Back to the Old Grind

December 25, 2009

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The sleigh glided down to the snow, touched down for an instant, and hopped back into the air before landing for the final time. The reindeer taxied quickly to their stable, in spite of their exhaustion from the long journey. Their food was close enough to smell. Santa unhooked them from the sleigh and the deer near trampled each other in an effort to get to the food that Mrs. Claus had left out for them.

Santa smiled as he watched the deer hungrily devour the first meal they had eaten in a day. He knew that they would be sound asleep shortly after they finished eating. It had been a grueling day.

The man in the red suit trudged up to the big house. The first order of business was a long hot shower. As usual, his red suit was beyond saving, and would be thrown in the trash again this year. The hot water felt good on his cold skin, and the powerful bursts from the showerhead removed the soot from his skin. Eventually, Claus emerged from the shower, slipped into his pajamas, and searched for food.

He immediately hit pay dirt. There was a pizza box on the top shelf of the fridge. It contained a nearly whole Canadian bacon pizza from the best pizza joint north of the Arctic Circle. There was not time to waste with frivolities such as reheating, so Santa inhaled the pizza cold. He chased it down with a liter bottle of Pepsi. When he was finished, he let out an enormous burp that could probably be heard as far away as the workshop.

Saturday was a completely lost day. Santa slept until 8 PM, woke up long enough to eat and share a few words with Mrs. Claus, and then slipped back into slumber once again. Sunday was a day of leisure that Santa spent watching football with a few of the elves.

Monday marked the return to the normal grind, and it came far too soon. Most of the elves were on a long vacation, so there was a skeleton crew at the workshop, mostly handling the handful of request for returns.

The Claus mailbag was already busting at the seams. Not with gifts from good little boys and girls – those were still many months away. Instead, they were filled with bills from suppliers and solicitations from every whack job that thought they had the next brilliant idea for a toy design and wanted a hefty licensing fee.

Santa tossed the mail from wannabe toymakers into the recycling bin.  He had more than enough designers on staff, and couldn’t afford to license designs from independent contractors.  He tossed the bills to the side, where the accounting team would have to deal with them later. Costs had been steadily rising for the last few years, and funding had really dried up in the wake in the international economic crisis. The non-profit North Pole Toy Company had enough funds in reserve for one more year like this. Beyond that, Santa feared that he would have to start asking children to send a check with their letters.

Santa looked down at his calendar and realized, with great dismay, that he had a noon meeting with Malcom Snogsworth, the head of the Elfen Toy Makers International union. ETMI had been aggressively negotiating in recent years. Snogsworth had been using the threat of an OSHA investigation as a means to blackmail Santa into paying higher wages. OSHA was not aware of the 23 hour work days in December, and he preferred that it stay that way. The OSHA officials typically made their visit in the middle of the summer, when the elves rarely worked more than twelve hour days.

Even worse, Snogsworth always insisted on meeting at Red Lobster, and never picked up the tab.

Santa hated Mondays.

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