Power To Add

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

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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28 Responses to Power To Add

  1. gordon759 says:

    I like the prompt of Power, I will do something with it in my alternative way.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. No snapping of fingers. We don’t want to bring on that arthritis. (Did you get to keep the hat? Sounds snazzy…)
    Nice flash! Love the set-up and parallel frustrations and resulting dig.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s so lovely to leave those positions isn’t it!! Pity about the hat though………. Clever story, took me three times as long to read though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Allie P. says:

    I stood and stared at the fridge’s interior out of habit more than anything else. The cavity behind its door mirrored the contents of my stomach. For once, I was grateful for the lack of illumination in the room. What good is power when there is nothing left to eat.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. In all my corporate experience, the best leaders were the ones that chose their words carefully: suggesting and influencing as opposed to dictating. Here’s another angle on power: the power of words. That’s for another day. I loved the flash – the parallel conversations pulling at the characters.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Lisa Reiter says:

    “That’s just the way it is..” That all too often neutralises a thought, a protest. The power of a phrase to have many doubting themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

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  8. roweeee says:

    Geoff, loved your post. We watched a doco about he Duke of Argyle who is the head of the Campbell Clan (I am a proud descendant). He and his wife take a very hands on approach to the Estate and both can be spotted in the shop. It was very interesting because he epitomised the responsibility you mentioned.
    In terms of the abuse of power, Miss and I went to see Matilda on Sunday and the awful parents and Headmistress personify the abuse of power. Here’s my post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/matilda-the-musical-if-youre-little-you-can-do-a-lot/
    Miss, by the way, would make a brilliant Matilda but would need to pump up the volume a bit
    Hope you are having a great week!
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      You know what? Mention of the Duke of Argyle brings back my mothers mum, my gran. She had awful arthritis and couldn’t move her shoulders as much as she would like. So when she had any sort of itch she’d find and edge – a door frame, a chair, a cupboard – rub against it and say ‘God bless the Duke of Argyle’. I always wondered why. Mum explained one day http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1955/10/08/department-of-amplification-72.so thanks for that.
      Glad you enjoyed Matilda. And Miss did too. Always a bonus! Sunny here after storms 100mph winds and lashing rain on Sunday.

      Liked by 1 person

      • roweeee says:

        Thanks for putting me onto the scratching post reference. Quite funny how some of these things take off.
        That storm sounds nasty. We’ve had a few over the last few months. Quite scary and more trees also get swept away down at our poor beach which is still struggling despite sandbagging.
        By the way, I have been reminded of an occupational hazard eating while blogging…dog sticking his chin on the keyboard and learning to type! That dog is getting too smart for my own good. What better sure fire way to get my attention and give him that last bit of crust from my toast!
        Hope you’re having a great day!
        xx Ro


      • TanGental says:

        The cats stand on the keyboard here. Sadly their stories are better than mine

        Liked by 1 person

      • roweeee says:

        Speaking of stories, I have a cleaner who comes here once a week…”domestic assistance”. She works for an agency and has clients all over our area and unlike regular cleaners, cleans etc while the people are home and talks. Every week, she fills me in an generations of a few local families and if you were looking at the spread of information in the same light as the spread of a virus, she’s very effective. All these cleaners are. Thought this type of person could be good for some of your fiction.
        The other thing that crossed my path was that I was waiting for my daughter at dancing when the girls for the next class were arriving. Some of these girls were in my son’s class at high school and started chatting about school. Nothing too saucy or exciting except one of them wasn’t pleased to be sitting next to my friend’s son. Felt a touch of relief that it wasn’t my son they were talking about. That said, I had a call yesterday from his form teacher about disorganisation. I had expected the organisation to fall off the wagon and had clearly named everything. However, they don’t have lockers so instead of the books being spread around the school, they were scattered around his room at home. I have now drawn up a nightly packing list for the following day’s subjects. This is also going to be colour-coded…along with his books. I am going to appear very anal but I’m sure this will, at best, just bring him in line with the others.
        Thank goodness I can write or perhaps it’s the creativity that is behind our organisational chaos?
        Hope you’re having a good week. I am quite off-colour. Going to shoot off for a blood test. The doctor will probably say I have a virus but I can never be sure xx Ro

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Yes there are groups who provide priceless stories. Tea ladies when we had them back the 80s. And I recognise male chaos. We had one of those. Partly explained by late diagnosed dyslexia in his case. Take care. Hope the blood test is boringly routine.


  9. jan says:

    Having had my share of “concoctions masquerading as cuisine” while power brokers jostled – I really enjoyed your essay! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Charli Mills says:

    I like that idea about influence rather than control. Funny how some assume others have power by their position. Great dialog technique in your flash, the tug of tensions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks. Yes odd. A burden I didn’t need. Maybe I protest too much though

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        I once read if we all put our burdens in a circle and were then asked to select the ones we could handle, we’d pick our own. It indicates we never know the burdens of another and assuming someone is powerful or has it easy might make their situation even more difficult.

        Liked by 1 person

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  12. Norah says:

    Interesting post, Geoff. I particularly like these words of yours: “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.” Very true.
    Interesting technique in your flash too with just the dialogue. I know another who loves that style! Well done. We all have our own set of frustrating rules to battle. Power to each!

    Liked by 1 person

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