The Day The Whole Town Overslept
by Karen Sipps
The sun was almost over the horizon. Casey sighed. Nobody cares about me. Nobody even notices I’m around. As she stretched out her wings to prepare for the day, Casey tried to convince herself that her job was important, but nothing seemed to help her feel better. You see, Casey had a very simple task, really. As the town’s only Cuckoo bird, she was in charge of standing on her perch just before the sun came up at 6:30 a.m., later at noon, and again at 5 o’clock. When the clock bells rang, Casey would pop out of the town Cuckoo clock, right in the middle of town square, sing her cuckoo songs, and pop back in until the bells rang again. The clock’s bells were old and could barely be heard even inside the square. But Casey’s strong clear voice could be heard loud and clear, even as far as four towns away.
Today she was feeling her saddest ever. At the ringing of the morning bells, Casey peeked out from the door of the clock face and started singing.
“Wake up, wake up! The sun is coming ‘round! So hop out of bed and come on into town!”
As she looked down over the town, she could see the people in their houses flitting and flutting about, climbing out of bed, and making their breakfast. But instead of popping back into her clock, she turned around with a heavy heart and shuffled back in.
Noon wasn’t much better. When the bells began to ring, Casey stepped onto her perch, and walked out to the people. Look at all those people. I bet their jobs are important. Nobody even notices I’M around. Her voice quivered with sadness as she sang “Pause for awhiiile to smiiiile, Pause for awhiiile to smiiiiiiile.” Casey turned to walk back into the clock, but stopped at the mirror in the hallway. I’m useless. Nobody needs me anymore, they’re all too busy to notice me. Casey laid down in the bed Mr. Pickle had made for her. Mr. Pickle was the town watchsmith. He came by once a month to oil the clock, check it’s springs, and replace any rusty parts. As she pulled the blanket up to her head, Casey cried her self to sleep.
She was jolted awake by the sound of the 5 o’clock bell! Eep! I’m late! Casey ran out to her perch, but nobody seemed to notice she hadn’t chirped yet. See, I knew my job wasn’t important, she thought as she sang. “Tra-la-la, tra-la-lee, go on home to your familieees”.
That night, as Mr. Pickle pulled into his driveway and walked into his house, he wasn’t greeted by the usual bouncing happy greeting his daughter had for him.
“What’s wrong punkin?” he asked to his daughter, Grace.
“Daddy, I think something’s wrong with Casey,” said Grace.
“Who?” asked Mr. Pickle.
“Casey! You know, the Cuckoo in the Cuckoo clock!” said Grace.
“Oh of course! How could I forget?” He asked. “What do you mean ‘wrong’?”
“Haven’t you heard her today? She sounds so sad! Something awful must have happened.” she said. “Maybe she has a cold. You should go take her some soup.” said Grace, her eyebrows wrinkled with worry.
Mr. Pickle looked at the concern on his daughter’s face. “Okay my dear, you got it. First thing tomorrow morning I will go to town and take Casey some soup.”
But the next morning, the strangest thing happened. The bells rang, but Casey NEVER CAME OUT OF THE CLOCK!
On the outskirts of town, Mr. Pickle woke up to a giant pink tongue licking his hand. He slowly opened one eye – it was the Pickles’ dog, Beaver. “What’s the matter, Beaver?” asked Mr. Pickle. Beaver was NEVER the first one out of bed. He was old, and usually waited for Mr. Pickle to go to work and Grace to get ready for school before he started his day. Beaver never barked – it was just not his way, but Mr. Pickle still knew something was terribly wrong. He jumped out of bed and looked out the window. The sun was up and shining high in the sky. He hurried to put on a clean shirt.
“What is it? What’s the problem?” asked Mrs. Pickle.
Mr. Pickle threw back the curtains. “Look! Out there!” he shouted excitedly. “What do you see?”
“Why, nothing,” said Mrs. Pickle, rubbing her eyes.
“That’s right – nothing! No sign of life at all! No cars down the highway, no school buses driving past, no noise from town – everything is still!” he said, his eyes as big as saucers.
“Oh no! What do you think happened?” asked Mrs. Pickle, her voice quivering.
“I don’t know, but I’m going to town to find out!” he said, as he hurried out the door still wearing his pajama bottoms.
