This will only take you a minute

How many times have you heard that before?
Don't you just love it?

The phone rings, and one of your regular customers is on the line, offering you a job, or rather, expecting you to take the teensy weensy job he is throwing at you.
You explain that you're in the middle of something, rather a long complicated piece – say about Prospects for Peace in the Piddled East, or the Logic of Life on Lucifer – and you can't right now. Needless to say, his job is urgent.
"There's nothing to it, really," he insists, "it's less than a page. It'll only take you a minute."

So, against your better judgment, you give in.

But it never takes just a minute, does it?

First of all, you save the document you've been toiling over and shove it aside, as it were.
You open the new email. Save the document into the appropriate folder. Glance at it. Realize it's more complicated than you thought. Start translating. Find out there's an unfinished sentence in the first paragraph. Paragraph two contains three unfamiliar names in Hebrew, or in Arabic, or in Ancient Greek, which you have no idea how to pronounce and therefore can't Google them properly. Paragraph three is so vague and convoluted, being made up of one long sentence, that you haven't the foggiest what the writer was trying to say.
You figure out a workaround – after all, you are an experienced, skilled translator – tweak it a bit, and send it off back whence it came.
What with one thing and another, you've spent nearly an hour on the stupid thing.

Never again, you say to yourself… Until next time.


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