TSA Ate my laptop – version 1

Quick recap of what’s going on here.  I left my laptop at TSA in Austin last Tuesday and on it was my homework for my writing class.  Disaster!  So, in order to maintain my good-student standing I quickly recreated my 600 word character study from memory and presented it in class, also on Tuesday.  (The details of the assignment and the AACCKKK! version of my story were detailed earlier.)  Today at 10:00 the FedEx man delivered my lost laptop to me, and I did not hug him, but I wanted to.  I ripped off the bubble wrap and hugged my laptop.  It didn’t mind.  It missed me too.

Now, after doing all the work things that were waiting for me on the recovered laptop, I can present to you the first version of my assignment.  The one I was thoughtful about, edited, and worked hard on.  Then the fun part.  Let’s compare which story was better!

As a reminder the assignment was to “imagine a person with an idiosyncratic way of seeing the world…Have this character witness a traumatic event” using first person point of view and 600 words.  (Check out the 3 AM Epiphany for this writing assignment and a host of others.)

I’m not one of those go getters.  My comfort zone isn’t being the lead, or making the strategy, or finding a new path.  Really, I like being told what to do, and I think that’s an overlooked and important role.  As much as my mother complains about my lack of initiative even she sees the benefit.  When she asks me to do the laundry or make dinner, I do it right, every time – provided she gives me the right level of detail in her instructions.

Life is made up of vague requests and other people spend their energy chasing after the right problem.  Not me.  In college, I’d utilize office hours to make sure I really understood assignments.  Exactly what did my professor want the program to do and how should I code it?  The bonus was that sometimes he would even start the assignment for me, because it was the best way for him to provide me with total clarity.  That’s what I’m always striving for.  Total clarity.

My desire to do what I’m told doesn’t mean I’m a follower, far from it.  As soon as it was legal I changed my given name from Charlie to Charlemagne, because it better represented the persona I want to present to the world.  There is a misconception that people who want to please can’t be unique individuals.

Unfortunately, it’s been hard to find my way after college.  I’ve been let go from three jobs because they said I lacked initiative.  What they wanted was some person who was willing to go off and waste time solving vague problems because my bosses were too lazy to define what they really wanted, but I probably shouldn’t have told them that.

I’ve found a niche for myself, though.  Hackathons: events where a bunch of coders, entrepreneurs and big thinkers get together to solve a problem over a weekend.  The big thinkers get up and pitch ideas and the coders, like me, have to create a prototype.  In no time I learned how to pinpoint the big thinkers who needed me: the ones who knew exactly what they wanted done and needed someone to do it.

I won a couple of hackathons with my strategy:  even a big one worth $5,000.  But the best part of being a hacker was that it made me a hero.  One night I was getting some last details from this executive guy.  Everyone else had left, and he was going on about how market share, or something.  Suddenly, he stopped talking and grabbed his chest.  He dropped to the floor.

What was I supposed to do?  Crouching down next to the guy I asked what he needed, but he wasn’t able to answer.  When I called out for help no one came.  I sat next to him for a bit, but after he didn’t wake up I decided to leave.  I made it as far as the hallway, then clarity.  There was one of those AED things on the wall.  I ripped it open, and it started talking to me.  The machine told me exactly what to do, and I did it.  When the machine told me to call 911 I did that too.  Then the dispatcher told me exactly what to do.  When the paramedics arrived they checked the guy out and said, “You saved this guy’s life.  You are a hero.”  I saved a guy’s life doing exactly what I was told.  I’m really hoping he makes a full recovery and then gives me a job.  My clarity saved his life.

Oh.  Some things are better, but some things are worse.  What do you think readers?  I’ll provide my own self-evaluation next!

19 thoughts on “TSA Ate my laptop – version 1

  1. My initial reaction is that the quickly written one actually flows better and sounds more like a person telling his story. I can feel where the one above is a little too polished.

    However, if I am remembering right, the first story didn’t quite make clear to me what the character was after–total clarity. I wasn’t sure what he (she) valued quite as clearly as the one above does. Smoother transition.

    I do prefer the one you read to the class. It has more energy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Now that’s interesting feedback. I also felt the clarity value was clearer in this version. For sure the flow was better in version 2, but that the theme element was lacking. You and I are on the exact same page with our analysis. And oh, the “too polished” is killing me in a couple of other things I’m working on. I have got to figure out how to create a “finished” work without making is stilted. Any ideas or tips and tricks would be appreciated. Thanks so much for reading and your feedback. I’ve loved this opportunity that my silly mistake made!


    1. See, this is such a fascinating process. I like version 2 better, but you are the second reader to like this one better. It’s interesting that your read honesty in this version more than in the other. I didn’t look at it with that lens, so now I want to read it all over again. Thanks for the read and the feedback. I’m loving this!


    1. Oooh… your comments are so good! In the initial 700 word version the Charlemagne part was fleshed out even more. I loved it, but it didn’t fit with my character limit. I do feel like that part really gives a deeper dive into his “warped sense of reality.” Your high level vision of who this guy was spot on. Also, your rationale about why the V2 ending is better is so perfect! Much better than my analysis. Thanks for your thoughtful response. I loved it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I mostly liked take 1 better, but I liked the ending of the second one where he said it was great but what he’d really been hoping for a job. Rather than in the first one where he is still looking forward to an outcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, Kiri, we are on different sides on this one. I liked version 2 better. However, I totally agree with you about the ending. If this is a standalone writing the ending of take 2 feels better. This community writing has been really interesting for me. This is my first class/workshop/group where we’ve shared work and I’ve been surprised how much I’ve enjoyed it and LEARNED. Every class is so brain filling! Thanks for reading and for your comment, even if we disagree. (Actually, I love the disagree part, because it help expands my idea of what my audience might want or like.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how you’ve turned your ordeal into these fun posts where we get to read two versions of your assignment! So, I liked this one until I read version two and now I like version two better. The reason: all the details are there but your character’s personality comes through more fluidly. Glad you’ve been reunited with your laptop☺️.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leslie! I totally agree with you. I think that while version 2 has some kinks to work out it represents my character better. While I am not glad I lost my laptop, I am glad I got to do this exercise and share it with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: TSA Ate my Laptop – the Analysis – Afthead

  5. I like both versions. It depends on your purpose, I suppose. This one sounds like a writer who is describing a character. The other one sounds like natural writing, as if the character is telling us who he is, as if unmotivated guy is blogging about the time he just happened to save someone’s life lol Know what I mean?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gasp!

      As always you are a genius Kathy. You nailed it perfectly. Version 1 is totally written like a writer (who has the majority of her experience writing technical papers and e-mails.) The other one totally sounds like the unmotivated dope is just telling his buddies how how he “happened to save someone’s life.” You are exactly right. I love this analysis. Now, I just need to figure out when to channel which voice. So. Much. Learning. Yay!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, so interesting! A vote for the original version. I’m learning so much through this process. Thanks for your comments and your rationale for liking the original version.


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