On a Short Leash / Mickey Mouse


I'm Susan Clark with the Special English program Words and Their Stories.

Susan Cleveland is the young president of a candy company in the City of Chicago. Her father began the company in the nineteen sixties. He died three years ago. Now the company belongs to Susan. Many of her father's employees were concerned when Susan to control. Susan's father had worked many years for other candy companies before starting this one. He had known a great deal about business. Susan however did not have any jobs before becoming head of the company. She just finished college.

The employees became even more concerned during Susan's first month on the job. Mr. Cleveland had been a strong leader, but Susan permitted many employees to make their own decisions.

One employee said, old Mr. Cleveland always told her what to do. He kept people on a short leash, but the company did well.

What does a shot leash mean?

A leash is a kind of rope. We use a leash to work our pet dogs, The leash keeps dog from running away or getting into trouble. Keeping a person in a short leash means keeping him or her under close control. The person can not make many decisions for himself or herself.

Word expert James Rogers found a similar saying used more than four hundred years ago. In fifteen sixties, writer Thomas Dickens said in a religious book. "For God have them in leash, yeah, they are his slaves".

Miss Cleveland does not keep her workers on a short leash. Instead, She urges them to create better ways to business. For example, her secretary proposed an idea. She said the company should give a prize to the best student in a high school near the factory. The winner could use the prize money to study at university.

Miss Cleveland approved the idea. After the prize was announced, people who lived in the area of factory began to buy more of the company's candy. Local newspaper wrote about the competition.

Business Improved.

Miss Cleveland made her secretary the company's first director of public relations. The former secretary was very pleased. She said "My old job had become Mickey Mouse, Now I have much more creative one."

Mickey Mouse, of course is Walt Disney's famous animal drawn from movies, television and comic picture books. But what does a mouse have to do with a job.

In modern speech, anything that is Mickey Mouse is unimportant. Many word experts say the new meaning came from United States Navy. The Navy had a special school for new sailors who did not cooperate. It was called M-I-C, short for Military Indoctrination Center. Sailors began to say that rules, which did not seem important, work MIC. Over time, MIC became a Mickey Mouse, something that lacks meaning.

This Words and Their Stories was written by Jerilyn Watson, I'm Susan Clark.