Moon Base 7

I was going to do a review of the 2020 movie “Antebellum,” but I’m not sure enough time has gone by for people to have seen it (or if people even intend to see it) and the problem of spoilers and all that.

So I guess I’ll wait a while (although I’m frothing at the mouth, and it’s not good froth) and do it later this year and instead take you—drag you–kidnap you—down a special rabbit hole with me. Concerning what? My job.

I stumbled across a closed captioning ad in the UCLA job center one afternoon. It was completely unexpected. I visited the center regularly, never thinking I’d actually find a job. In fact, I was on the verge of full-blown panic when I discovered the captioning ad.

I’d majored in English and ruined my life. I didn’t have the drive to work for a newspaper or to compete for those coveted publishing house positions. I was too shy (and unorganized) to be teacher. And this was before there was any social media or web content available to write, edit, or proof-read from the anonymity of one’s home.

But closed captioning looked doable. It said something about “creating subtitles” for TV shows and movies. Being detailed oriented. A good speller. Blah, blah, blah. I was actually a terrible speller, regardless of my major, but I figured that’s what dictionaries were for. (Yes, this was before spellcheck).

I applied in Hollywood at Gower Studios and passed the test but ended up turning that down when I realized there was a New York office. I’d been hankering to live somewhere where I didn’t have to drive anymore, so that, along with the thought of snow and actual seasons, sent me to the east coast.

I’d glimpsed the captioning equipment in the Hollywood office, but that hadn’t fully prepared my psyche for the monstrosity that awaited me. The only thing missing from this photo was the nob control that we used to operate the video.

Captioning turned out to be pretty rewarding. Instead of getting fired, as I had predicted upon arrival, I picked up the process pretty well and was pounding out Jeopardy! like a maniac within a month or so. And there were other shows, where I learned a lot, and movies. Who could complain? I was also enjoying NYC’s seasons, despite almost giving myself a hernia while slipping on ice in Manhattan or feeling my DNA unraveling beneath the immense humidity of summer.

I learned to spell at this job. I discovered (embarrassingly, pathetically late) that airplane hangar was spelled differently from a clothes hanger and beaucoup was not spelled boo koo. After a while, I became a senior editor and mainly did proofing and quality control, which…meh. I’ve always preferred the actual captioning. Among some of the best and most infamous errors caught over the years (not by me) were:

The rings of Saturday

The abdominal Snowman

And the best one: Hi Hitler.

I’ve signed a NDA, wherein I’m not allowed to talk about anything concerning the shows I do, much less the job’s inner workings, so I’ll have to use alternate words for everything here.

So basically, you walked in, grabbed your show (on videotape) and spent your entire shift doing a 20-minute sitcom or 25 minutes of a movie. You exported a Buddha button in XX frame rate on a soft floppy disc. A few years later, it would be a hard floppy disc.

You printed out long sheaths of paper with your entire file on it, shamelessly murdering generations of trees, so that your supervisors could circle missing commas and typos. It was the ‘80s, after all, and “Wall Street” was playing. The environment was still not a concern. Greed was still good.

You turned off the computer and went home, wide awake, energetic, happy to be alive.

Fast forward in time many, many years.

Videotapes are gone. Discs are gone. Simplicity is gone, along with understanding. This is the setup now, more or less.

You walk in. You clock in on the computer to show you have arrived, you’re ready to work. The one sit-com is there. But so are eight other varying items too. You must set a clock every time you start a job. The email pings constantly. You search for information. A response turns reality upside down. What? It has to be done in X0 and not 0X?! You wander a labyrinth made of cipher and higher math that you haven’t revisited since the tenth grade, all the while with the clock ticking like a time bomb.

Speaking in code again, you no longer export a simple Buddha button. You export a Buddha, a Rock, a dictated Soda, an undictated Soda, and a Nail in XX frame and then engage in some light calculus and first-year IT coding in order to complete the assignment.

Here’s an example of instructions that I’ve rewritten in the special language especially for you. Just skim it unless you truly enjoy torture:

After running final inventory, remove the original NO WORDS PLACE.

Export an XX Rock button.

Convert your button to XX0.

Add a SpaceX space and fantasize discreetly about Mars.

This should be the last Frog and have a Beta Male Life Cycle with the Initiator being jacked directly following the last Frog with content.

Export with the Moon Base preset.

Drop all buttons into Moon Base 7.

For the Poster button, go through and re-calibrate all bells and whistles.

Retain Raindrops on leaves.

Remove Tech Word for NOISE (Keep the Tech Word on Alphabet. Because of this, you can’t do a Piledriver now. Also, removing the Tech Word may distort items, so don’t count your chickens).

