Oil and water #carrotranch #flashfiction

Charli’s prompt this week is

April 27, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes oil. It can be an oil refinery, the raw product or used as a commodity. How does oil fit into a plot or a genre? Go where the prompt leads.

My dad worked in the oil related industries; he sold oil byproducts like brake fluid and preservatives that the company he worked for sold. For a time he enjoyed the job, jet-setting to Antwerp to get slewed on schnapps and being dined and dining clients. But eventually he hated it, the petty rules and management guff that all big business use as combined analgesics and prophylactics to suppress, contain and anaesthetise staff.

Mind you he did get me the best paid holiday job ever, working on the warehouse where we packed, and filled drums with chemicals before dispatching them.

Stinking, smelly the Hythe Chemical plant originally part of Union Carbide chemicals and latterly BP; can’t say dad didn’t choose well, can you!!

It was eye opening for me, a somewhat naive 20 year old, to work in a unionised workforce that stuck rigidly to a script yet did it’s best to be as subversive as possible. And to work with people who though of dad as a Tory lackey and toff was quite educational too.

I should have driven a forklift truck but while training I lost control and very nearly decapitated the foreman. Alan Meares never really trusted me after that but the rest of the workforce were impressed. Partly by my incompetence and partly by the power my father mus have had to keep me employed.

They sort of got their own back when they gave me a 5 litres can and told me to ‘give it to mum’. I strapped it on the back of my moped as we were clocking off only to be stopped and forced to ditched the box which had held my sandwiches and squeeze it into my backpack. ‘Just drive through security,’ they said and don’t slow down.

‘What is it?’

‘Pressie for mum. Off you go, sonny.’

I knew it was dodgy but I wanted the money so took it home. I told mum who opeend it, smelt it, rubbed it between her fingers and smiled. ‘Lovely. Say thank you, will you?’

‘What is it mum?’

‘My guess is they’ve made fairy liquid concentrate. Your father told me a while ago the plant had the order to make the basic ingredients. They use a nice scent too. Oil of wintergreen I think.’ She stopped and then added. ‘Don’t tell your father.’

I didn’t. Not for a while. Not until after the company had it’s Christmas party. Not until dad came back and asked what John (he was the guy I worked with on the warehouse floor) meant by did dad have soft hands?

Dad was partly horrified – I was planning in becoming a lawyer so knocking off bootleg washing up liquid had  to against some rule, didn’t it; and partly anxious because it gave the ‘boys’ or to use the term by which they called themselves ‘the bollockies’ leverage. If it did then they didn’t use it so far as I know.

As for the washing up liquid. I think mum was still eking it out ten years later….

Mary and Penny have a different perspective this week..

Oil and Water

‘Mum, I want to volunteer to help the environment.’

‘What prompted this? Not that I’m against it.’

‘We watched Deep Water Horizon in Geography. The oil industry is awful. We need to have renewables and non-pollutive power.’

‘Are you going to protest?’

“Protest? Like online?’

‘No. A march, a sit-in? That’s what we did. To make people sit up.’

Penny picked up her sandwich. ‘What did you protest about?’

‘Stopping Cruise missiles. The miners. You grandpa hated it.’

‘What happened?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Did it make a difference?’

‘Not really.’

‘I think I want to do something useful.’

If you want to read more of Mary and Penny then click here

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. 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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12 Responses to Oil and water #carrotranch #flashfiction

  1. JT Twissel says:

    Sounds like being a lawyer was safer for you than becoming a forklift operator!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooooh Geoff, you CRIMMMM! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Charli Mills says:

    What insights to petroleum products and work culture. I never really thought of soap, and funny that your mom made it last. As for mom-wisdom, Mary understands her daughter. The protest is for starting something, but action needs to follow. I liked the play on words between “sit-in” and “sit up.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Yes. I wondered where my protesting got me beyond feeling good.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        After the Women’s Marches in the US, the organizers rallied all who had gathered to take the next steps locally. Local chapters grew. The town hall meetings taking elected officials to task is one result and that does impact these politically motivated elected officials, especially those facing reelection in 2018. Best, they’ve dispatched educators to go to the local chapters to teach women how to run for office.

        But to protest and do nothing afterwards is to spit in the wind. You must have action.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        It is that follow up. My protest that felt like heat was
        Against the Iraq invasion much good it did, having a quisling parliament.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Oil Slicks « Carrot Ranch Communications

  5. Norah says:

    Interesting tidbit about your family and your dodgy past, Geoff. That experience probably added to your skills as a lawyer. I like this exchange between Penny and Mary and appreciate that she wants to do something useful. Sometimes protesting gets results, but not always. I think we can thank protesters for many of the “rights” we now enjoy.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. floridaborne says:

    So true about protesting.

    Liked by 2 people

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