Measures of Importance - writercize #113

How do you tell if a person is important?  

I like to believe that there is equality in the worth and value of all people, but I also am realistic enough to see that it is not the general perception.  Money, status and power can boost a person's "importance" (generally relates directly to influence) in society.

One friend of mine from college would say that in New York City, you could instantly pick out who was important during their weekend walk through Central Park by what they wore.  His take was the reverse of what one might imagine.  The more powerful politicians and bankers were dressed down in sweats and old t-shirts, looking relaxed and comfortable, while the entry-level politicians and bankers would dress in a suit and tie, always ready to impress whoever they may run into.  I can't say if this is true, but the comment has stuck with me for more than ten years.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, importance was indicated by a person's age.  Adam and Noah were both over 900 years old at the time of death, Abraham was nearing 200 years and Moses was well past the 100 year old mark.  There are literalists who believe that is the actual age that these people grew to be, but the more commonly accepted notion is that the numbers were indicative of importance in the stories.  Here's one Bible Geek's (self-named; I did not give the nickname) take on the question: "Why are people so old in the Old Testament?"

You may choose to use age, shoes, clothing brands, where a person shops, how they eat, if they have servants, what car they drive, their title at work, height, how others refer to them (John or Mr. Matthews or dude or sir?), IQ or a myriad of other means to tell your reader how important your characters are without spelling it out.

writercize:  Choose a way to measure the importance of a person.  To illustrate, compare two characters in a very short scene.

Click "read more" to see writercizer sample response about shoes.
writercizer sample response: 

Martina followed Mr. Jacobson through the door and they sat down opposite one another.  Martina noticed her reflection in Mr. Jacobson's Ferragamos and suddenly the decision to wear Birkenstocks that morning felt very ill-advised.


  1. Omigosh, my brain is fried! But I love your post. Good stuff. Let's see, how about this:

    Byron dashed over to Mr. Firmin's side at the snap of his fingers. "Yes, sir?"
    "Why is this rodent on my sidewalk?"
    A putrid belch exploded from a grunge-caked woman, reclining against the brick wall.
    "I don't know, sir."
    "Call a patrol to dispense of this riff-raff."
    "Right away, sir."
    "And have security fire whoever's on duty."
    The woman fumbled to raise a cardboard sign scribbled with the words, "Need funds for alcohol research." She held out a grimy hand.
    Mr. Firmin huffed into the apartment building.
    Byron chuckled, then tossed the woman a quarter.

  2. Not meaning to over-complicate, but it matters how you define "important." Do you mean influential in an immediate and overtly visible sense? If so, folks like Jesus might not have seemed too important to their contemporaries, yet his life exerted a latent and long-term importance on humans and human history.

    OK, enough of that, you've offered us a good post for thought!

  3. LynNerd - thanks for playing! And thanks for the story - great visuals.

    Mohamed - Ah yes, this is the question. And intentionally left open to see how different minds interpret. Like your commentary. :)


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