A YEAR AGO, feeling hopeless about my work as a freelance writer, I began to look for other ways to bring in money – something steadier to tide me over, with possibly even fair pay. One night, I saw a fiftysomething scientist talking on TV about her job dissatisfaction, how she’d left her position, moved to a coastal town with ocean views, and was loving the freedoms of being a remote court transcriber. I thought: maybe I could do that, and while I didn’t move to a beach, I did go onto the website of Australia’s biggest court transcription company to investigate what such work involved.
Within a day, I’d signed up to its training program. Within two days, I began to sit their tests, proving I could tolerate and, more to the point, follow what judges and barristers say to each other, could touch-type at speed, reproduce speech with a 98.2 per cent minimum accuracy rate and obey style manuals for the jurisdictions I would work in. Within two months, I was given ‘live’ work from the courts, which is to say, one morning, while still yawning in my nightie, I opened up my computer in my Melbourne home, put on headphones, located my first audio file – a criminal matter in Brisbane – on the company’s remote transcribers’ site and began to follow the drama unfolding there: a man defending charges of physically assaulting his wife (while his children looked on).
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