Because I am the Biggest Idiot in the Entire Idiotic History of Idiocy

I have left my MacBook Air at an airport. AGAIN.


Boy, I tell you, if I did not have a contractual work due, a family and people I love, a moral sense that recoils against self-abnegation and a sense of proportion about the tragedies of this life, I would totally kill myself right now. Because I am that much of an idiot.

Anyway. Lost and found reports filed with both the airport and the airline, the Air remotely locked with my contact information provided, and I’m currently working on the Acer, i.e., the temp laptop I bought the last time I lost my MacBook Air. Now we wait — again — to see if it shows up — again. If it doesn’t, then in a week or so I will file an insurance claim and then somehow try to find the strength to move forward. We’ll see if I make it.

101 Comments on “Because I am the Biggest Idiot in the Entire Idiotic History of Idiocy”

  1. There but for the grace of Jobs go I. It’s actually not an uncommon problem. The new ultrabooks are so light its no longer obvious you don’t have them in your bag anymore as compared to the old lapbricks.

  2. To quote you from WAY BACK on may 23rd :

    “I will never lose my MacBook Air again. Ever. I SWEAR.”

    Need I say more?

  3. I dunno, is your subconscious hankering so much for a Macbook Pro that it keeps ditching the Air in hopes that your conscious can be goaded into getting one?

    If you get it back, and handcuff it to your wrist in the future, how much grief do you think you’d get from TSA about it?

  4. Man, that sucks. I hope they can find it for you. My laptop recently became unresponsive for a good 4 hours (I think it overheated) and for the 3rd or 4th time in a year I found myself going over everything stored on an electronic device trying to calculate the damage done to my life … I really wish computers wouldn’t break or get lost. #firstworldproblems I need the future now!

  5. There is a website for iphones that, if it is on, lets you type in your phone number and it tells you the address of where it is located. It also can send a call to the phone, which helps if you lose it in your house, or wherever (if the volume is on, of course).

    Sounds like the Mac Air and other small laptop devices needs the same type of technology, maybe tweaked a bit.

  6. Anenome:

    The good news (such as it is) is that everything critical I have on the computer is backed up, so I’m only out the computer, not work.


    The FindMyIphone service also finds computers, etc. I am using it.

  7. You are not alone. I think the # of Laptops found in London cabs alone per year exceeds 6.000. I hope you had everything encrypted on the disk.

    Good luck, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  8. Are you sure this is not your subconscious being too lazy to carry it from the airport to your house so you ‘accidently leave it’ so that the airline has to ship it to you? :)

    That must be annoying and one reason why I try to avoid taking my laptop anywhere if I can help it… Hope it shows up!

  9. Sounds like you need to keep it chained to you with a set of handcuffs, like a briefcase filled with money. Though tim eisele may be right, the TSA might give you a hard time about that. ;-)

  10. At this rate I’d start to suspect you’re not losing it, but it is trying to escape.

  11. Ditto what Jeff Linder said above about this being a really common problem with the new ultra-book sized laptops. I rarely loose anything, certainly I’ve never previously lost anything as expensive as a computer. But I’ve left my MacBook Air behind twice while traveling — once in the seat back pocket on a (late) 1am arrival into Quito. Amazingly, it’s been returned both times.

  12. Josh Jasper:

    Mostly Google-related stuff. I’m largely writing in Google docs these days (and porting out when necessary). And I mail myself pretty much everything via GMail. But I also use Dropbox for occasional things.

  13. @John I hope you meant data “backed up and encrypted on the lost drive”. You can tell a lot by a persons hard disk. Here in Germany a politician lost his job last year because the data somehow ended up in the hands of the Hells Angels….

  14. maybe you’re not really a Mac person, John, and this is the Universe’s way of letting you know.

  15. This is fate telling you: “Don’t buy any more Apple products. Go Open Source.”

    Believe me.

  16. This seems like a good time to tell you that yesterday when I was reading Redshirts on the bus on the way to work, I went 15 minutes past my stop. Prior to this, only Connie Willis had done this to me.

