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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: Office Shrew versus Shrewd Manager
By Judy Doyle


Her brows knit into a scowl, fire was in her eyes. Helen was never an easy person to deal with. Her short fuse was known company wide.

“How dare you?! This project consumed every minute of my day for more than a month. And now you’ve scrapped the project. I don’t understand. Do you realize you have wasted my time and energy?” She bitterly spit out each word.

Her mild mannered supervisor, John Taylor, allowed her to spew her anger for another few minutes. Then he abruptly turned on his heels and returned to his office. He closed his door. He’d heard of Helen Haridan’s volatility but had never seen it.

“Whew! That went well.” He thought sarcastically. John quietly sat at his desk with his hands pressed together resting on the bridge of his nose. Reliving his encounter with the office shrew, he wondered if he could have handled it differently. He concluded he’d dealt with it correctly. John slowly swivelled his chair around to work at the computer. His gut told him to document everything. He wrote, “Today, January 15, I told Helen her project had been rejected by management. She was furious.” He paused briefly and continued his report. John completed the account, “Although the words are not inflammatory, it was the manner in which she said them. Absolutely no respect.”

There was a knock at his door. John quickly saved the document and closed it.

“Yes?” He answered.

“May I come in?” It was his secretary, Ms. Adams. She’d heard the entire encounter. “That’s why I suggested you use my office to talk with Helen.”

He nodded. She continued, “I’ve seen her yell at others. Since it was in my office, I knew you could go to your office. Once you closed the door, she’d know the so-called conversation was over. I’m sorry you had to experience her fury so soon.” Taylor had only been in the department for three weeks.

“Thanks for your consideration.” He responded.

“Document, document, document.” She tersely added. It was the best advice she could give him.

“Thanks!” He countered.

Ms. Adams closed the door. John returned to his document. He inserted, “I suggest anger management.” Then he highlighted the entire document, with the mouse he clicked the copy icon. John opened his email account. In the body of the email he pasted his report and sent it to his supervisors.

It didn’t take long for John to receive directions from his boss. He opened his e-mail and read “Inform her of company’s decision for her to attend anger management classes. She must not miss a class and attitude must improve within six months.” It was the right decision, but he dreaded his next encounter with the ill-tempered woman. However, he knew it was necessary.

Helen approached Taylor’s office with an unfounded confidence. His door was open and she paused briefly at the door. She cleared her voice. John looked up. Sounding more confident that he felt, he said, “Ms. Haridan, please have a seat.”

“Thank you.” She replied curtly.

He sat quietly, looking over a file on his desk. He looked up, lips pressed firmly together. He pressed his forefingers together at his mouth. “Ms. Haridan,” he began. “Your file indicates you have an issue with authority and difficulty controlling your anger.”

Helen’s face began to redden with anger. “I do . . .” She retorted.

John raised his hand. “Please. Don’t interrupt. This decision comes from upper management, but it was made at my suggestion. If you are to continue working here, you are to attend anger management classes and . . .”

She didn’t wait to hear the rest. She stood and announced, “Well, I never!” She started toward the door. Abruptly she stopped, looked down at her feet for several seconds. Finally, she turned to her boss, “Mr. Taylor, I’ve known for a long time I needed help, but was too proud to admit it.” He thought he saw a tear in her eye. She continued, “I’m glad you did. I was ready to quit. Thanks for the reprimand and the order to get counseling. I’ll not disappoint you.” As she said it, there was a hint of humility.

From that day on there was a marked difference in Helen’s attitude. She smiled more. There were days with slip-ups, but Helen’s work improved. Occasionally, John even heard her laugh. No longer was she known as the office shrew.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/21/08
Wow, she's definitely someone that I'd avoid.

Take a look at your capitalization and punctuation of dialogue. For example:

“Document, document, document.” She tersely added. should be “Document, document, document,” she tersely added. Note the comma and the lower case "s".

Great play on words in the title!
Laury Hubrich 02/21/08
Very good title. I got a little bit confused at this paragraph:
He nodded. She continued, “I’ve seen her yell at others. Since it was in my office, I knew you could go to your office. Once you closed the door, she’d know the so-called conversation was over. I’m sorry you had to experience her fury so soon.” Taylor had only been in the department for three weeks.

Not sure what you were trying to say. Sorry, it is probably just me. This has a very good message to it. Keep on writing.
Marlene Austin02/21/08
Dialogue realistic. Thank goodness your MC responded as he did or they might both have ended up in Anger Management. :)
Llewelyn Stevenson02/21/08
Some could say, "Been there, done... well, maybe not." Perhaps a few noses have already been cut off, hmmm?