Where are the cars? Where are the people? What is going on? As he drove, Mr. Pickle racked his brain to think what might have happened. Am I dreaming? Maybe I should pinch myself… OUCH! Nope, not dreaming.. what could it be?
As he drove closer, Mr. Pickle came to a terrible, horrible, weird and crazy discovery. I am the ONLY person awake in town! There were no stores open, no kids in school. No mailmen out delivering mail, no moms strolling their babies down the sidewalks. Mr. Pickle looked at the clock. Hmmm, he thought. The clock is correct. Then he thought back to what Grace had said last night: “…something’s wrong with Casey”. Like a bolt of lightning, Mr. Pickle threw open the door at the bottom of the clocktower. He ran up the spiral staircase as quick as he could. “Casey! Casey! Where are you Casey?!?” he screamed frantically.
Is that Mr. Pickle? No, it’s probably someone coming to fire me for not singing this morning. “Hello?” asked Casey. “Who’s there?”
Mr. Pickle heard her faint chirp and burst through the door. “Casey! What’s the matter? Are you sick? Are you hurt? Why didn’t you sing this morning?” He picked her up out of her bed and cradled her in his arms.
“Nobody needs me Mr. Pickle. Nobody even notices my singing. I just figured my job wasn’t that important. You’d really all be better off if I stopped singing altogether, and then I wouldn’t be disturbing your day.”
Mr. Pickle knew exactly what was the matter with Casey, and it wasn’t something that soup could help. She had a bad case of the blues. He walked over to the perch, opened the door and peeked out. “Look, Casey! What do you see?” he asked.
“Nothing,” said Casey.
“Exactly. And do you know why there’s nothing to see?” he asked.
“Noooo, why?” asked Casey curiously.
“Because all of the people in town rely on YOU to wake them up. The bells are too quiet. We need your cheery voice to tell us to get out of bed each morning! Right now EVERYONE is still ASLEEP!”
But Casey wasn’t convinced. “I don’t believe you” she said to Mr. Pickle. “I know you mean well, but I only sing three times a day, how can that be so helpful to everyone?”
Mr. Pickle pointed to the houses in town. “See those families? They never woke up this morning! They’re all asleep! See that school”? he asked, pointing in the other direction. “There are no kids in it! There’s nobody on the sidewalk, nobody on the road. The WHOLE TOWN has overslept because nobody heard your beautiful call this morning. We need you Casey. You get our day started! Then later, you remind us to take a break, smile, and refresh ourselves during lunchtime. And at the very end of the day, you remind us to go home. If you didn’t tell us to go home, we’d probably work all night long!”
Casey’s head lifted… just a little.
“Why Casey, I believe you might have the MOST important job in the WHOLE town!” said Mr. Pickle.
“Really?” she asked.
“Really!” he said. “Go ahead, try me! Sing your morning song and see what happens!”
Casey stood out on the perch and lifted her head. She sang “Wake up, wake up! The sun is coming ‘round! So hop out of bed and come on into town!” All of a sudden, Casey’s eyes widened in shock. The whole town came alive! People started stirring, children rubbed their eyes and climbed out of their beds and the sound of cereal being poured into breakfast bowls could be heard all over the valley.
“I’d never noticed that before” she said. “All this time, I thought the people were already awake when I got out here!”
“Casey,” said Mr. Pickle, “your job is much bigger than you think. Even though you believe you are not important, lots of people out there think differently. You might never know how many people you affect every day, but know this. We’re all special in some way. The smallest, most teeniest itty bitty job you could ever do in a day-like singing just one short minute 3 times a day-could mean the WHOLE WORLD to someone else.”
Casey beamed with pride. “You really think so, Mr. Pickle?”
“Casey, I KNOW so. And so does that whole town that would sleep forever if it weren’t for you!”
And from that day forward, Casey never missed another song. And as for the town, they realized just how much their beloved Casey meant to them. Starting that year, and every year after that on the anniversary of the day the whole town slept in, they held a special festival just for Casey so that she would never again forget how important her small job really was.
This material is copyrighted 2009-2014 and the author retains all rights. This story is made available by the author as a service to parents, teachers and libraries, and may be printed for use by the above persons, but may not be distributed, published, copied, or otherwise used without prior written approval from Mrs. Sipps. All rights reserved.