Who’s Your Tyrant?

Elena Tucker
4 min readJan 11, 2024
Photo by Laura Lugaresi on Unsplash

All my life I’ve hated tyrants, but now, nearing my sixth decade, I am beginning to think that perhaps I have been jumping to conclusions a bit too fast. Like, people say “bully,” and immediately I hate that person, but that’s not quite the correct example. But say “tyrant,” and you can’t even say the word without saying the word “rant” at the same time. What if, say, accidentally, one became a tyrant, like got caught up in a movement, or elected yourself in a small backwater country, and you just didn’t know any better? Like in the Kipling story, the Man Who Would Be King, only this would be The Woman Who Would Be Tyrant.

I would be, I believe, be an excellent ruler, or “tyrant.” I would be beloved by the people, because I would never presume to tell them what to do. For the most part, I would leave them alone. Of course, we would have laws — without laws there would be anarchy — but my laws would be just and not unreasonable. For example, if you steal a car and get caught, your left pinky would be amputated. You would be clearly warned that if you are caught stealing anything again, your right pinky would be amputated, and so on, until you run out of fingers. But the punishment would be commensurate. If you steal a candy bar, you just get your fingernails trimmed … but down to the quick … with dull clippers. Now, if you are smart, eventually, you would stop stealing. Otherwise, pretty soon everyone would know that you are a very unsuccessful thief or a chef who was not properly trained in knife safety.

I wouldn’t tax the populace too heavily. As a matter of fact, I would tax so lightly, everyone would want to come to my country. This would be a problem, because it is a very small country, so I would build a high wall around it, and make a strict immigration policy. If you want to leave, please, by all means, you’re allowed to leave. But to come in, you’ve to recite the lines from several scenes in the 1984 comedy classic, Top Secret, then take a fiendishly difficult test of 100 questions, mostly math story problems involving trains traveling at different speeds, with a few literature questions thrown in, you know, to keep it classy. You must have a 90 percent or above passing grade in order to receive a 5-year visa. This test would discourage most criminals from entering my country, since everyone knows that it’s mostly criminals who are lousy with math and only…

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Elena Tucker

Writer and storyteller, immigrant, wife, mom, knitter, collector of jokes, lover of cheap, sweet wine.