Christmas 2009 to Christmas 2010; a blur of making up lists (and checking them twice, of course) manufacturing toys and packing the old sleigh.
Lemme tell you there’s been some rough flights in the 20th and 21st Century; barrage balloons over London, ack ack over Berlin and SAM6’s over Sarajevo and Baghdad. I mean what radar could tell me and the reindeer team from a B-1 Bomber? Not exactly a candy cane sleigh ride, I’d say.
But this year, pleasing the customers and in-flight turbulence weren’t my biggest problems. It was a year popping with litigious challenges. I should have known I was in trouble when Mrs. Claus got a job offer from the Fed-Ex folks: VP of Polar Operations, they offered her. And to sweeten the kitty, they threw in Northwest Canadian Operations, too. Guess what they were after? Not her management skills, but the distributing and networking secrets of our operation. We’ve been in business almost 200 years, you know. And I figured out that hub secret in the late 1890’s. You think its easy to deliver a billion gifts in one night, not to mention nibbling on a billion cookies, and downing a billion egg nogs without crashing into a roof top?
So sure, they made a mouth-watering offer to Mrs. Claus. Pay and fringes that made me and my operation look like small potatoes. But Mama turned them down. After all, she’d signed a non-disclosure and non-competitive agreement with me a hundred years ago. I’d have taken them to court faster than they could get a package from Memphis to New York. And can you picture a judge or jury finding AGAINST Santa Claus? Ho, Ho, Ho. That ended that.
But Mama wasn’t the only trouble. Those Animal Activist people came up in April. Worried about the reindeer, you know. Were the pens big enough? Were they getting a balanced diet? Stuff like that. The workload worried them, too. I mean there’s a billion Christian kids in the world and there’s only a 4-5 hour delivery window on Christmas
Eve. By what “cruel and oppressive” technique did we drive those gentle reindeer - none of whom had work permits? And after they left, here comes the INS folks claiming they’re all Laplanders, without visas.
They didn’t seem concerned about a pudgy senior citizen who squeezed himself down a billion chimneys in a single night. I tried vainly to explain that there was a miraculous side to this Christmas Eve delivery business involving a special holiday time warp
decreed by the boss. Kinda like the way he bends time in space. But I’m not sure they understood. “See ya in court,” was their final statement. “Merry Christmas,” I shouted back. I just can’t believe Donner and Blitzen would testify against me.
No sooner had I waved goodbye to these litigious visitors when the FDA, OSHA, and FAA folks showed up - all carrying brief cases bulging with laptops popping with regulations - but not one copy of Dickens Christmas Carol. They had blizzards of questions. What was the age of the reindeer fleet? What was our maintenance schedule? Why did we never file a flight plan?
And were there any illegal immigrants among the elves? If a kid ate a leg off one of my dolls, would she suffer from indigestion? There was also a guy from the Justice Department with a cherry red nose who was worried about tasteless jokes about Rudolph’s cherry red nose. People with red noses, he informed me, were entitled to dignity. Check out the Aid to Disadvantaged Americans Legislation, he says. Rudolph
swears he didn’t call ‘em. But the Justice Department guys were the worst. Accused me of “predatory piratical practices”. They said me and mama and the eight Laplanders constituted a monopoly because we were the only providers of this Yuletide service. “Ergo, you are a monopoly.” And why wasn’t there a Kris Kringle Operations and Father Christmas Inc.? Had I devoured them in a stock swap? All this from the owners and operators of the US Post Office, a mountainous monopoly that instructs OPEC in “Single Supplier Price Augmentation” techniques.
Lucky for me, we passed that North American Free Trade Act. I’m International, you know, and I never bothered with import duties. But now, thanks to NAFTA, I’m almost legal. But not totally. The tariff commission guy hated me - said I was the worst dumper since Toyota tried to give away Corollas back in ‘95. “Thank goodness we stopped
‘em cold. Can’t have Americans driving free cars, you know.” He went on to explain that every doll I give away in Des Moines is a doll that sits on a shelf in a Des Moines toy store. He’d be a lot happier, he said, if I left a bill with each delivery. But the climax to their investigation came when they asked to see our payroll records. “Well, there’s no payroll records,” I explained, “because nobody gets paid.”
The Department of Labor guy made a spastic motion like Blitzen jabbed him in his hindquarters. “That’s against the law,” he said. “You’re the worst violator, on record, of minimum wage legislation!” Then they all started jabbering about non-profit corporations, Chapter S partnerships, and Small Disadvantaged Business (the elves, you know). “We’ll see you in court,” they chorused as they filed into their government 757. “Ho, Ho, Ho,” I shouted.
Me and Mama went back to the workshop. Looks like historically I’m transitioning from Legend to Defendant to Felon. After all, I’m only a simple manufacturer and distributor of toys. And I don't have a legal staff. Maybe next year we’ll skip the whole thing and attend one of those government seminars where they teach you compliance techniques.
The humor of Ted, the Scribbler on the Roof, appears in newspapers around the U.S., on National Public Radio in Huntsville, and numerous web sites.