By Monette Benoit
Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.
Years ago, thousands chanted: “Take this job and ….”
Has anyone here diligently worked with new technology, new boundaries?
Have you, too, worked multiple uncompensated hours to prepare, organized the event, CARTed to a large screen with new names, words, acronyms?
Have you ever felt it all uncoil in an instant, in public? Ever felt verbally slapped? I’m grateful that I live in a country where people are free to express themselves. Yet I have “a dream,” many.
While flying to CART a job, I was reading the airline magazine. A note was penned: “Dad has the following in his ears: (a) wax; (b) blackheads; (c) dirt; (d) puss; (e) all the above.” Below in all caps: “Dad, your ears are dirty; it’s number (e)!” What does a man do when a child has written him a note like this, in an airplane? I giggled, wondered, and what were those ears like?
What’s my point here?
I know CART, communication access real-time technology, is still new to some. I’ve spent hours, months, years (as others), educating, sharing, explaining.
When I remember incidents where I felt verbally slapped, the comments came from hearing people who did not need, want and/or utilize the CART services upon which they’re commenting. Their words were loudly tossed across a room, often with the hearing person laughing, opining.
Two recent events leave me stunned. Those who know what ‘should have been said and/or done’ have the benefit of knowing from your chair, not in realtime, and I humbly share.
At the end of a week-long convention, just before the finale, everyone took a break.
I had been arriving and departing the hotel in the dark. I hadn’t seen the sun in days. I had not eaten a full meal since the start of the CART job.
After months of prepping; I saw a light at the end of that tunnel. I was proud of the work, my job and pleased with the responses from the audience.
On that break on the last day, a woman approached in the large hotel lobby, one finger pointed, and raised her voice. She said, quote, “Man, I would never want you on my murder trial!” (Those were her exact words — honest.)
I froze and turned around. Then I realized she was speaking to me!
I tipped my head, asking, “Hmmm, why is that?”
She said louder, “Because you don’t get it word for word!”
I giggled, then saw she had placed one hand on each hip and put her chin forward, thrown her shoulders back. Everyone froze; people held elevators, employees stood still.
She continued, “And you substitute some words. And you spell words you don’t have in that computer. And I wouldn’t want you as my court reporter!”
The gauntlet was tossed.
I stood tall, replying slowly, “Let me share about my services, my skills; what I’ve been doing this past week.” (I had been projecting instant verbatim text to a large screen. This convention had international speakers with foreign accents. Their topics changed almost every hour. New speakers arrived, at the last moment, to fill in or to share the topic. Yes, there were open mics on the floor from which the group asked questions to the speakers and to multiple panels on a variety of topics.)
After I briefly explained CART, communication access real-time technology, people leaned in to listen.
Finally the woman, wearing a bright red suit, laughed, raising her voice, “Wow, I’m so glad I told you. Now I can get a good night’s sleep!”
I blinked hard, smiled and said, “Thank you for permitting me to share.”
She stepped into a fully populated elevator, which had been held waiting for her; I returned to work.
Yes, individuals who had scheduled CART did appear somewhat horrified.
When the convention ended, I was still gritting my teeth. Later she re-entered the room, dramatically waved, pointed at me to her companions. The consumers who needed CART services, shook their heads. Later consumers shared their daily frustrations. Later I received my hugs as I packed my equipment.
Again consumers reminded me why I do this; why I arrived at the convention before dark, missing more than my share of food that week, why I work so hard. My sacrifices, commitment, to completion of the job paid off when individuals from this group promised they would request CART for all future events, locally and nationally.
What could I have done to prevent that? If one is writing for a ‘crowd’ to a large screen, we don’t always have an opportunity to address the audience. What should have been different? I’m still thinking on it.
Shortly thereafter, I was asked to accompany a court reporter to present in a large university. They specifically requested their guest speakers to “focus on technology.”
The court reporter specifically requested I share about CART as a guest speaker to the students, academicians and university administration.
I specifically prepped to share a history of CAT (computer-assisted technology), broadcast captioning, CART and to methodically launch into technology. Adults were seated as we entered.
Directed to the front of the room, I dragged another chair, another table, unpacked my equipment – again, while others sat and watched – to demo the technology to this audience, per their request. Just another day at the office for me. I smiled at a few adults who watched all my bending(s). I noted that the professor, her associates, were seated with superiors and administration.
It was smooth sailing. Students listened intently; professors nodded and took notes on their clipboards.
At the end of my presentation, the professor asked: “Can they see your equipment and screen?” where I had been CARTing earlier.
“Sure,” I replied.
Students leaped toward me. They asked (as people often do) for their name (and many asked for cuss words) to be written. And they asked, “Can we touch that machine?”
When the class ended, students stood and began to race to the door.
Suddenly, swiftly, the professor, waving one arm, laughing, loudly said, “Now do you see the difference? Our first speaker, the court reporter, gets the record word for word. Monette, the court reporter and CART provider, only summarizes! That’s the difference. Monette’s just summarizing it up there.”
Everyone exploded with laughter. I thought I’d been slapped.
Should I correct the instructor, as everyone exited? Should I comment while she’s standing and chatting with her peers and supervisors?
I quickly assessed this scenario in realtime, looked up and everyone was gone. It was as if they’d gone up in smoke. I was furious. I had clearly explained what we do, how we do it (a word she used), how ‘we’ CART, working with court reporters, consumers, Deaf, HOH (hard of hearing) individuals and the public.
Yet a loud, public comment about “Monette just summarizing” ended our presentations.
I know thigh-by-thigh reporting (my term) in the trenches is the best.
I know I’ll need to continue educating, sharing. I know I’ll need to return another long distance call to explain again to hearing people ‘what it is I really do’.
Yet I do yearn for a time when people are as familiar with CART as they are with court, depositions and now television captioning.
We are blessed to have choices so many never have had. Take that CART and shove it? No, not yet. “Dad, has the following in his ears …” What a great country.
PS: After this was written, my family gathered for a wedding. During dinner, a relative arrived from a large U.S. city.
She leaned down the long table: “I know a court reporter who takes notes in a college for a student.”
Monette (me) paused cautiously and smiled: “That’s great.”
She: “She’s not in court or anything. She’s ‘just’ taking notes.” Everyone had stopped eating and waited, looking down the table from her to me.
Monette cautiously: “If she’s a court reporter in a college with a student, she’s probably CARTing and providing a verbatim transcript.”
Relative laughing, loudly, “Oh, no. She’s not technical like you;” whereupon, I froze.
Relative: “The court reporter says she just takes her ‘stuff’ to the college and does notes. Those are ‘her’ exact words!
I blinked hard, smiled, looked down the long table to all the relatives and said, “That’s nice.”Monette, the Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: Monette@ARTCS.com and Monette@CRRbooks.com
Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal
Tutor, Motivational Management & Career Coach,
Multiple-Title Author of Books & Test Prep for the Court Reporting and CART Captioning Industry
Realtime Court Reporter, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist
Court Reporter Reference Books & CDs: www.CRRbooks.com
Blog: Monette’s Musings, www.monettebenoit.com
* Educational/Career Advancement; Private Tutoring/Customized Coaching
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Tutoring and career coaching topics include:
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About Monette Benoit:
As a 25+ year court reporter, CART Captioner, author of NCRA test prep material, and an instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and the 225 homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands the challenges many adults now face in our industry and schooling.
Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART Captioners, students, and instructors.
She has also helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.
Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has greatly assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to privately reach the next level.
Monette’s Musings is a blog containing information for busy professionals, students, and individuals who are fearless and seek to create their success each day. Reach up. Bring it. Bring it. * Bring it today!