Export Rock, Buddha, and Razor buttons (In the Tech Word reappearing box, uncheck Gladiator and use NO NUMBER as Initiator to retain the NUMBER Life Cycle in the Razor button.) Double-check in Magic Paper to make sure Razor has NUMBER initiators and that Space Time Continuum has been retained and is still Resonating at X0-21-21-01.

My name is Stacey, and this is my story.

I used to carve messages in stone with a sharp tool.

Now I program the space shuttle, whether I want to or not.

But I know—think—am pretty sure—that after I drop all buttons into Moon Base 7, everything will be fine.

33 thoughts on “Moon Base 7

  1. Haha what a delightful read!! Sounds like the job was a good fit before it became more of an IT role. I can imagine that sometimes you and your friends would have little bets to see who could insert the most strange phrase or word that you could legitimately claim as a genuine mistake 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks BRG! I appreciate it. It was the best job on earth before the transformation, and I’m often just hanging on by my fingertips. As for the mistakes–TOTALLY. We’d joke about that all the time. You’re psychic! (or are we just all cliched? lol)

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are so very welcome; it was really enjoyable read! And this was the first time I have seen a five inch floppy disk in years 😉

        Haha, I could just imagine folks being creative with their deniable ‘mistakes’ 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oops. I think I’m ahead of you here instead of behind you. See? Luddite!! But there wasn’t another “reply” button beneath your second reply, so…..
        Yeah, same here about the 5 inch floppy! That’s probably a photo of one I actually used years ago, lol.
        The company I started with and was at for 17 1/2 years, NCI, innovated much of the captioning technology. We were King once !!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Brava, Stacey! I love this! I use a lot of closed captioning…frequently I can’t sleep so I stay up and watch movies or true crime shows while my husband is snoozing away, but he is a very light sleeper who wakes up in a panic hence the closed captioning.
    Anyway, I just knew closed captioning was complicated and that it took a unique skill set. It’s funny that you naturally are not a good speller. I would have thought otherwise. I’m a terrible speller. But I kind of miss going to the dictionary all the time. I don’t learn as many new words by just googling the word (which sometimes I can’t even do because I’m so far off the correct spelling; embarrassing.)
    Great post.
    –Pam

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pam! Wow, yeah, spelling. I’m better now, but I used to be ATROCIOUS. I love the feature in the Kindle pad, though, where you can highlight a word with your finger and the definition comes up. Now, of course, the problem is REMEMBERING it, ’cause I’ll basically forget it 5 minutes later. I’m just hoping it’ll be planted in my brain somewhere and resurface later.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Neil. Yeah, the use of captions has definitely expanded over the years beyond just the hard of hearing, so it’s fantastic. It keeps me going!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. God I loved reading this!

    It went down the back of the throat like milk and honey, so smoothly was it written. This is the epitome of the evolution of a lot of people’s jobs over the years, I reckon. The job they are doing now bears some resemblance to the job they were doing back then but not a lot… even though the job title is still the same.

    This ‘worker’s lament’ is equal parts gripping and hilarious to read.
    Go the raindrops on leaves!
    Marvelous memoir Stacey.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Many thanks, Glen! Admittedly, I’ve had an insanely difficult couple of months at work and this blog helps with venting. I know so many people are out of jobs and I shouldn’t be complaining at all. But Alan Toffler DID predict exactly this in Future Shock: “The accelerated rate of technological and social change leaves people disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”—future shocked.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always wondered why occasionally we’ll get caption dialogue missing in the actual film. I saw a film recently and a character entered a room and the caption said, “Hello”, though the character had said nothing at all. It kind of made me laugh, like the person doing the captioning had thought, this scene needs a little something more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All sorts of mishaps continually happen that probably have people scratching their heads or laughing. Many complaints about typos! In many situations, companies edit videos AFTER they’ve been captioned. So someone could hear “hello” initially, but the final video deleted that “hello,” while the caption remained. Go figure!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The rings of Saturday had me chuckling tearfully. It’s fascinating how the interface between human and machine is shrinking, even as real-life, flesh and blood people like your good self are twisting themselves into a kind of processing cushion. Gotta say though, I rely on TV captions to help me get past my own shitty hearing and the mumbling of characters on the screen. Which, of course, gives me lots of entertainment when the ‘translator’ occasionally gets the dialogue hugely wrong.Is there any form of secondary back up to make sure that those mistakes are rare?

