Nancy Roman

Not Quite Instant Karma

Today’s hashtag game on Twitter is #ButSomeoneElseTookCredit.  A hashtag game, for those of you who don’t know Twitter  – (and you are very wise, by the way, it’s awful – it’s very mean … and very addicting) – is an informal contest where everyone tweets on the same subject and you try to be cleverer than all the other tweeters. Actually, all of Twitter is a contest where you try to be cleverer than everybody else. And if you can’t be clever, you can be terribly, horribly, threateningly mean, and Twitter just lets you. I suppose it’s therapeutic to vent in such an ugly way, but being on the receiving end has given me a few sleepless nights. I would like to see Twitter Version 2.0, where you try to be kinder and sweeter than the next guy.

Anyway, today’s hashtag “But Someone Else Took Credit” reminded me of a post I wrote more than five years ago.

Too many words for a tweet, but it’s worth re-visiting. (Worth it to me, that is… repurposing is a nice lazy way to write….)

So here it is:



When I was eleven, I stole an idea.

It was 1962, and I was hospitalized briefly for a minor problem. Not being really sick, I was very happy to be in the hospital, where I could get all kinds of attention and sympathy. I was enjoying myself tremendously.

The girl in the next bed had broken her leg. She was also not seriously ill, and like me, was having a very good time.

As we were competing for the nurses’ attention (which they smartly refused to give us), we started to compete in general. Who had better grades, prettier clothes, worse brothers and sisters.

Connie (not her fictitious name) told me that she was a wonderful writer.

“So am I,” I said immediately.

So she told me about a story she wrote for school, and for which she had received an “A+”.  She wrote about keeping an elephant for a pet–how much it ate, and how much room it took in the house, and the effect on the neighbors.

I pronounced that story as very silly.

I was discharged the next day.

Back at school, however, when it was time to write our monthly composition, I wrote the same story. I had an elephant for a pet. I kept it on the porch, and walked it around the block, and shocked the neighbors.

You may think that, at eleven, I didn’t really understand that this was wrong.  But I knew. I knew it was cheating to copy someone’s paper, and I knew it was cheating to copy someone’s idea. When the teacher was delighted with my story, I was ashamed.

Sometimes Karma is patient.

A few years later… (forty years to be exact):

It was 2002. I was still working in television at the time. I had a lot of good years at my job, but 2002 was not one of them. So I was job-hunting.

I had an interview at Court TV.  You may be of the opinion that Court TV would not have been classy enough for the likes of me.  But let me assure you that I can be as lowbrow as it takes.  Television pays well, and some of the most lowbrow networks pay very well indeed. (Of course, Court TV has now become truTV, home of “World’s Dumbest”, so maybe now it might challenge my sense of sophistication slightly.)

Anyway, the executive who was interviewing me asked me about my creativity. They didn’t want a financial executive to be just a numbers person.  They expected all of top management to contribute creative ideas.  So he asked me if I had any.

And I did.  I gave that guy two suggestions that I thought could be moneymakers for Court TV. One was, I thought, a great idea, and one was only passable.  My lesser proposal was a show starring forensic scientist Henry Lee.  Dr. Lee was the head of forensics for the State of Connecticut, where I live, and he had become quite a celebrity for his participation in the OJ Simpson trial, among others.

The rest of the interview was pleasant, but I didn’t get the job.

About eighteen months later, as I am channel surfing, I come upon Court TV and a show called “Trace Evidence: The Case Files of Dr. Henry Lee”.

Imagine my surprise.  This show was the idea I offered to a Court TV executive in order to obtain a job that I didn’t get.  The Idea got the job, I guess. I wondered if that executive got a nice bonus (that maybe should have gone to me).

But I didn’t sue.  I didn’t even call the sneaky dude to protest or demand my cut. I knew it was my karma for stealing Connie’s idea forty years earlier.

And besides, the show was a flop. They made only seven episodes that I don’t even think registered a blip in the ratings. So maybe the sneaky dude got fired.  I like to think so.

As for my other idea… I still think I have a winner there.  And I’ve atoned for my childhood idea-theft. So this one is all mine.

So excuse me, Mark Burnett, but ‘Survivor’ is getting pretty old.  So if you are out there trolling the blogs of middle-aged women:  Call Me.  We’ll do lunch.



Me on Survivor.  Re-purposed from a different old post. When you’re feeling lazy, you do stuff like this.


  1. I’m still trying to get the hang of Twitter. I’m horrible at quick witty comebacks, so it’s going to be a slog for me.

    However, don’t distract Mark Burrnett too much from Survivor… I’m still hoping to get on the show with my dad! (once we sell them on the super fit 70yo father’s carrying their 44yo children theme)


  2. An eleven-year-old I can overlook. The executive not so much. 😦
    I tweet but have no idea what I’m doing or why people tweet back sometimes and other times, I’ve dead air. So time-consuming keeping up with all the social media. o_O


  3. I have a Twitter account and follow a couple of people. But have never, ever tweeted. And from your description of it, I don’t think I’m missing a thing.
    Maybe Karma got you, but it sounds like it got that executive in a much worse way than it did you!


    • He probably did not see any Karma. Probably got a raise and a bonus. And then blamed me when the show was no good. Oh well.


  4. I don’t use Twitter. Facebook is more than enough for me. Always love your posts but may an elderly pedantic woman point out the comment on your picture? Your should be you’re


    • Oh, damn! One of my pet peeves and I did it myself. I couldn’t wait to get home and fix it!


