I had this conversation with one of the staff at a law firm where I was reporting out of this past week and while in the heat of the moment I didn’t respond as optimally as I could have to the blatant ignorance of some people and how rude that question actually comes across as, here’s what went down:
Blah blah, walking to the subway station together; small talk about reporting; found out she regularly sees reporters from my reporting agency and other ones come into their law firm to cover hearings:
Her: How long have you been reporting for?
Me: Six, seven years.
Her: Are you doing this part-time and finishing school on the side?
Me: Um, no, I do this full-time as a freelancer. I went to school for court reporting. 😐🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄 (my eyes started to narrow as I later realized how rude that question was. Would you ever ask that question to a teacher? An accountant? A police officer? You would never ask that question to someone in any professional field so why do you think it’s okay to ask someone that?)
Small talk about schooling and I said I had two university degrees and that the moment I found out about court reporting, I dove straight for it because it was something I felt challenged by and was very passionate about. Honestly, it’s like these people don’t even know how lucrative a court reporting career can be. You can make up to six figures in a year, way more than a law clerk. You can make $1,000 in a day, $2,000 in a day, or more depending on how many realtime connections you have on a job and how good your steno skills are. You don’t need to work five days a week and still make more than someone makes in two weeks. She probably thinks court reporters just sit there, push a button to record proceedings, and that’s it. 🙄
Again, in the heat of the moment, I didn’t educate her further about transcript order lucrativeness or question her point-blank: “Why the hell would you even ask me that question?!” I didn’t feel the need to “flaunt” how much court reporters make because I didn’t realize she was actually that ignorant. Next time if a conversation like this ever come up again, you bet I will educate that person. Now it’s not just about people not understanding that we actually write shorthand on a machine to take down proceedings but people actually thinking we get paid scraps for sitting there staring into space. Uh, far from the truth!
Seriously, folks, court reporting is not a “hobby” career and it can pay way more than you can ever dream of.