A year and a half ago, when people asked me what I did for a job, I could give an answer that was universally understood and required no further explanation – “I’m a teacher.” Of course, this would be followed by details of where, what and who I was teaching, but generally, people were never confused as to what exactly I did on a day-to-day basis. Nowadays, when someone asks me what I do, I hesitate a bit before answering. Saying, “I’m a captioner” usually results in a variety of confused looks, and almost always involves me having to launch into a lengthy, detailed explanation.
I don’t blame anyone, because a year ago, I would’ve had the same reaction. A year ago, “captioner” would’ve fallen under the category of fun things I didn’t think I could do and get paid for. It’s silly, because I watch TV, and I know about captions and subtitles, and I know someone must produce them, but I never considered that that person could be me, or that I could earn a living from it.
That’s the reason why, when I saw the advertisement for the job pop up on my job-hunt website, and realised that I fit the description of the kind of people the company was looking for, I applied very tentatively, not at all sure that anything would come out of it. It’s why, when I was short-listed for the position, I wasn’t sure it would lead to an actual interview. That’s why when I was called for the interview and had a wonderful chat with the woman who’s now my boss, I still couldn’t process that it would lead to an actual job, because it all seemed too good to be true. Someone was going to pay me to watch TV and nitpick about grammar? Had someone reached into my subconscious and created a job from the two things I enjoyed doing the most? There had to be a catch, right?
I’ve been a captioner for about six months now, and I’m happy to report that, no, the other shoe hasn’t yet dropped. I waited almost half a year for this position (the Singapore branch of the company was, at the time of my application for the position, just being set up, so the higher-ups had to iron out a lot of issues before they could officially hire me), but in every other way, I feel nothing but lucky.
There are those people, however, who, when I explain to them what I do, have a way of making it seem like it’s a job that requires no skill whatsoever. “You just have to listen and type, right? What’s the big deal?” I know I shouldn’t get defensive, because you get those kinds of people and those kinds of comments in any situation. “You just have to teach kids, right? What’s the big deal?” And yes, when I consider teaching and the ridiculous amount of skill, effort and mental courage it takes, captioning feels like the simplest, easiest thing in the world. But there is a skill to it and there is effort put into it, and it can feel offensive when someone implies I get paid for doing nothing. Then again, if I’m getting paid for doing nothing, I must be doing something right, huh?
Regardless of what people say, though, I’m happy with my job, one that lets me combine my strengths and my interests. It’s like my Venn diagrams of work and play have overlapped, and I couldn’t have asked for more. It’s proof to me that, yes, it is possible for work to not be a chore, to come back feeling happy and satisfied after a long day at the office, instead of tired and frustrated, and, most importantly, to not have the Sunday blues.
Who would’ve thought?