12 June 2007

The Police Cloud

Author/Illustrator: Christoph Niemann

This story starts out with a happy little cloud with dreams of being a police officer. With the help of his friend the police helicopter (as they say, it's not what you know, it's who you know), the cloud secures a position with the police force. The cloud's dream has come true! Oh happy day!

Unfortunately, while a dream deferred may shrivel up like a raisin in the sun, a dream realized often deflates and withers away like a balloon in an outhouse. In a series of regrettable events, the cloud realizes that he is not suited for police work and eventually has to leave the force.

His dreams shattered, he roams the skies, sobbing uncontrollably... when he happens to pass over a burning house. As luck would have it, his tears put out the fire. Huzzah! The story ends with the cloud finding his true calling. He joins the fire department and lives happily ever after.

Or does he?

Yes, he is the new hotshot in the fire department... but at what cost? The problem is that his greatest assets are his tears. His level of productivity is directly proportional to his misery. In order to remain useful to the fire department, he must sacrifice his happiness and live in a perpetual state of sadness. Whenever a call comes into the department, the other firefighters tell him sad stories about condensation, make fun of his weight (calling him cruel names like Tubby Cumulus)... anything to produce the tearful precipitation that they need to put out the fire.

This type of existence is borderline unbearable and the Cloud finds himself in the unenviable position of having to choose between:

a) living a useful life as a productive member of society but being stuck in a viscious cycle of unending sadness, or

b) floating through life without a care in the world, but being practically worthless to society.

This is a difficult decision, but one that many people face (most painfully on Monday mornings). Do we chose to continue the office job that pays the bills even though work life seems highly detrimental to our mental well-being? Or do we say, "Screw the office!" tear down the cubicle walls, and take to the open air--free (and poor) as a bird?

Being a dutiful employee, the Cloud will probably decide to stick with the job as long as he can... that is until the psychological distress overwhelms him and he goes on a rampage, flinging lightning bolts and hail all over an unsuspecting city. His friend the police helicopter tries his best to calm him down, but to no avail. All of his old colleagues at the police force do their best to catch the rampaging storm cloud, but before they can reign him in he just... evaporates into thin air.

Just like that, he is gone and the city is safe again... but for how long? It is only a matter of time until the disgruntled cloud returns and pelts us with the salty tears of his rage, reminding us that a good-paying job is not worth the price of your soul.


vi said...

Hold up! Every cloud has a silver lining (pun ruthlessly intended). Once again, Monsters Inc comes to the rescue: why shed tears of sorrow and mental anguish when you can shed tears of joy? Better yet, tell the cloud a good enough joke and you might get it laughing so hard it cries AND pees its fluffy pants...an added bonus!

Liz Allman said...

I'm sensing some misplaced career anxiety.