I was waiting in line last Sunday ordering a bagel. The three people behind the counter were going about their duties, tending to each custom order. As more people entered the shop and joined the ever-growing line, the staff seemed unfazed, going about their business at their usual pace. Apparently they saw no need to speed things up to accommodate the sudden rush of business.
Can you imagine, in your role as a court reporter, operating at only one speed: slow? Can you envision the words coming at you in quick succession, piling up one after the other, but, no worries, you keep moseying along at a snail’s pace? Needless to say, as court reporters we have no choice but to step it up and shift into a higher gear.
Sometimes the pace at a deposition is steady, but many times it is not. Testimony can come at you in fits and starts; it can wax and wane. Getting into a rhythm can be difficult on days like these. Things may be quiet speedwise, and then all of a sudden someone objects and they’re off to the races. It is your job to adjust to whatever the speed may be: If the pace is slow, you have to stay on your toes for the inevitable and unpredictable uptick. If the speed is fast, you have to hang on until things slow down enough for you to catch your breath. The more speed you have in the bank, the more adept you will be to take on whatever comes your way.
This brings to mind an assignment I shared with a fabulous colleague, Jane Williamson, RMR, CRR, on a daily copy years ago. She would write; I would edit, sitting in the same room. I noticed that whenever things got contentious and the pace picked up, she literally dropped her head and went into high-speed mode. It scared me at first — I thought she had fainted! — but I noticed that she did this multiple times throughout the day. It was such a strong visual manifestation of her bearing down, going into a deeper level of concentration, and ramping up her speed. I mentioned this to her afterwards, and she was unaware that she was even doing this!
Of course you may not physically react as she does, but you do have to switch gears mentally to be able to dig deep and perform at a higher level. Your current practice routine is a good indicator of how you will fare in challenging situations like this. If you do your best to hang on even when it seems impossible, you will have a better chance of success. This is the mindset you need to be able to perform optimally. Contrast this with a more lackadaisical approach to your practice sessions, and I think the results will become obvious. A complacent mindset will generate inferior outcomes. Put another way, you will not be able to go into full-speed mode when needed if you do not train yourself to do so while in school.
Unfortunately, reporters cannot be like the one-speed-fits-all workers at the bagel shop without suffering serious consequences. When called upon, there is no option but to step it up and deliver.