The boss council worker - let's call him Mr Moustache - had only just come back from holiday and already things were going horribly wrong. He went to see the big cheese, his dear friend and close adviser, Smiley Bob, to see if he could help cheer him up.
What Mr Moustache & Smiley Bob might look like...
Image: The Press
Smiley Bob sighed and patted Mr Moustache on the shoulder. "There, there..." he said. "It's not so bad. I mean, all those hours you put in on the weekends certainly helped your golf swing." He strode over to the window of his high rise office and stood silently surveying his crumbling empire, a city that was shrinking daily with the assistance of brightly coloured diggers, dozers, and demo crews. A city in which the natives were getting restless, organising protests and handing out flyers.
"I have a few problems of my own," he said. "Ever since these earthquakes started, the tourists have been staying away in droves. It certainly doesn't help when people harp on about the destruction, and then some southerner decides we should pack it all in and move down to Dunedin. With all those hills and scarfies and freezing winters? Support the Highlanders? No thanks. I'll admit, there's been a little bit of positive press out there but what we really need is a catchy new slogan, or some sort of gimmick to bring the tourists back."
Just then there was a knock at the door, and in walked Dodger, the lion from Orion, and the generously-proportioned Controller from Grand Central Station.
Characters may or may not look like this
Image: The Press
"Dodger! Mr Controller! How nice to see you" said Smiley Bob. "To what do we owe this pleasure?"
"We heard you were having a celery crisis, and I thought I would recommend a nice market gardener I know." Dodger smiled like the Cheshire cat as Mr Moustache and Smiley Bob laughed nervously at what they hoped was an attempt at humour.
"No seriously. This salary crisis - you're doing it all wrong. To prove that you're truly worthy of the position, your salary should go down, not up. Money is not the reward here, and if that's what it takes to give you motivation then you're in the wrong line of work. There are bigger forces at work here, isn't that right Mr Controller?"
"Eh, what? Oh yeah, what he said. Look, if we're done here, I'm just going to pop across the road to the police station... they must have some donuts there somewhere." And with that, he tugged on Dodger the lion's glorious mane and the two of them tiptoed through the orange traffic cones over to the cop shop for an afternoon snack.
Smiley Bob watched as the door closed, and turned to face Mr Moustache. "They make a very good point, don't you think? In fact, that little visit has given me the most brilliant idea!"
Mr Moustache's lip quivered. "You're not going to make me take a pay cut, are you?"
"Don't be silly, dear friend. Good heavens no. I'm talking about a new marketing idea for our new-look city... the city with a hole in the middle... The Donut City." Smiley Bob was getting excited now, throwing his arms up in the air as he imagined a fitting monument to replace the damaged cathedral. "We could change our name, call ourselves Springfield and use that donut statue that little town got from the movie company a few years back."
Mr Moustache frowned. "Didn't that get burnt?"
Smiley Bob barely paused. "Pffft. No matter, we can build another one... I mean, it can't possibly cost as much as a cardboard cathedral, right?"
The creases between Mr Moustache's equally impressive eyebrows got a little deeper. "And what about the name... won't they object to us taking it?"
Smiley Bob just smiled some more. "Oh, Mr Moustache... it really is a mystery to me why you are paid more than the Prime Minister of this marvellous country. Who cares about a trifling little town in the middle of nowhere? Besides, we have a few names spare now that we've got rid of some suburbs round here... perhaps they could become Bexley South, or maybe Brooklands? That whole suburb is going, so pretty soon there'll be nobody left to complain."
He crossed the room and stood once more at the large window overlooking the city. "Mmmmm, yes. The Donut City... the city with sprinkles. We could give out free donuts at the airport to everyone who arrives, distract them with donuts, dazzle them with sprinkles as we steer them away from the icky broken bits we'd rather they didn't notice. What do you think, Mr Moustache?"
Mr Moustache had a dreamy look on his face as he pondered a future full of donuts. "I'll have mine sprinkled with gold dust, thanks."
*while this 'fairy story' may contain or refer to factual elements, the conversations depicted here are only taking place within the confines of my earthquake-stressed imagination.