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!