At five in the morning Mr Potato woke up in a
August 23, 2005
Mr Potato was late. He was always late. Even when he tried his
best to hurry he would end up late. Sometimes he would get his
wife to wake him up at five-thirty in the morning but he would
still be late. He worked in an office. Everyone else in the office
was a potato too. They all looked like him. That was the good
thing about the office. The bad thing was if he was really late
all of the other potatoes would get the best jobs. The first to
arrive would be boss and the last would be the cleaner. His colleagues
recognised him by his mop -- if anyone was mopping it was
likely to be him. If nobody was mopping it was likely he would
soon arrive to mop. But on this spring day Mr Potato was determined
to be boss. His wife was having sleepless nights, despairing at
his inability to arrive anywhere on time. She’d even threatened
to leave him.
“Where would you go to?” he said.
“I’ll find myself another potato -- or even
Mr Potato knew he had to act. He knew that all Potatoland citizens
looked the same, but he would stay bottom of the sack so long
as he continued being last to work. So he bought an Alarm Zapper,
a device that fixed onto the head with hydraulic clamps. The danger
was that if he failed to get up, it would start to peel him. Peeled
potatoes were looked down upon by all of the other potatoes in
the land -- even those who were never on time.
“I simply refuse to be late anymore,” he said to
himself. “If I don’t wake up, let me be peeled. It’s
what I deserve.”
On the night before he had to get up his wife asked: “What’s
that thing on your head?”
He explained what it was and she laughed.
“That thing won’t get you up,” she said. “You
have to want to get up yourself.”
“I do darling but I can’t,” he said.
“What are those blades on it for?” she said.
“If I don’t get up they’ll start to peel
“Peel you?” said his wife. “I’m afraid
to say you have gone quite potty.”
But Mr Potato was unfazed. He wanted to be first in and he wasn’t
taking any chances. In fact he was risking both his marriage and
career -- no one would want to employ a peeled spud. They
lived in a poor quarter of the town where you would rarely see
the ones with jackets. They didn’t have much money and were
taunted if they ever ventured out. And those who were convicted
for a crime would be sliced and sold as French fries.
At five in the morning Mr Potato woke up in a sweat. He had
set the alarm for 6.30. This would leave an hour to wash and have
breakfast and plenty of time to reach the office by 8.30. No one
would be there then. He was worried that the alarm would go and
peeling would start. He didn’t want that. The process was
irreversible. He looked at his wife, fast asleep wearing a light
smile. She looked happy. He looked in the mirror and saw
himself, a silhouette of the gadget on his head -- it made him
He’d placed it there himself but still managed to be disturbed
by it. The clock on the wall ticked. It was projected by the contraption
on his head. When his head moved, so did the clock. This made
him sweat all the more. Nothing about this device seemed right.
Why could he not take it off now? Why was there that catch? But
it was too late. He could not turn back the clock and had to wait.
Deep down he knew that he would be okay. He knew that he would
survive and be boss, but until the alarm sounded he would not
allow himself to believe it. He would not allow himself to celebrate. “How
could I?” he said to himself. “I’m about to
be peeled if I’m not careful.”
It was now ten to six. Figures on the clock blurred as his eyes
closed. He tried hard to keep awake. But soon he was asleep and
now the clock would decide his fate.
Sure enough at six thirty AM it went off. The blades were poised
to peel -- he had one minute. The device, despite rattling
violently, failed to wake up Mr Potato. But it did his wife --
she punched it off the bed. Mr Potato fell with a big crash. He
up, startled. The countdown had started but he got up in time.
The clamps loosened and the razors disappeared.
Mrs Potato rushed to help her husband. She yanked the alarm
off his head. She was proud of him. She hugged and kissed him
and for the first time in a long time, they made love. Yes, this
meant doing mop duty again at the office, but he didn’t
care about that now.