IN WHICH (NON)OCCASIONS ORAL INTERPRETATION IS REQUIRED

One night, better to say one morning, around half past three (and it wasn’t that only time in the life of a Sworn to Court Interpreter, for the record), my cell phone rang. I woke up from my sleep, terrified, for – who is calling  at that unreasonable time, persistently and for a long, long time, – until I came to my senses and answered, as it was written on the phone, an unknown fixed number. On the other side, a male, no less confused voice spoke asking about the court interpreter and whether he was talking to one. A stone fell from my heart, it’s not a tragedy, I thought. I mean, at least not mine…

After a little persuasion and proposing to call someone else, ‘cause it was half past three in the morning, and I had a small child sleeping next to me, and since a man already had a voice cracked from the explanations and pleas of various court interpreters who, apparently, he called in the order he came into,  I felt sorry for him and for the man and woman who needed to understand why they were in the police station and how to get out safely of the situation in which they found themselves, so I started getting ready to go to the police station in Majke Jevrosime street and soon got in the car. Along the way, I found the strength to enjoy the deserted Belgrade, the green wave of traffic lights to get there and the almost incredible five-minute drive to the city from New Belgrade and the free parking in the center. I couldn’t help but think what it would be like if, during the day, you could get everywhere so easily and at this speed, like, for example, in Finland or Scandinavia in general. Namely, in a place in Finland, where I attended high school, the streets are deserted even in the “rush hour” everywhere in the place (not that there is ever a rush hour in traffic).

In Finland, it looks something like this: you drive on a straight, level and completely unloaded road to an intersection without traffic lights, and your direction intersects a road that seems to be of the same importance, so it is not known who has the advantage, nor if, later I understood, it mattered to anyone. For  Finns wouldn’t be Finns if they weren’t so nice – “fini” in Serbian language, certain wordplay J (when they’re sober, though). Finns stop a vehicle at every intersection and in front of every pedestrian crossing, regardless of whether or not there is anyone on the other road, or at the pedestrian crossing. They stop because it is so prescribed. And then they stand until they turn their heads to the right, then to the left, assessing whether there are any kilometers in the distance (this part, the northwestern part of Finland is flat, like Vojvodina, and visibility is several kilometers on a clear day) and only then, not rushing anywhere , insert into the first and move on, their way. Ah, that distant Finlandia.

Thinking like that about Finland, I enter the station with the obligatory identification and there I find, so to say, an unreal scene – a man and a woman both foreigners, with frantic looks, sitting on benches in something that looks like a waiting room and holding hands. His head is wrapped in bandages, she is missing a shoe on her foot and her nylons are torn. Oh, dear mother, I think. What happened to these poor people, I wonder. They looked at me gratefully and calmly told the recorders with the help of my translation that they were both in Ireland, traveling to this part of Europe, and that they had found themselves in their hostel when a group of migrants broke into it, who, apparently by mistake, were said it was a place where they could settle. Angry that the owner of the hostel did not receive them without compensation, they started behaving violently, the guy got up to help the owner of the hostel, as well as the girl (I think we remind more like Irish than other Europeans), a general fight broke out in which suffered his head, some furniture and someone else, and they ended up in the police, unjustly, with the aim of giving a statement, which, according to our law for foreigners, is not possible without the presence of a court interpreter.

And so I have helped now less frightened foreigners with short statements, a therapeutic conversation, I found them a taxi and accommodated them in another hostel nearby and everything, apparently, went well.

Court interpreters, I want to tell you, are sometimes not just interpreters, but are often psychologists, travel workers, drivers, real estate agents, support, whatever anyone may need at the time. I only need to be a bodyguard too, I thought to myself, as I was driving back to my safety through still empty streets of Belgrade.

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