down stray apostrophes.
Reprinted with the permission of CAKE&WHISKEY; the Sweet & Spirited World of Business magazine. www.cakenwhiskey.com