I’ve been promising to fill in the blanks as to what happened during April and the first few weeks of May that made me such a low profile blogger. Part 1 is here.
Rent is due on the first of the month, though according to my lease, I have until the 5th before I get dinged for late fees and start receiving nasty notes from property management. I think I had maybe a $100 or $200, but I borrowed some from my brother – God bless my brother! Remember that working from home job I told y’all about? Transcribing audio or video? Last week of March and much of April, that is what I was doing. Now, on the face of it, how difficult could transcribing be? I used to be a professional transcriber, so I felt this would be a snap as soon as I got accustomed to downloading the audio to my system, running it through two different programs, with two different windows, one for the audio and one for Word to type the transcription.
A polite cough is in order here. How difficult could it be? Damn difficult. I’ve always taken my secretarial skills for granted and I was a great transcriber. Ten years ago. When you’re not under the gun and not doing it every day, you lose speed and accuracy. There was a time I transcribed about 115 words per minute. About those expectations of self, I spoke of earlier…
Here’s the deal: you log onto the site, and if its a good day, there are plenty of jobs available, could be anywhere from 1 minute to hours of audio or video. With every job, it is noted how long the audio is, the pay for it, and the time it is due back, as well as any special needs of the client, as in verbatim or a time stamp every two minutes into the transcript. As a rule of thumb, the site will pay anywhere from .40 cents to .60 cents per audio minute. Not, let us be clear, how long it takes you to transcribe, but the actual amount of audio for that job. So, a one minute audio might pay 55 cents and a 30 minute audio might pay $16.50 at .55 cents per minute. There is an average expectation that one audio minute can take about 13 minutes to transcribe. Obviously, depending on your speed and the clarity of the audio, you could complete the job more quickly or it might take more time.
My self-esteem took a horrendous beating and my pride a come uppance. I was nowhere near 13 minutes, it might take me two hours to do three minutes. I started keeping a log of just how long it took me, including breaks. I was hoping I’d improve. And, I did. I also got better at selecting the jobs. I need to add here that while my pride took a beating at performance, it took uplift flight from doing work, real work, real pay, no matter how small, I’d earned it. And the jobs were fascinating! Truly.
I transcribed an argument between two Texas gentlemen arguing over a deal and the skirmishing, wheeling and dealing, the Southern verbal fist to the jaw insults were a dream of dialogue. Accents from all over the world, Australian, Asian, Indian, Russian, a cacophony of sound and babel and knowledge. For fun, I share below a video about a conference call. Imagine transcribing this, if you will, because this is what we did:
The transcribing week ran from Sunday to Saturday and payday was Monday thru PayPal. The company was excellent and the pay always there. However, if you want it transferred to your checking account, PayPal says it can take three business days. And it does. And that’s how I came to be talking to property management to explain that I would not be turning in my rent on time, telling them why, which included the PayPal challenge. Yes, I’d be paid on Monday the 7th, but it would take a couple of days for PayPal to transfer. The manager was nice enough to say, “I understand. Keep me posted, Huntie.” All well and good. Monday night, I’m walking out my front door and there is a notice posted to my door, a “Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Be Evicted From the Premises by the Marshall.” My heart sank, my fingers clenched and I walked out to my car, resuming my discussion with God.
“Okay, see, this is what I was talking about, God. I understand having faith in You and trusting that all is well. (sigh) But, down here, it’s all about the money, God, being on time with the goods.” Pause. Still getting the message to wait on God. “Okay, God. This is scary time. Official scary time.” I started the car, letting it warm up, noting it was getting to empty. I think at that time there was 35 miles left in the tank – my car will tell me that. I did my usual prayer for safe and timely passage, which includes waving my hands around – I am sure my neighbors must think I am batty.
My second prayer goes like this: (Hands open and cupped in front of me, eyes closed, head bowed, “God, I thank you for each and every blessing You are pouring down upon me and I accept each and every one of them, known and unknown, and I thank You for these blessings. I thank You for the blessings in which I get to participate, God. (my hands always close upon those blessings and then fling open in front of me, above the steering wheel) I believe in the possibility of perfect outcomes, God and I thank You for that possibility. (now my hands go in front, both sides, behind, underneath and over me and to my chest) I declare that Your Love and Favor, God, are in front of me, on both sides of me, behind me, underneath me, over me and within me. Thank You, God.” By this time, my eyes are open and I glance in every direction. Occasionally, I meet the startled gaze of a kid skateboarding thru. Or the gaze of an adult trying to figure out what I’m doing. …
The Three Day Notice sat on the seat beside me as I drove off to do an errand. Coming home, I stopped to pick up my mail and saw an envelope from the Social Security Administration. Uh oh… My heart began to beat like that of a small feathery bird, fast-fast, fast-fast, fast-fast. I ran through the possibilities. This could be the letter of approval or disapproval, or it could be the scheduling of another appointment, or more paperwork to fill out. I got in the car and just sat there, holding it.
“Oh, God, help me here. Help me not to have a core melt down if it is no. Help me visualize what it would feel like if it was approved… Please hold me tight, God. I’m afraid I’ll fly apart like splinters from an ax cutting wood.” I drove home, slowly and carefully, and parked, slowly and carefully. Gathered up the stuff, the Notice, the mail, and walked the distance to my front door, opened it, and put the letter on my dining room table. I fed Ella, the greythound and Elby, That Cat!, always a joyful moment in their day.
I paused back at the dining room table, my finger tips resting on the envelope, my breath requiring conscious effort on my part. “Breathe, Huntie, in and out. Just breathe. In. and Out.” I chickened out and went to the freezer, pulling it open. “Okay, God, I’m going to have a mini-vodka-martini. Either way, I cannot stand the suspense. All is well, Hunt. Say it. ‘All is well.'” It had been about three weeks since my spirometer test, which was actually done the morning of my birthday. I had had to fight to have that test done. I’d sent in my own records of my breathing tests for the past six months, showing my scores on a home apparatus thing – good, but much more informal that an official spirometer test. They had finally scheduled one for me. And, somewhere between the attorney and the adjudicator (SSA) had come the idea they would render a verdict in about three weeks. It had been three weeks. The envelope still sat, unopened, on the table.
Continued in Part 3.