The Quality of Mercy is Strained.

This is based on Matt 18:18-35 where a king forgives a servant who owes him much until he hears that the same servant has not forgiven a small debt. It is a lesson in forgiveness. The excuses are based on actual excuses I used to receive as a teacher for students being late for college.

Cast: A boss(B), one of his workers(W). The scene takes place in his office where he is pacing around waiting for her to arrive.

B (knock at the door)(sharply) Come in and sit down please!(W comes in and sits)
W I'm sorry I'm late but I got held up on my way to work
B Yes I'm sure you did, just as you have for every day in the last few weeks. Miss Smythe, what time does this office open in the morning.
W Nine o'clock
B What a pity we never seem to have your company much before nine thirty.
W I'm very sorry, but I assure you that I always leave home in plenty of time - things just happen to me.
B Isn't that strange - I always leave home on time and get here with sufficient time to read the paper and have a cup of coffee first!
W I'm sorry, I don't mean to be late and will try harder.
B Oh, come on. What really gets me are the lame excuses. Take last week for example, let's say Thursday. You came on the Tube but were left sitting in a tunnel because of a person who had conveniently jumped under a train at Oxford Circus.
W Somebody really did though and it was on London Today in the evening - don't you have any sympathy for his family?
B Of course I do, I am just a bit short of sympathy for people who use him as an excuse to loiter on their way to work.
W (sounding grieved) But I didn't!
B And what about Friday - you had a friend who was taken ill and were stuck in Casualty all night and your car got clamped in the hospital car park.
W Yes, really - I couldn't leave her and when I got back to my car it was clamped.
B How imaginative - I'd never have thought of that one.
W But it really happened and I even have the receipt for the fine with the time stamped on it.
B And on Monday - someone broke into your car and you had to spend an hour while the police checked it out.
W Yes, you can ask them if you want. You don't believe me do you? .
B Miss Smythe, I like to think that I am a caring employer but I am getting to the point where my good nature is wearing thin. I expect you have some fantastic tale to tell me about how you were late this morning. What was it - you family were abducted by aliens?
W Well actually, as I was coming on the tube, and suddenly the carriage started to fill with smoke so I pressed the emergency button. Did you know it took 10 minutes for the driver to evacuate the train and find out what was going on. Luckily it wasn't serious. If you don't believe me, ring the Victoria Line Controller. I'm sorry to be late but it was out of my control.
B Miss Smythe I could sack you, but I am a reasonable man, and as Shakespeare said - the quality of mercy is not strained so you have a second chance.
W Thank you - you're such a kind man. I really will try harder to not have so many mishaps.
B Thank you Miss Smythe (W leaves). Now to get on with some work.(B uses the telephone)
W Ah, could you get me Sam Brown please - what? - he's been sacked? Who sacked him? Miss Smythe? Why?.......... You mean just because Sam lost a file she sacked him. ......unsympathetic? You bet that's unsympathetic. Could you ask accounts to make a set of P45s up for Miss Smythe? Thanks.

Mark Reid 1999