    Liked by 2 people

      • I know! If I’m not hard of hearing BEFORE the movie, I will be AFTER the movie, Chris (and others). Sometimes they send work tapes to us like that, where we can’t even hear the dialogue under the music.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I know so many people who use the captioning to supplement their hearing and/or something similar like that. So glad to continue hearing how useful it is! Sometimes when I’m captioning those folks who mumble–oh my god–if I had their address, their house would be SO TPed! As for typos and other errors–live captioning is rampant with them, but it’s a different beast from what we do in post-production. We have many different levels of QC to try to prevent as much as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi there. The strange things I put in there is actually what some of the instructions sound like to me the first time I’m slogging through them, lol. Thanks for dropping by, and thanks for your kind words.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very interesting, and informative Stacey, my grammar, and spelling are terrible despite reading three languages, or maybe because of it, when I first got the bug of writing, I was thinking of buying a typewriting machine, that may give you a hint of how old I am, anyway I did not, I bought instead a word processor, that become obsolete in about a year, I couldn’t get the proper type ribbons for it, it sat unused for about a year until I just dumped on the trash.
    Ironically went online pretty late, I even worked at two big companies where my job was to seat in front of a computer, for customer service, and where I had to learn to do complex operations, reading a manual online provided to us for doing company procedures, that were difficult to follow, I could say from knowing nothing about computers in about two years, I become the number one of their operators, in both companies, out of the many hundreds of us working at one time on those companies, I did not hurt I become also their best salesman, since our job, after the customer problem was resolved, we had to offer a sales pitch, my last company decided to relocate to Birmingham Alabama, and I was the only of two employees who was offered to be relocated there, with all moving expenses paid, but I turned down the offer, figuring I had nothing to do living in such a far off, and unfamiliar place, ironically the Ex who took the children away, end living there, I did not knew that at the time, just found out a little over a year ago when my son contact me, you read the story.
    But after years of working behind a computer it took me four or five years after to go and buy one, and go online, at work we were forbidden by any reason to go online, to browse outside the company, and since we were strictly monitored, never did it.

    Take care Stacey. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Even at the height of my Spanish, when I was pretty fluent, I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to use it for an actual job! We’re only the same in our bad spelling, and I’m only bad in ONE language, more or less, since I don’t write or read in Spanish anymore. Oh, and forget reading a complex manual about something I was largely unfamiliar with to begin with! The sad part about my experiences at my job is I’m pretty much an expert at captioning at this point (I’d better be!) but reading instructions on the fly about new procedures or processes–unless they’re extremely clear, it takes me SO LONG to slog through them. I don’t know. I guess my brain just doesn’t work that way. But props to you, Burning Heart. You accomplished a lot, even if you weren’t sure about it at first. Probably because you didn’t let fear take you over.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, at first it was hard, but I am not dumb, and was determined to do a god job, and with time I succeeded, that’s about it. In the first company there was a particular task, that they only allowed you to work for an hour, at a time. since every call you will listen to a tape recorder the customer will place, and you had only ten seconds to pull the proper three files with the information to the customer an send it back to the customer, out of over two hundred people, only three of us were qualified to do it, you were only allowed to drop three calls on the whole hour, after, that they will pull you out, to me it was like a videogame play, and after some weeks doing it I ended doing , up to five hours with no rest, at that particular task, meanwhile the other two guys will do an hour, and that was it. My margin of error was minimal two, or three at most out of a thousand calls. my secret? I will just get into the zone, just like playing a videogame, or like playing ping- pong, and keep your eye on the ball, that by the way I was very good at, not so much ping pong, but videogames, but hardly do, now day. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Holy cow. Yeah, I know about the zone. I HAVE to get into a zone, otherwise I’d never get through some of this work. But that sounds incredibly difficult. If I’m feeling panicked in any way at all, I’ll fumble the ball. I would NOT have been good at that job, lol !! Everyone probably viewed you with not a little bit of awe (and jealousy) I’m thinking….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nah! Not jealousy, more like relief, that they were not in my shoes, but of course they wouldn’t mind the many special prizes that I used to get, for my work, my bosses did not knew what to gift me with, some of the stuff did not have any use for it, an will give them away, I would have preferred money instead, but we already had bonuses, I cannot remember how many useless stuff I got, that I will give away, like an endless amount of T shirts, wallets, pens, blankets, coffee mugs, besides other more useful stuff, like a brand new TV, followed by a nice Video recorder, a company phone, and a laptop, needless to say every year, I was the employee of the year, for the two, and three years I worked for those companies, and did not want to move to Alabama.
    And it’s just happen to be hired the first day at a business, I used to meet with friends, on my days off, the moment I mentioned I was out of work, the manager of the business, also a friend, say to me: “Why don’t you come to work with us tomorrow?”
    I said: “If you give me a couple of weeks to go visit my family, I surely will love to come and work with you guys:” He said: “Take a month if you wish.”
    Well I was there 20 days later and got a new job, my last job before retiring, I was there with them for over sixteen years, and would still be there working ,except for the fact the old owner died, and the new people who took over ruined it in a couple of years, and went out of business, and it was such a nice job, very laidback, and interesting to be there by the people it used to patronize us, and my nice fellow workers. 😒