  17. I hope you left a copy of Redshirts with it. I know how it is, we’ve lost stuff in airports before. (And that time no one turned it in).

  18. Ouch. Have you considered going in a different direction with a pair of Chromebooks? That’s what I do with sunglasses — buy cheap ones and keep redundant copies…

  19. I can understand about the new laptops being so light. This is partly why I have a big-ass SLR camera, rather than a pocket sized point-and-shoot.

  20. Surely someone somewhere has invented an app that can provide proximity alerts to your phone if you end up more than 10 feet away from your laptop. If not, someone should get on that.

  21. Clearly, you need a young, cute PA traveling with you, a legitimate business expense.

  22. I think this is a sign that the Mac Book Air is not meant to leave the home, sure the lighter weight makes it easier to carry for travel but well there is obviously a down side to this advantage. I hope it makes its way back to you again.

  23. Thank you for (inadvertently) reminding me to run a backup. That is what I got a new jumpdrive for.

    Since getting my 11″ Air in May, I’ve only flown one segment, and got into my boarding group for that with all of 15 minutes to spare. Therefore I did not have the opportunity to lose it in the layover shuffle.

    Checklist, maybe?

    The haplessness you describe is not solely your province, either.

  24. You need to buy the new iTether. One end attaches to a Macbook and the other to a bowling ball. Even if you forget it at the security gate they will track you down to retrieve it.

  25. So, um, where?

    On the seat while waiting for plane? At security?
    And after all of this, you dont have “find my phone/apple thingy” loaded?

    But yes, you win.

    Maybe you need a really long/ugly lanyard. I could be attached to your neck/shoe/bag/wrist/neck.
    I have found that a lanyard is the ONLY way that I can ever find my thumb drive and authenticator.

  26. Really, people. I’m an Apple hater from way back, but maybe you shouldn’t emulate the Mac Fanboy Dicks who stalk forums and tell people, “maybe you should have bought a Mac”.

    I do see a short story coming out of this, maybe.

  27. Yep, that’s pretty bad. Did you leave the whole laptop bag again or just the MacBook? Maybe whenever you’re in an airport we should all tweet to you to not leave your computer behind. But really you shouldn’t be relying on the internet for everything.

  28. This sounds like something that I’d do. My wife likes to tease me about all the moronic mistakes I make. So, you’re not alone in the Moron club. Not by a long shot. The fact that your work is backed up keeps you out of the Really Truly Stupid club, though.

  29. Wow, that royally sucks…again. Glad to hear you won’t lose any work because of it and I hope it’s found/recovered/replaced soon. (and that Krissy doesn’t decide to staple the replacement to you)

  30. Maybe it is possessed and is running away, Or you may need to wear a shirt saying “Ask me if I have my laptop”.

  31. Thanks to Apple’s decision to discontinue the MacBook, I am basically going to be forced to buy a MacAir when the day comes (soon) that I am tired of having my MacBook screen die every. damn. day. But over here, when you add AppleCare, you’re talking like a thousand euros…. So these repeated tales of their penchant for walking away is REALLY giving me pause!

  32. The ‘cute, young, PA’ comment put me in mind of a woman I used to work for. This was a brilliant woman, PhD in molecular biology, biotech executive . She was very much the absent minded professor – great at her job, not so much at the keeping track of things. She regularly lost things – cell phones, laptops, brief case. Once she even left her laptop on the roof of her car as she was leaving for the evening, it fell off and she ran over it. The stories were legendary, and yet – brilliant individual in all other aspects. So perhaps you can spin this as a case where your brain was just too full of other things. The travails of the brilliant mind, or something along those lines?

  33. I’m surprised the MacBooks don’t have a locator program similar to the iPhone. Or even LoJack. Perhaps you could invest in a single handcuff with a chain attached. Very Secret Service.

