“You must be reading that for college.”
I’d been flipping through a book on Infant and Toddler Development and he’d obviously been reading over my shoulder. “I’ve found that nobody reads about infancy unless they’re in college or maybe…“
“No! You’d think that, wouldn’t you? So, are you? Reading for college?”
“Yeah. Kinda. For a presentation.”
“Oh? What topic?”
“That’s what I’m trying to decide.”
“How long have you got?” He didn’t mean how long the presentation was. He meant how long did I have to listen to his lecture! He then proceeded to tell me what I should talk about and why, without once asking what my target audience was, why I was talking at all, my proficiency or objective. His confidence kind of gave me a hint that this wasn’t exactly his field of expertise. Or maybe it was. I think being a parent can make you a specialist in, at the very minimum, your own children.
“So… did you read about infancy because of a college class?” I finally asked.
“Oh, no. I’m a people person, but I somehow ended up in the tech and security business. I work with machines.”
“Really?” I had given up on actually getting any work done. I closed my book when his adorable four-year-old joined in the conversation with zombie facts and my child’s martial arts lesson was already close to done anyway.
“Yeah… I never would have thought it because, like I said, I’m a people person, but you put me in front of technology and I just seem to know what to do.”
“It’s like the beeps speak to you?” I asked. I’m not sure why I called it that. Maybe it’s just the fact that while I love the internet, the sounds of “tech” don’t appeal to me (that’s an understatement – beeping drives me crazy).
“Exactly,” he laughed. “The beeps speak…” He laughed again. “I like that.”
“You know, if you’re a people person, it could be that it’s a wonderful thing. Lots of people who understand the “beeps” don’t always know how to – or enjoy – interaction with the people who aren’t into beeps. It could be that you can bridge that gap more easily than most. You get the beeps and can talk to beep people and you know how to connect and translate that information to the non beeps.”
“That’s it!” His face lit up. I mean it really lit up. “From now on, when people ask me what I do, I’ll say I’m a translator. I translate the beeps to the non-beeps.”
He never stopped grinning.
And I was smiling, too. I still haven’t decided what topic my presentation will be on. The clock is ticking – not beeping – on that. But I do know that, regardless of what my “job” is, it seems like the one thing I’m prone to do is repackaging and reframing people’s stories. I suppose that’s a form of “translating”, too.