It all started in 1991. I rented my first apartment on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, joined the American Translators Association and started my business. Vadim Zima Certified Russian Translator and Interpreter was written on my Washington State business license. Spammers and junk mailers abbreviated the title to a great looking but silly Vadim Zima Certified Russian. I didn’t mind.
Two smartest decisions I made from the very beginning were (1) subscribing to a business telephone line, which provided me with a free listing in the Yellow Pages under Translators, and (2) having some business cards printed. This is what they looked like.
A naive text with horrible layout because I “designed” the card myself, but thinking back, they brought me quite a few clients. Remember, it was the time when all things “Soviet” were in.
It was a time when Microsoft Office 95 was still four years away, and everybody was using Word Perfect 5.1. It was good but MS Word turned out to be more user-friendly. No wonder it became so popular. At that time, I learned how seriously American treated the concept of copyrighted property. A friend of mine was surprised when I asked her to give me her set of floppies to install WP on my computer. She didn’t say it, but I could read on her face “Vadim, you must BUY your own WP disks!”
She ended up giving me the floppies, but under such secrecy that it looked like she was giving away top secret materials to a KGB agent. She warned me several times not to tell anyone about it.
Looking at the picture, I remember how carefully I selected a telephone with an answering machine. Most machines at that time used tapes, and were quite unreliable as tapes broke, jammed, came to and end and stopped the recording. I also remember how shocked I was when I heard the answer to my question about use of answering machines in my home country. Or more correctly, why nobody used them?
If burglars hear the answering machine not your voice, they would know it’s all clear. Needless to say, there was no demand for answering machines in Russia.
I bought my first computer right after I finished working on the first project using a borrowed machine. It was a 286, and I hated it. I bought myself a 386SX with a huge 40MB HDD! I don’t remember if it had 1MB of RAM or less…
My next important step was getting an ATA certificate (American Translators Association). As a professional translator I passed their exam without a problem, but as far as I remember I was pleasantly surprised. The requirements of the exam were pretty impressive and the texts were quite difficult to translate. The new Certificate required upgrading (updating?) my business cards. Which I did, again “designing” them myself.
By that time I have also moved to a nicer, roomier and cheaper apartment in one of Lynnwood’s new apartment complexes. Unlike the one in Seattle, it offered lots of amenities, including my beloved sauna! Real Russians cannot live without a steam bath in one form or another.