  34. hmmm. If you are that bound and determined to leave your MacBook Air someplace…. you could leave it with me :)

  35. I had a $1500 watch stolen and when I went to file my insurance claim, I learned it was covered under my homeowner’s policy, which had a deductible equal to 3% of the entire value of my home – which was more than the value of my watch. So even though I was covered with good insurance, it did me no good. I hope you fare better with your insurance! (well, I hope you don’t NEED to file the claim, obviously)

  36. I blame tour brain. On your behalf. Because I’m giving like that.

    I hope the Mac Book turns up safe and sound (and soon)! I’m glad you didn’t lose any work, but the lost computer is very annoying.

  37. I feel for you, Scalzi, really, I do, and I hope you get it back (again), but I’ve got to say that I’m laughing. This is the universe’s revenge for not posting those promised photos for getting 30,000 followers.

  38. If your insurance agent reads your blog, be prepared for an increase in premiums …

  39. My condolences. I’m all too familiar with Travel Brain.. If you find a fairly new Bose Noise Canceling headset in the seat back pocket, yep those were mine..

  40. Mr. Scalzi, there are easier contests you could stage in order to give away more copies of Redshirts.

  41. Catherine Schaffer – I see what you did there. Took the words right out of my fingertips, you did.

  42. My wife does stuff like this all the time. I am “this close” to safety pinning everything she owns to her shirt with a length of yarn

  43. I’ve seen valuable documents delivered by couriers handcuffed to their attaché cases.

    I’ve seen even more critical documents delivered by couriers who have with them a second person, armed, whose job it is to shoot the courier rather than let him be captured by Bad Guys.

    I can imagine you handcuffing yourself to an Air. I cannot see you willingly travel with a personal assassin who says: “Nothing personal sir, but…”

  44. Here’s an idea: you could have yourself “Wedlocked” to your Macbook like that 1991 Rutger Hauer Movie so that if you wander more than 100 yards away from it it and your head blow up. ;)

    Or is that solution using a mallet to smash an ant?

  45. No no, I don’t think this is your fault at all. Clearly you are being followed by a flock of invisible gremlins that magically trick you into leaving your MacBook Air in airports. I also suffer from the attention of these gremlins. Even though I’ve learned to check and re-check my belongings while I’m traveling, the gremlins always trick me into leaving *something* everywhere I go. Bag of shoes and other items in Milwaukee, phone charger in Muskegon, phone charger again in Columbus. They even tried to make me lose my wallet once while I was traveling internationally.

    I really wish I could offer advice on how to banish the gremlins, but I still haven’t figured out how to make them go away myself. At any rate, I have faith that your MacBook Air will return to you again, safe and sound.

  46. I think you have now reached the point where you should simply travel with the cheapest laptop you own, and leave your primary machine at home. I hope it finds its way back to you again!

  47. I now see John Scalzi as the Santa Claus of Cupertino, scattering Macbook Airs and visions of Sugarplum Fairies wherever he may go. In airports, mostly.

  48. I hope your Air is reunited with you (I picture it a bit like the Incredible Journey, wending its way back to you, but with fewer water-based obstacles). And now I am definitely waiting for someone to create a netbook/tablet harness, like those stretchy ones for toddlers…

  49. You know, if it was just a bit heavier like a normal laptop, I bet you wouldn’t forget it places so much. I often forget about air, even though deep down inside I know it’s very important to me.

    I think your Air needs a Siri. I can just hear her now in a deadpan HAL-inspired voice, “Don’t forget me, John.”

  50. Are you sure this isn’t a Macbook Air forged by the Dark Lord Sauron, and that it’s trying to get back to its master? You haven’t noticed your browser mysteriously opening up webcams to Minas Morgul, have you?

  51. This ex-airline supervisor and lost luggage guru shakes his head in frank incredulity at Mr.Scalzi. O_0
    I think you need to take your daughter with you on all trips with the sole mission of keeping track of your laptop. I’m sure SHE’LL love that idea…. ;)

  52. Condolences on the laptop. Perhaps this brief video will distract your from your endless tribulations. I suspect, living with you, Ghlaghghee has similar thoughts of existential angst… (except without the subtitles).

