My Life as an Independent Captioner
I start my day by donning my captioning outfit (yoga pants and comfortable shirt), 15 minutes of meditation, and then follow that up with 20 minutes of yoga and stretching to get in the zone for the day. I grab a yogurt and a cup of coffee and head for my office. My morning prep for shows is quite simple. I go online and take a look at the national headlines and am good to go. The first shows I cover are of a radio format, so there is not much prep involved. I do get some information from the satellite feed from the station, as they list their top stories they may mention in their short news update on the bottom of the screen. As for the rest of the day, I look at the word lists sent out every day, and go to station-specific websites for prep.
After the first three hours of the workday are finished, I throw on the tennis shoes and head out the door, weather permitting. I usually have an hour-and-a-half in between my morning shows, so plenty of time to get a good walk in. If there is inclement weather, I opt for the treadmill. During an afternoon break I may turn on an exercise DVD, or in winter I hit the snowshoe or cross-country ski trails.
Now, how did I get to be a closed captioner?
I worked in a clothing store during high school, and a co-worker was in school for court reporting. While I did not really know much about it, court reporting sounded interesting. I first went to college and did not know what direction I wanted to go, so checked out court reporting; and the rest, as they say, is history. Started my career as a young court reporter, stayed with the same company for my reporting life, and eventually became a partner in the business. In 1996 I started captioning, a bit reluctantly. The closed captioning side of our business was starting to grow, so my business partner kind of pushed me into it.
The best thing she could have done.
For many years I would caption morning news (or middle of the night, some might say) from home, race to the office to be there and available most of the day, except when out taking depositions or captioning shows from the office, and then race back home to caption afternoon or evening shows. Two years ago, my business partner and I decided to sell the business, so I no longer have a regular pattern of 15-hour days; I only do that on occasion now!
Selling the business was the best thing I have done in many years. I am now in charge of only my schedule and no one else’s. Such a freeing and liberating feeling!
It is also a time in my life to get back to what I love to do, and have done in the past; getting back to and exploring my creative side. I am in the process of setting up an art studio in my home, have taken up metalsmithing and jewelry arts. Still learning, but so enjoying it. When time permits, and the schedule allows, I cook gourmet; always searching for new, fun, and interesting recipes, with daily trips to the food co-op or farmer’s market. Sure keeps my husband guessing!
Additional goals for 2016/2017
Taking violin lessons (which I have been putting off for a few years), and attending a Master Gardener program through the university extension. Perennial gardens are my favourite, with a few vegetables thrown in here and there. My home and property are surrounded by beautiful plants in the summer. The last thing that rounds out my life is my family; two daughters and son-in-laws, including four young grandchildren, from five years of age to an infant, who surprisingly and lovingly call me “Pumpkin.”
Being a subcontracted independent closed captioner has allowed me to have the freedom to enjoy life and take the time to do the things I love now and will do into the future. As I am a bit of a loner and do like working by myself, it fits my personality. I enjoy the many captioning friends I have made over the years, and look forward to talking with them online. It is certainly an interesting and rewarding community to be a part of and could think of nothing else I would rather be doing.
This article was written by Cheri Benson, an experienced broadcast captioner for The Captioning Group.