  5. I don’t bother with twitter much, I just don’t usually have the time for it yeah does sound like you git nipped by Karma but her teeth were not sharp and you will recover


    • Oh, recovered a long time ago… I’ve had 15 years to let it go. But if that show had been a hit….


  6. I entered a Lay’s potato chip slogan contest and didn’t win, but my slogan did. It was used in a Frito’s commercial. Maybe they thought that I wouldn’t check who owned Frito’s, or was too dumb to realize that the company Frito-Lay might be related to both products.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sheesh….Did you complain… did it get resolved? BTW, I once said something in a meeting that became a catchphrase -on the air – for ESPN. Never got credit….

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, I didn’t complain. I didn’t have a copy of my entry. They’re clever that way. Entries go straight to the contest from their website so you don’t have an email trail. They could easily say that it was in the works. And maybe it was. Ha! Anyway, I’d be more pissed if my idea were used as an ESPN catch phrase and I didn’t get credit. But I’m sure you signed something that said anything you developed on work time belonged to them. But a shout-out would have been nice, right?


  7. Ray G

    Just me, but I cannot easily imagine anything else on this planet which I would have lower interest in than twitter. The ONLY glance I have of it is when you show something on this blog, as a side note.


    • I am a news junkie, and often you see breaking stories there. I also think the funny people on Twitter are very funny.


  8. Keep writing regardless


  9. I like your article, very inspiring and thank you for your post


  10. I don’t twitter, tweet, or book – blogging is my little bit of connection to the world. And old fashioned email. You would think though with all the crappy meanness out there that you could get an app (don’t even know if twitter has apps) to filter tweets and rephrase them as uplifting and witty. Could you even filter an abusive tweet like spam but have it reworked and delivered with an “or a better way to say it:…” vibe? Any techies out there that want to run with my idea but cut me in???!! 😀


  11. gobblefunkist

    I strongly and fanatically believe in karma as well – I have had way too many proofs in my own life – both good and bad.
    I did a bad thing when I was young as well (I “borrowed” a friend’s skirt, never to return it, and not because I had forgotten). I have not yet seen the karmic return of that act. It will come, I know.


  12. Dhanashree

    Kamra has it’s own way of keeping us reminded of the wrong things we did long time ago! :p
    But i liked this idea of elephant as a pet 😀 i never heard it before! Maybe I can use it too!


  13. Ha! I wonder if Connie’s story was as good as yours? I used to be a poetry duo, and we both won places on a very prestigious course. Over the weekend of the course, I could tell my poetry partner was getting more and more unhappy. Later, I wrote a poem called Risen: which was very well received. Later still, and completely out of the blue, she whacked me around the head for stealing her idea. I remember seeing my glasses fly off into the road. “What was that for?” I asked, incredulous. “For stealing my idea!” she said. I did not know what she was talking about, except maybe we’d chatted once about security guards – the subject of my poem Risen. But it had just been a conversation, something in passing. We never wrote together again. It also took years for her to really properly speak to me again. I maintain I was innocent but she never saw it that way. In terms of karma, she never quite reached the heights she wanted to. And I, relatively speaking, did all that I wanted to. Ideas are not copyrighted – and yours and Connie’s stories would have been different..


    • I think there is a difference between being inspired by an idea, and stealing that idea. Being inspired by a conversation, which you were, is an amazing thing… and we are blessed when we have that inspiration. In my case, as a little kid, I certainly stole the idea. But I have not done it since – and it was more than 50 years ago.
      But when I first started blogging, I was part of a group that shared stories on a shared website. After one story I posted, several other writers were inspired to write on a similar theme – and that felt really good. But one of those writers plagiarized my work to a great extent and called it her own. That felt terrible. I was so upset, I quit the group.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Plagiarism is unforgivable – especially as an adult and especially if you are a writer… it’s theft as far as I’m concerned. Even though you ‘stole’ the idea, your story was not copied. There’s nuance to it, but it’s what kids do…


  14. Roxanne

    Nancy, it seems most of the people commenting here don’t use Twitter. Neither do I. Is there a correlation perhaps–a trait characteristic of your general audience? (I think that’s a good thing.) Also, I tend to believe that people who believe in Karma are good people, because they have a conscience, a moral compass. I’m tempted to make a political statement here, but well, I won’t. Best wishes!


    • You may have a point. I think people who prefer blogs may like a little more depth than 140 characters. The upside of writing a complete thought in 140 characters is that it is good practice for a writer.


  15. I loathe twitter and all the other antisocial media that’s dumbing us down.


    • It can be awful – as well as very addicting. It is good discipline though for a writer. Can I wrote a succinct complete idea in one sentence?


  16. Twitter is my favourite. I can check in, find out if anything interesting is going on, participate and be on my way in minutes. Facebook sucks the life out of me. You made me miss my life as TV Producer. In all fairness, I always miss it. The idea stealing is like breathing in that atmosphere. You get used to it. Or immune. Not sure which.


    • I loved working in television for a long time. But when I had had enough, I really had enough! Once in a great while I miss being on the inside, if you know what I mean… it’s kind of a cool club. But mostly, I don’t care.


  17. The twitter part got me to read too. I don’t get it but I have account. Your story was very entertaining. Keep writing

    Liked by 1 person

  18. What did Mark Burnett do? I like his ideas but would like to know when he trolled on the middle aged women so I can know his other side.


    • For some reason, he never called. I was sure he was a regular reader of my blog….


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