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Bedbugs and the Translation Business
September 20, 2010 - By: - In: In the News / Awards - 12 comments

I’ve been in the translation game for 15 years, and you know, frankly, it feels that way. I mean, I like the people I work with a lot, and the technology and organization requirements are definitely fascinating, but the passion? Well, I don’t know. Sometimes instead of doing what I should be doing, I think instead of what I’d like to be doing instead, something I could get passionate about. Midlife crisis thing, I guess. So I’ve been thinking bedbugs. Which is a natural outgrowth of my interest in translation.

I think you could make a good case that Midtown East is the epicenter of the translation business. Turtle Bay is where the UN is and is where we came to set up our company. You’ve got it all here, lots of global corporate HQs, the missions, the NGOs, it’s a good neighborhood for translation. But if you’ve been following the unrelenting drumbeat of bedbug coverage in the NYT, you’ll know we are also the epicenter of the bedbug business (and that Times publisher, “Pinch” Sulzberger, in addition to his financial problems, probably also has bedbugs, if editorial interest is any indication).

Well, I have a bedbug problem too. I know this revelation may make some squeamish about doing business with 1-800-Translate, but I can assure my customers that bedbugs cannot be transmitted electronically or over the phone, to the best of my knowledge.

Here’s how it happened. Vocation led to location, and location led to infestation. We moved here to translate, and then the bedbugs decided to drop by for a bite, and stayed. So it was career choice―that and my penchant for trash-picking―that led the bedbugs to our bed. (Our zip code, 10017, is one of the richest in North America and the stuff people leave on the street is often irresistible.)

Talk about occupational hazards. Our marital bed has been converted to the bedbug equivalent of the seige at Khe Sanh, a bedbug deathtrap with the missus and I as the live bait to lure the enemy in, until they are totally annihilated….

We’ve had the exterminators in a couple of times. They’ve drilled holes in the walls and sprayed like crazy, and we are now holding the line. But we have not achieved total kill because we aren’t willing to go the full monty, which seems to involve building a Viking funeral pyre out of all our possessions in the center of each room. So even now, months later, in the darkest hour of the night, little bedbug sappers slip out of the woodwork and scale the mattress liners.  Sometimes we find their carcasses on the outer perimeter, and sometimes they find us, so we sweep the perimeter again and redeploy.

Disgusting? You bet. Itchy? Just writing this makes me itchy all over.  Bedbug paranoia is itchy.

How about you, reader? Scratching anywhere as you read this? Do you think maybe that little red spot behind your knee could be a sign of bedbugs and that’s why you’re reading this post in the first place, since you really don’t give a fart about translation? I’m looking at you with my thousand-yard stare and a cigarette hanging out of one corner of my mouth, shaking my head. You poor rat bastard. You have no idea what you’re in for.

But I’ve got an even itchier itch. An itch for revenge. I want to take out every last bedbug in this town. That’s where my passion lies now. Bedbug extermination. Probably a good business move, too, since the bedbug business looks so high growth. And if I do make that career change, it will be translation that got me there.

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