Like Chinese Food And CheesePosted: May 17, 2010
I spent Saturday night at a political event. This is something I would never normally do unless I was physically dragged or possibly for significant cash. There was overtime pay involved so, there I was. Despite knowing I was bringing home money for vacation, I was miserable most of the night. Luckily, the event’s sign language interpreters saved the evening for me.
Signing Looks Like A Dance To Me…
Like events many of you have probably been to, this one had interpreters on stage to help the deaf and hard of hearing enjoy the messages delivered by the speakers. Despite a brief effort a long time ago to learn American Sign Language, I can’t read sign. All the same, I enjoy watching the interpreters in situations like this. Done well, it looks like a bit like a dance to me.
Two women seemed to share the duty of signing; they took turns on one end of the stage. When I got the chance, I would watch them work. They made the time pass a little more tolerably.
…Except When Charlie Daniels Is Present.
The last part of the evening was a performance by The Charlie Daniels Band. They took the stage and started with a long instrumental introduction to a song. As Charlie Daniels stepped up to begin singing, I saw something at the side of the stage. It was one of the sign language interpreters. It seemed she was going to interpret the songs for her audience. This truly had potential.
The idea of having the songs interpreted seemed to run into an unanticipated snag. Daniels’ accent, the cadence of his speech, his tone and the sound quality made him hard for the people in the arena to understand. Apparently the effect was the same on stage. He started singing and the interpreter stood there. She watched and listened. Her hands were still and mute. It was clear she could not pick out the words he was singing. I saw her look to the side, presumably at the other interpreter. I thought she was going to leave the stage. To her credit, she didn’t. She stayed with her hands folded, listening for the opportunity to use her skills. Periodically she’d pick up a word or phrase, smile, and her hands would sing along with the band. Mostly though she stood there smiling.
The end of the first song came. I anticipated that would also end the work of the interpreters. Not so! The other interpreter took her turn, with similar results. Throughout Daniels’ performance the interpreters hung in there, trying like mad to catch a word or phrase to sign. They didn’t have much luck.
Chinese Food And Cheese
Daniels announced he’d play one more song, then launched into his hit, The Devil Went Down To Georgia. If the interpreter on stage knew the song or had rehearsed the one song she could be sure Daniels and his band would play I’ll never know. I just know I saw a grin and singing hands. It looked as if she got the better part of the words out and was very happy about it.
All in all, I got a lot of nothing out of the night, except for an appreciation for two women who just would not give up. Well done ladies. Relentless spirit is always good to find.
About a year ago, my son imparted some wisdom upon me that just seemed to fit here. “Some good things just don’t go well together” he told me, “like Chinese food and cheese.”