  53. You could take the simple approach. An engraved label on top and bottom that says “If I lost this thing again, return it to “

  54. Dude, you’re killing me.

    Get one of these and weld one end to your laptop and hook the other bit to your BrainPal. (or hook it to your belt or something)

    “NEW ALERT FEATURE causes the transmitter to chirp loudly every time your child wanders beyond 20-30 foot range”

    Next time you walk away, the thing should scream at you to pick it up.


  55. Late coming back to this, but have you considered one of those cloud based automated backup systems? I know several road-warrior types who swear by them. Even if you don’t loose your data or laptop, you might, and it’s been a godsend, especially the automated part.

  56. John: Dang. Sorry that happened. I do like some of the helpful suggestions you have been getting, like the bowling ball lanyard combo attachment, the note pinned to your shirt and the Rutger Hauer wedlock.

    tom: I don’t know about John, but that video made my day. I LOL’d at “Traitor,” and at the very end when he proclaimed his destiny was his…siiiiiiiiiiiiigggggghhhhh….”merde.”

  57. I left $20 cash at the grocery store the other day. Just sitting there in the auto-checkout machine cash-spitting-out slot after I had requested cash back when making a purchase. I went back hours later, after realizing I had never actually PICKED up the cash I requested. But it wasn’t there and hadn’t been turned in. It was gone, gone, gone.

    I felt SO stupid.

    But NOW that feeling is gone! Now I can just think, “Well, at least I’m not the sort of person who loses a MacAir computer–TWICE!” Thanks, John! :)

  58. I once read a book whose author argued that language like “I’m an idiot” undermines your ability to make reasonable evaluations of mistakes and correct them effectively. I have no idea whether it’s true, but I am certainly happier since I started trying to avoid that and think about whether the mistake was actually stupid or merely consistent with other traits (distracted, sleepy, etc.).

    I put it to you that, in particular, it is almost certainly the case that you are not an idiot. And while you may have made a silly mistake, and the language may be a pretty well-understood form of hyperbole and rhetoric, well. Would you talk to other people you know that way over a thing like this?

  59. Oh noooooooo! That majorly sucks. Here’s hoping it makes it home safe and sound again.

    With regards to your link, my sister just got one of the new MacBook Pros and she LOVES it. Her only complaint so far is that it doesn’t have a disk drive, which she hadn’t realized when she ordered it, but if you’ve been using an Air I’m guessing that’s not an issue for you. It’s also definitely heavier than the MacBook Air (at least the ones I’ve handled), which might make it easier to keep track of.

  60. Well, on the other hand, your family, friends, and fans still love you. So you got that going for you. Does suck though.

  61. Wow. That’s pretty, umm, special—though I think this speaks more to the stress (good or otherwise) of the current book tour than to any shortcoming on your part. And, rest assured, we’ve all been candidates for that “Biggest Idiot” title at one time or another.

  62. Since you’ve already said to stop suggesting handcuffing the thing to yourself, when/if you get it back you should attach a shipping label to it. On that label write your address and a promise of a cash reward and/or an ARC of your next book to the person that returns it to you.

    Or just etch said information onto the case if you have a steady hand and the necessary tools; that way you don’t have to worry about the label being removed or falling off.

  63. The Brave Little MacBook, scratched and tarnished from its accidental sojourn, had a happy smile on its virtual FaceTime as it spied the five rolling acres of home.

  64. Okay, my idea is along the lines of Gregg Bender’s. Only expanded. John, you have quite a following. No, really, you have quite a large following. I say use that to your advantage. I suggest that you create your own IMF (Impossible Mission Force). You know how at the beginning of each episode, Mr. Phelps goes through the folder looking for juuuust the right person? You could do the same thing. The “right person” in this case would be someone closest to whatever airport you will be landing at. They meet you as you get off the plane and the first thing they do is take responsibility for your stuff. “Hi, Mr. Scalzi. Yes, let me carry that for you so you don’t leave it somewhere.”
    How many different airports do you travel through? A dozen? Two dozen? Figure you’ll get 10 or so resumes from people in the area. Figure you’ll have 100 – 150 resumes to weed through. Heck, turn it over to Athena to weed out most of them. Then you make the final selection. You can pick and choose whomever you deem fit for the role. And the person who is selected will get the thrill of meeting the kick-ass SF writer of our time and you, in turn, won’t have to worry about leaving your stuff somewhere.
    Just a thought.

