By Connie Psaros, RPR, B.S. in Education
Many court reporters I know have had recurring nightmares about court reporting, especially early in their careers. We can all relate to those nightmares, and we can even find a little humor in them (as long as they don’t actually happen). I collected the following examples, my favorites, from reporters I know.
One reporter tells of this recurring scenario: He arrives late to a deposition with all attorneys present and waiting. His equipment is not working, so he is forced to write the testimony in longhand on pieces of scrap paper. As the testimony furiously continues, he scrambles to find more scraps. The attorneys get annoyed with him when he has to continually interrupt, and, as you can imagine, things quickly deteriorate from there.
In a similar vein, one reporter is writing testimony in longhand on a beach with the crashing waves coming in and obliterating her “record” while she hopelessly tries to save it. Another reporter had the recurring dream of running out of paper (back in the day) and resorting to writing the testimony in longhand using pen, pencil, and then finally crayons.
It seems that preserving the record at all costs is the takeaway here.
Other common nightmare scenarios involve getting lost, being unable to read back, losing equipment, and being late. One reporter actually left his steno machine on the train on his way home and feared it was lost forever. Unbelievably, someone had turned it in to Lost and Found. Another reporter hears his mother shout his name when he oversleeps. From Heaven. It happened twice. I’m always worried about being late, so my nightmares had me unable to walk faster than at a snail’s pace, with my legs feeling like lead.
Coincidentally as I was writing this, Carol Kusinitz, a reporter with 40 years’ experience, came into the office to tell of her nightmare last night. She got to her assignment, an arbitration, realizing she had forgotten her dongle (remember those?) so had to report with only her machine. There she found a second reporter from our office – odd indeed – and 30 people sitting around the table mumbling in Scots. There were columns around the room which obliterated their view of the speakers. The exhibits were weather maps on video showing storms. To make matters worse, when she hit the keys, they sunk into a puddle of oil. Then just when Carol thought she couldn’t take it anymore, her alarm went off and thankfully the long nightmare was over.
Much has been written and many studies have been conducted about what dreams actually mean. The good news is that having bad dreams about work may actually be a good thing. Gillian Holloway, Ph.D., is the author of Dreaming Insights: A 5-Step Plan for Discovering the Meaning in Your Dream. Dr. Holloway writes: “This anxiety dream is most common to people who never allow themselves to be unprepared. The people who have it are generally successful, competent professionals who excel at their work and prepare as much as humanly possible.” To which I say, Dream on.