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How To Translate “Get The Hint”

, , , , , , | Right | January 21, 2023

In 2018, my German friend asked if I could translate a job application for an acquaintance of his for free. I had never met [Acquaintance], but it only took me fifteen minutes, so I did it.

This kicked off a very weird FOUR YEARS.

In 2019:

Acquaintance: “I’m looking for another job [an international job managing a soccer team]. Can you confirm this translation [for free]?”

Me: “I’m confident you can do it yourself.”

Acquaintance: “If it’s not too much time, I would really appreciate having a native speaker look it over!”

I didn’t respond.

In 2021:

Acquaintance: “I’ve been thinking about you! Sadly, a lot of times, people only write to each other when they need something, and I’m sorry, but that’s how it is today. It would be really great if you could translate something [job-related] for me [for free] just like you did before!”

Acquaintance: “Here it is!” 

He sent me the text, but I didn’t respond.

In 2022:

Acquaintance: “This will sound weird, but I’ve never found anyone who could translate something into English as good as you did. What do you think about this [another soccer job application]? It doesn’t have to be for free, but it has to be good.”

Me: “I’ll do it for 500 Euros.”

Acquaintance: “Then you must have liked what I wrote?”

Me: “Of course.”

Acquaintance: “Can you lay it out like a graphic designer?”

I didn’t respond.

A couple of days later:

Acquaintance: “I hope you understand, in my field, I really have to know English, I can’t just have someone translate it for me. What do you think of this translation I wrote? Are there any big errors?”

Me: “I’m sure it’s fine. Good luck!”

A day or two later:

Acquaintance: “I need your help again. What do you think of this phrasing?”

I didn’t respond.

THEN, HE SENT ME, unprompted, photos of this huge car rental company he founded twenty years ago (apparently the fifth largest in Germany) and this massive house he built! His subject line was “[Company] Car Rental: Built Up From Nothing.”

Me: “It’s really impressive what you’ve built out of nothing! You’ve asked me for help many times over the years. But if you need help to get a job, you actually have to pay for it. We don’t have any kind of relationship where you could ask me to do this for free. We aren’t even acquaintances, you understand? I did it once out of love to [Friend], but just once. And not only but especially because you’re looking for an international job, this comes across as really rude. One can see from the photos that you’re quite successful. You can afford it. Make a proposal and I’ll consider it.”

THEN, he wrote me a long letter explaining his life story.

I didn’t respond.

In 2022, three weeks later:

Acquaintance: “You probably think I’m crazy. Don’t think I’m rude. Before I pay to have this translated, which would make the process longer, I decided to translate it myself. If you want to, please look it over and feel free to make corrections…”

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