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A small person with a little power


I had to visit a government office for an interview. The office consisted of a short hallway with several chairs lined up, facing a counter. Behind the counter were three women in uniform, representing various governmental agencies. All of the interviewees were male, and all of the interviewers were female. All the women wore guns. It was rather odd. Everyone was talking, conducting their business. It was like a very small, dirty bank lobby, with heavily-armed tellers.

One of the female interviewers wanted to know what was in my bag.

“Computers,” I said.

She wanted to know why I had brought them into the office.

“Because they are not mine,” I said, “and they are expensive, so I cannot leave them in the car.” (I suppose I insulted her, implying that I did not feel safe in her city or in her office, surrounded by heavily-armed agents in flak jackets who stomped through the office every few minutes. I didn’t feel safe, and I didn’t mind if she knew it.)

“Whose computers are they?” she asked.

“My employers’,” I said.

“Why do you have two computers?” she asked.

“One is my employer’s, and one is my client’s,” I said.

I must have been looking at her like she was stupid, because she got snippy. “I have to know why you have two computers,” she grated. The threat was clear – I had to tell her what she wanted to know, and spend as much time as she wanted me to spend doing it, or else she was going to make things difficult for me.

“Because my client will not let me put my employer’s computer on their network, so my client had to issue me their own computer.”

At that, her eyes glazed over. Buffer overload, presumably. She dropped the twenty questions routine and went on to something else.

I was still annoyed. But then I thought of something that made me smile a genuine,  happy smile. If everything went right, I would get to leave that nasty little office in fifteen minutes. She would have to stay there. Forever.

Her mood lightened at my smile. That made me smile even more. By the time I left, fifteen minutes later, she was smiling too.

If she had been telepathic, I doubt she would have been smiling. And I probably would still be there.

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