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a great way to get a job! “Sure, take your time. Come work for us when you get back,” lol !! I love it. The best ever. Thank god it lasted so long before it got blown up by the morons. So funny how that ALWAYS happens, huh? A friend of mine in another captioning company was working there for years. Everything was fine. Then when some new people came on board, CEOs, they started demanding things that were impossible and arguing with my friend, who was a supervisor by then, about captioning when they had absolutely zero knowledge of captioning or what they were talking about. 3/4 of the office quit, and everything went down in flames. It’s always the same. People walk into something good and have no idea what makes it good and seemingly no interest in trying to figure out what makes it good.
    Oh, well.
    Definitely sounds like a dream job you had, while it lasted. That’s what my job was like the first 17 1/2 years when I was with a different company. It was a dream job, but we were unionized, unfortunately, in Los Angeles, and eventually the union negotiations failed and the company decided to just close the office and let all of us go. My heart was broken that day. Such a waste!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nothing last for ever, specially a good thing like a nice job. Through my life I had many jobs, some lasting years, others maybe months, only two stand on my mind as enjoyable, this last one, was one of them, even if it was not very well paid, but it was decent, and at the time I already knew it will be my last job before retiring, it ended a year and six months before I could get full retirement, made some numbers, and decided to not look for another job, hold with my severance, and savings the six months, and retired a year before, and moved out from LA to save on rent, and left five weeks later, it was too bad my old boss died, but he was 97 when he died, he opened that business in 1928, when he was a teenager, not even fifteen, it was too much to ask he could hold to be over a hundred to die. Unfortunately the people he inherited the business, a daughter in law, a widow, and her boyfriend, had no idea on how to run it, and did not seek help from us the employees, we knew right away that they not only not knew, what they were doing, but were totally incompetent, and too self conscious, and beyond their dignity, to seek advice from us the workers, they keep running the business into the ground, pretending they knew what they were doing, like if we the employees who knew the business, could not see their blunders! It was hilarious, but too painful to see it happen, on his testament, he left a provision for us the employees, to be used after the business will close, but since the business went broke, and the new owners took a loan on the property, a loan that they were unable to pay, the bank took it away from them, and sold the property, we have not heard a word from the lawyers, as to be expected.
    Recently I received a picture from a friend, the place has been torn down, and it may seem they plan to build something new at the place. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Aw, jeez, that’s kinda sad. Wow. I cannot even IMAGINE opening a business when I was 15 years old that lasted almost 100 years! But that’s a true entrepreneur for you. And things were different then. With drive and determination, one probably could fill a niche easier than nowadays when the creativity has already happened and people are just riding the coattails of everybody else. Like my captioning company was king and innovator for a long time, but after everyone rode their coattails and a million other people started captioning, the good pay, the private rooms, all that disappeared and it just became a sludge job.

    I had a couple jobs before captioning and didn’t like any of them. I worked for an older gentleman once in Beverly Hills. I took the bus from the San Fernando Valley over the hill to Beverly Hills and typed up resumes for him. He once had me staple the cuffs of his pants up because the hem was falling out.

    I hate to hear that your old job got torn down, though, all memory of it wiped clean. I know nothing lasts forever. But if people DID try to learn what makes something good, like why a company runs well and does well, learned the ins and outs, humbled themselves to find out from the workers how they could “help” instead of “we’re here to take over”…. can you imagine how many places would remain open and flourish? Evidently it’s not in people’s nature to use their common sense, though. Ego seems to win out like 99% of the time.
    I’ve enjoyed chatting with you, Burning Heart! Thanks so much for engaging. It’s been a very interesting journey, this one AND the love one, of course, with your “nemesis” from childhood who actually wasn’t your nemesis but was evidently very much in love with you, lol !!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. No need to thank me, mostly I guess with the isolation of the pandemic, my retirement, plus being away from LA, it seems I have time to write stuff, that maybe I shouldn’t.
    Since I am abusing your courtesy, and maybe your patience.
    As for the love, I guess it was all teenage bungling around, for lack of experience.
    But it’s sweet to have memories, at least I am not a total cynic.
    I even joke with a friend I should go over there, and tell my old sweetheart: “Hey, if I am still alive, when your old man gets to kick the bucket, I can be there as replacement, and start were we left.”😉🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I thought I had responded to this! I wanted to say no, no, no, not abusing patience or anything else. It’s been a complete delight and nothing else. Write all you want, say all you want, and I’ll always read and always respond (even if a little late) because I truly enjoy the stories, the ideas, the thoughts, the interaction. Thanks for engaging, Burning Heart., sincerely.
    As for the sweetheart: Hehehe…..
    I know you can’t actually do it, but wouldn’t it be interesting if you did……? “Hey, I’m still here…. see ya in the funny papers.” Haha. Ah, well……..

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thanks, new developments have happen in my life, but regarding other person, things are shaky, right now, but I will keep you posted later Stacey.😊😉

    Liked by 1 person

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