Captioning Corner: Weirdest Commercial Breaks

By Deanna Baker

I asked a few captioning friends of mine, "What was the strangest thing you did during a commercial break while captioning?" In order to preserve my friendships, I am granting everyone anonymity.

One December I was captioning a program in the evening. Everybody else was out, and I was alone in the house. My office is right at the front of the house and can be seen from the street or sidewalk. A courier was delivering a gift, rang the doorbell several times which I ignored. Then he starts banging on the door which, of course, makes the dog go absolutely crazy. Then he comes to my office window, lifts himself up on the ledge and shows me his clipboard and pen and smiles at me. Then he goes back to the door to wait for me to come which of course I don't. Then he starts banging on the door again. Then he comes outside my office window and starts jumping up and down in front of my window with his clipboard held up, not smiling anymore. Finally made it to commercial and went and signed for the package. Some people just don't know when they're being ignored.

Not the strangest thing I've done, I'm sure, but speaking of Christmas .... One year my youngest sister was on a tight budget and asked that we siblings not exchange gifts between our families anymore. We all agreed. Christmas Day I showed up at Grandma's at 2 p.m. for dinner and noticed gifts under the tree from the sisters. I said, "I thought we weren't exchanging gifts." Little sister said, "I lied." I should have known — she's a worse shopaholic than I am. Apparently, she told my other sister she changed her mind, but I didn't get the memo. After dinner I rushed back to my house 15 minutes away to caption the 6 p.m. news, ransacked my "Gift Department" in the walk-in closet, and during the commercials I frantically wrapped gifts for four adults and three children. Not bad for a half-hour news show, huh? I made it back to Grandma's by 7 p.m. and slid my bags under the tree on the way in just in time for gift-opening ceremonies.

My house was for sale. We had a school shooting in our area, lots of incredibly emotional stuff going on the TV, nonstop coverage. My realtor comes over with the papers to sign accepting an offer on our house. I'm crying, writing all this school shooting coverage, and we finally get a commercial break. There's my realtor, "Great, now you can sign the papers!" That was too weird. He had no idea about the school shooting. He sat on the floor, watching TV with me, waiting for the commercial break, just amazed at the news, just waiting for me to be able to sign the papers. So I sold my house while captioning an emergency. Talk about multitasking!

Run outside and stop my dog from killing baby rabbits. Yes, this was occurring just outside my window in my line of view.

Would cleaning up dog poop and pee qualify as strange on a commercial break? I mean, for me it's normal.

I was showering/getting dressed right before air and was running out of time. I thought, well, I'll just change at the first commercial break. It was the day they shot the guy on the Columbia/Miami flight, and they never went to break for two hours. Thank God for the space heater below my desk because it was cold in here.

Let's just say we were trying to get pregnant, and my temp was right!

At the risk of getting fired for this ... how would shaving my legs stack up as a strange thing to do during a commercial break? I swear, it was only one time, and it took several commercials to accomplish the task.

So I'm a little late getting home to get in on this, but I tell the story of needing to get ready for something that I had to leave for immediately after getting off the air early in the morning. Decided to get ready a little at a time with each commercial. For one of those commercials, I took a shower. Yes. As I was drying myself off, my internal clock said get back to the chair and check, and they were just finishing out the last commercial, so I had to drop the towel and proceed to caption, as I say, wearing nothing but my headset and a smile until I could get dressed during the next commercial. Never tried that again. What other job could a person even think of doing that!

Something I've done on a commercial break ... unclogged a toilet.

I've had to chase various critters, birds, geckos, mice, chipmunks, and voles around the house that my cats have brought in, trying to lock them up until I could send them on their way in one piece.

In addition, I put out a soon-to-be fire my fireman husband had caused in the kitchen before leaving the house.

About the author

Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR, is from Flagstaff, Ariz. If you have a question about captioning, you can ask her at