Guest Blog – Real Day in the Life of a Captioner!

August 24, 2014 Comments Off on Guest Blog – Real Day in the Life of a Captioner!

We enjoyed this honest and open view into a day in the life of …and as we told Jenn, it’s just great that students have quality CAPTIONING (CART) to learn what they want to learn, to reduce anxiety in important verbal situations, and to know that they have a record of it all, no matter if they use every word live and realtime or not. Since voices, acoustics, and so many factors are dynamic (change all the time), knowing that captioning is there for us is a huge life-saver (even when working with the opposite, see below, smile please).

CCAC Logo with words Caption Universally

Bu Jennifer Porto, Long Beach, California, 7 years captioning

Hello and… to introduce myself, my name is Jenn Porto. I’ve been a CART captioner for

approximately 7 years. My purpose of writing my stories is to share my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants

moments that I encounter on the job. This post doesn’t make me an expert and does not mean that

I’ll always make the right decisions. I may say/do something that makes you wince. I’m okay with

that. There is no rule book for being a CART captioner. With that said, I am not always going to be

grammatically correct. This is an account of my day and my thoughts as they come to mind.

8/22/14 — Please do not read while eating or if you have a weak stomach. (Intrigued yet?)

I feel like I can say that I’ve realtime captioned (RTC’d) almost every type of job. I’ve captioned nude models for an art class — I’ll write about that another day – and, as of yesterday, cadavers for a GROSS anatomy class, emphasis on the GROSS. Before walking into the room, I had no idea as to how I was going to emotionally handle this class. I’ve never actually seen a dead body. I emailed the captioner who captioned the Wednesday portion of the class. She said it was no walk in the park. I worried because I’ve always been a bit gaggy. Would I cry thinking about the cadaver as a person that just passed? All I could picture was a human-sized frog, lying in its slimy bath of stinky formaldehyde. I could picture the brownish-pink intestines we had to dissect in our 8th grade bio class. Okay, I digress before I lose some of you.

Let me set the scene, the student … told me before the class that she didn’t need my captions during the dissection. “Thank gawd,” I woohoo’d inside my head. She asked if I could sit in the corner and take “notes” for her. “No prob.” The student’s wish is my command….( before the session, I was wondering) …how I could prevent dissection fluids from getting on my equipment? I know this all sounds really gross, but it was a genuine topic of discussion. Should I put my laptop in a plastic bag? I can’t imagine if I shorted out my laptop and had to call in a claim to my insurance carrier Marsh USA.

I had come prepared with my normal RTC equipment, including my Dell 15″ laptop, Stenograph Mira, 6’ extension cord, laptop stand, mini 7”x10” laptop, et cetera. I use a free program called Team Viewer to mirror the image of my laptop to the mini-laptop. What I had NOT brought with me is a bubble from which I could caption inside of.

First off, I walked into the room and saw the four bodies. “EWE-ewe-ewe. Hmmmm – Wait. It’s kinda cool — really cool.” The flesh had a visible texture of pale nude-colored human jerky. It looked like a manikin from a Knott’s Scary Farm prop. Honestly, it didn’t look real at all. The smell, well, formaldehyde is no longer used in the preservation process. The bodies had a slight chemical smell that I was able to diffuse with a little Vix Vapor Rub smeared ALLLLLL over my nose.

The group of students crowded around Body No. 1. I did my best to caption from my designated corner. Hearing the group was tough. Words like sacrospinous, triceps coccyx, and planter fasciae lata, to name a few, came up while they dissected the sciatica. It was hard to hear because half of the group had their back to me and the other half were looking down at the body. Even though she had asked me to just take notes, I set my laptop up facing her. I used a black screen with yellow letters, Arial font, size 34, so the font was big enough that if she needed the captions, she could glance over her shoulder. I did notice that my student stole many glances of my captions. Next Friday, I’m going to set up my mini-laptop on the opposite side of her. With the two laptops, she will have two viewing spots in the room.

After Body No. 1 was dissected, the class moved to Body No. 2. I could no longer hear from my

designated corner, so I decided to sneak a quick look at Body No. 1. From where I had been sitting, I

couldn’t see the body’s face. Although, when I stood up, I could now see eyelashes on the man’s face.

Until this moment, it was not a man, it was just a body. I started to see features. Feeling myself losing

my cool, I looked down at the man’s hands. His fingernails looked like a werewolf’s claws. They were a couple centimeters thick, grayish, and longer than a man would wear his nails. “Sit down,” I commanded myself. After sitting, I focused on my editing. Every couple minutes, I’d look over at the bodies, but only to make sure the student was still okay with her original desire for me to take notes instead of captioning. By the way, when I say “notes,” I mean I was captioning just like I normally would, but the student was not reading from my screen (at all times).

Unfortunately, my lunch break is directly after this class. (Yeahhhhh,my sentiments exactly.) I bought a salad from the commissary. Even though it didn’t have any meat, I found that I had lost my appetite while munching on my mixture of lettuce, beets, and celery. I wished for a shower. I felt as if I had a layer of body-preserving chemicals all over me. ICK! This was my first time captioning in such an ick-infested environment. Stay tuned for next week. I’m sure I’ll come up with solutions to the ick. All in all, it was just another day in the most rewarding career I could ever hope for.

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