  65. That sucks, but I do admire your ability to admit such a mistake in public.

    In the same vein, I twice in the space of a month (and never before or after(knock on wood)) paid for gas and then drove off without pumping it. In my own defense, I don’t use cards–because it makes me think more about spending money to pay with cash–and this was shortly after the last of the gas stations in town had started making you pre-pay for fuel.

  66. Back in the old days, if you left something on a plane (usually hats or jackets in my case), you could run back through the airport, go to the gate, and ask them if they’d found it or could go look for it. These days, when you get outside and notice that your head is cold and realize why, it’s too late, because you’re outside Security.

    If your problem is leaving the Macbook itself, as opposed to the whole bag, you could get one of those security cables and attach them together, so that when you get out out of the seat without it, you’ll trip over the cable.

  67. My apologies for not reading the thread up until this point, but I have a deadline, and yet I feel the need to make a comment:

    The next time you’re in the greater Washington DC area, I would like to make you an offer. I have a luxury SUV with power everything and leather everything else, and I would be more than happy to drive you wherever you need to go.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking: why would I, a successful professional with shit to do, be willing to spend precious vacation days driving around some schmo I’ve never met?

    It’s simple, really. The odds suggest that it’s only a matter of time before I get a free MacBook Air out of the deal.

  68. Good luck. Yesterday I had the day from, well, not exactly hell, but distinctly on the way: I dropped my Air (it survived), forgot to save a file under a new name prior to dramatic editing, and left my wallet in a shop (apparently gone forever). I’ve ommited the minor things.

    Worst ever lap top abandonment was when we walked off with the wrong rucksack from a reception, losing my Air, my wallet and my passport. Luckily we had someone’s PhD thesis (not yet submitted) and a bottle of champagne so there was anxiety for contact on both sides.

    Good luck.

  69. @ Jon Marcus and @ Warren Terra: The Siri joke in the commercial continues, as follows: “two iPhones walk into a bar.. ‘Oh, Siri’ was playing on the jukebox… ;-) @ Jon Marcus: A brainpal would be useful in SO MANY ways!

    @ John Scalzi: I was about to suggest having an RFID chip implanted within the case of your Macbook Air, like many people do with surgically implanting such chips subcutaneously in their cats and dogs… that is, I was gonna suggest it until I realized that is probably exactly what your findmyiphone app is already using when it searches for your Macbook.

  70. For some reason, I’m reminded of the post where you mentioned the inscription on your wedding ring. I assume you still have that?

  71. You need a backpack. Seriously. I may look like a total geek in the airport, but I’ve never left my computer anywhere.

  72. [Immediately knocks on wood nightstand to mitigate the jinx I just put on myself.]

  73. They have bluetooth enabled rings that vibrate when your phone rings. It seems like it would be easy enough to have a ring that vibrates when the bluetooth connection drops, like when you get 20 feet away from the laptop. That could be a way to keep from losing another piece of expensive hardware.

    Wait, I almost forgot. You also have a habit of losing rings, don’t you John? I don’t know of a bluetooth enabled tattoo on the market.

  74. I won’t hold you to your promise to never do it again, I won’t point at you on the street and laugh, I won’t use your name in the following, “Dumb? Man he’s dumber than …” But only, only, because it feels so good to finally, finally, know of someone who makes my sort of mistakes!

  75. Sounds like it’s time to get a set of those handcuff lanyards like the secure messengers use and tie that thing to your wrist for the duration of every trip.

  76. I’m beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, Information really does Want To Be Free. Clearly your MacBook Air yearns to be one with the digital cloud.

    If only Apple had chosen the name “MacBook GumOnMyAirSole” for their fine product, you wouldn’t have this problem, would you?

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