“The Optimist Police,” is a humorous story about one man’s struggle in a society with unrealistic expectations about positive attitude. The 3000 word story was originally published by New Myths.
The Optimist Police
By Sarina Dorie
Tony had done a good job faking optimism most of his life, but recently with the new surge in Optimist Force technology, he’d been caught twice. The first time at a restaurant, the second in a theater. As if the acting in the movie hadn’t been bad enough to ruin his date, the police trampling over theatergoers to get to him wasn’t exactly a romantic way to end the evening.
“Happy thoughts,” Tony muttered as he walked along the street of boutiques and specialty shops. “Happy thoughts, happy—don’t let them catch me. Happy—Oh, shit, did I turn off the oven?” He pushed a handful of his black hair away from his itching eyes, took a deep breath and sneezed. Damned allergies. Why did there have to be so many trees in this stupid city? He’d woken up to hay fever, he’d failed to deliver two pizza’s within the forty minute time limit while at work, and now he had to go to his thirtieth birthday party and see his annoying family. This was the shittiest day ever.
A siren sounded the next street over. Tony quickened his pace, hoping to lose himself in the crowd of Saturday shoppers on the street of trendy little shops. He could still get those cannoli shells from Pastaworks if he hurried.
A large man blocking the sidewalk in front of Tony exclaimed in a cloying voice, “What a beautiful day we’re having!”
Tony glanced up at the typical, overcast Oregon sky. A raindrop plopped on his nose. “Don’t say it,” he told himself. “Don’t look at them . . . think happy. . . singing in the rain. . . .”
“Mommy, I stepped in dog poo!” said a little girl of about seven. She crinkled up her nose in disgust.
Tony smiled in spite of himself. At least children thought like normal people.
“Worse things do happen,” chirped the mother.
“Yeah, I’m lucky I didn’t slip in it. I’m lucky I didn’t get struck by lightning. I’m lucky I didn’t have to take a math test.”
They sounded like robots programmed for happiness. How did they do it? Even children made positive thinking sound simple.
Tony looked around. Police officers pushed through the crowd.
“Zippidy do da,” he said. He tried to whistle, but his mouth was dry and he was out of breath.
They were going to catch him again, and this time he’d probably be sent to work in a coal mine.
“Blip blip bleeeeeeeep,” the police scanners sounded as they approached.
Damn it, he had to stop doing it. Just keep his thoughts light and happy and their scanners wouldn’t pick up any readings from his “pessimist chip,” and they’d pass him by. If he was lucky.
“There he is!” shouted a police officer from up ahead.