February 3, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that explores the question, “What good is power?” Is it a story of empowerment, or a story of a dictator? Poke around power and go where the force takes you this week.
Charli over at the Ranch, is worried about power. Its use and misuse. I once had what was oft times called a ‘powerful’ job, certainly within my own business which was never my perception from where I sat. I may have worn a splendid bejewelled hat with ‘Global Practice Group Leader’ stuck on it with bling and blu tack but that didn’t give me any power.
Not in the way they meant. They thought I could snap my fingers and others would do my bidding. I thought if I snapped my fingers I’d only accelerate the arthritis I was genetically predisposed to acquire. All I saw was responsibility, challenging colleagues who had as many agendas as there are minutes in a millennium, each a cat not willing to be herded.
I got to sit in meetings in Tyrollean castles and Andalusian palaces and eat over ripe and undercooked concoctions masquerading as cuisine. I flexed plastic and furrowed my brow on behalf of the firm and wondered if I’d ever be comfortable wearing a tie. I set agendas that were ignored and felt as much joy chairing the subsequent meetings as the chair felt taking my increasing weight.
We did well as a business. We set and met targets. I did well in all the ways I was expected to. I was given stars in legal directories, in ways I craved at school and never achieved (as an aside, one of these directories, scrabbling around for a quote from a competitor to describe my unique legal talents, managed to come up with ‘decent’. Did they mean I was ok at the job, honourable under pressure or I ensured my flies were firmly up during meetings? I never found out). But of the assumed power I didn’t see much. And actually I was quite grateful. I wouldn’t have handled it well.
And perhaps that’s how power should be. It should enable you to influence and not control. To suggest and not to dictate. It’s when power is assumed, taken for granted, left unchallenged that it becomes dangerous, I think.
With great power comes great responsibility
Was that one of Jonny Voltaire’s bon mots? For me it always seemed like it was just responsibility and bloody exhausting. I was glad when I handed on the baton.
I’d have like to have kept the hat, though.
This week, Mary North and her daughter Penny both suffer at the hands of the all powerful and express their frustrations in their own particular ways…
Powerful bureaucracies across the generations
‘Mum, why can’t I go. It’s not fair.’
‘Mr Johnson, why can’t we have seats outside? It’s not fair.’
‘Penny, I understand but it’s just the way it is.’
‘Mrs North I understand, but those are the rules.’
‘But Joey’s mum spoke to school and they agreed…’
‘But the cafe next door has permission…’
‘The school rules are clear…’
‘The highway regulations state…’
‘Mummmm. Why can Joey go and I can’t?’
‘What did they do to be favoured…?’
‘Sometimes that’s just the way it is, Penny.’
‘I hope you’re not suggesting impropriety…’
‘I hate you!’
‘If the cap fits…’
If you want to follow Mary’s story, click here…