Saturday, September 20, 2008


I am being pressured into learning how to dictate. No, not dictating instructions and rules for what people are supposed to do for me - I'm already good at that. I'm talking about the good old-fashioned pacing your office, speaking into a little black box so someone later can type it up and then I can go back and look at it to realize just how retarded I sound doing that.

I fully understand that dictating, particularly in the context of persuasive writing, is much less time-consuming overall and will be helpful when things really start picking up. But I fear my recorded voice, in fact my voice in general. I can't very well explain that I spent a lot of time actually retyping dicta in cases because it meant avoiding my slightly nasally (and if the device is running, slightly panicked) voice being heard by someone else saying something ridiculous like "insert citation three" or "sign off with the usual regards." Besides, I really know nothing about how to do it. For some reason, I'd probably just start sounding like a telegraph operator.

My secretary, who they probably assigned to me because she's monstrously talented and patient, has now begun a covert operation to force me to dictate. I can't figure out if she's trying to be helpful or if she's just madly bored. (I share her with a partner who spends all day sending a colleague and I editorials about Sarah Palin, and putting associates in the awkward position of having to add him as a friend on facebook.)

Anyway, her method has so far included the following:

Hovering around my office door asking me how many words I type a minute and then reminding me that she types more.

Looking at my highlighted passages and shaking her head at the fact I insist on typing them.

Acting like I am swamped under a mountain of work (so far not really the case) and stay late every single night (I usually stay late because I've spent all day goofing off with the other procrastinating young associates).

Placing my dictaphone in very conspicuous spots when I am at lunch. Like on my keyboard, on top of my drafts, and at one point hooked into my coffee mug handle.

Prelabelling dictation tapes with things she knows I'm working on.

And, my favorite:

Commenting that she's noticed that staring at a computer all day can give someone wrinkles.

Two weeks and she's already picked up on my vanity. This woman is good.

I'm going to give it a whirl this week. Maybe I'll start dictating my blog.

That's a horrible thought.


figment said...

oh i hate that little monster (the dictaphone). here mine sits before me, as unused as it was the day i got it (2+ yrs. ago). i never caved to the pressure, myself. totally second the fear-of-my-own-voice thing. i have to believe in its distortion powers, otherwise how can anyone stand to listen to me??? still, i can't recommend you shun it like i have, as it's clearly only me i'm hurting -- CTS and crossed-eyes and WRINKLES(?), oh my! then again, i'm pretty sure i actually type faster than my assistant.

your boss does -not- try to friend you on facebook. does he?? the horror. i can hardly handle having a couple work folks as FB friends... makes me nervous.

p.s. your wee package goes out today!

Startickler said...

My "wee package" huh? It's a very good thing I am not a man. With a "little prick."

Yeah, unfortunately the damage has been done and he is now officially a "friend." I spent a good deal of time ridding my page of all photos involving me and a bikini.

Unfortunately the dictaphone has no longer become an option. I just hope my secretary doesn't die laughing when I lose my train of thought and say "or something like that."