Santa Claus - My Fake Diary

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Tuesday, 22 February 2011 - Dearest diary, the toy shop is vacant now, and it's a major bummer. Since the elves went on strike as of midnight this morning, I am confronted with a rather disturbing prospect which I haven't even considered for ages: I might actually have to pick up a hammer and put all this crap together myself!

As you know from my previous few entries, in response to the perceived upturn in the economy last year and a subsequent increase in demand for more toys, our management team had no choice but to reinstate the mandatory overtime policy in the most recent labor agreement ratified in 2008. This clause, as it were, in preparation for the usually heavy peak toy-building season, allows us to require all builder elves to work 12-hour shifts from June to September, 15-hour shifts from September to November, and 18-hour shifts from November through Christmas Eve. When the latest agreement expired at 1200AM GMT, on 25 December 2010, we agreed with UBENT (United Builder Elves of the Northern Territories)that productivity levels would continue without a new agreement provided that the elves would not be forced to work longer than the normal, non-peak 10-hour shift. Despite cautious optimism, both sides of the table were well aware that sooner or later this agreement would have to be revamped in order to avoid a work stoppage.

After the holiday season concluded, and once the wife and I returned from our traditional two-month vacation in El Segundo, California, I was eager to resolve the differences both sides had and to continue work unabated. I was sincerely anticipating an uneventful renewal of our contract, as had been the case for over 600 years, with no snags on either side. Man, was I in for a shock!

I can't really put a finger on who leaked it out that management had toyed with the idea of shortening lunchtime and smaller breaks, but when I find out who did it, their ass is grass! I mean, what really is the harm in shortening lunch from an hour to thirty minutes and coffee/smoking breaks from fifteen minutes every four hours to ten minutes every six hours? I mean, most of the elves don't eat or smoke much, and they are usually already back at their tables well before their time is up, anyway. Apparently it went over like the proverbial turd in the punchbowl, because when the Local 544 shop steward got wind of it, he immediately called for a vote to strike if the rumor was true. Like a parent whose child starts to ask questions about whether or not I really exist, I did what any loving parent would do...I lied my fat ass off, and stated unequivacably for the record that the rumor was false. The union obviously saw through that, and in a unanimous vote, they agreed to lay the tools down at midnight this morning.

I don't have an inkling how this is going to turn out, but if what's happening outside is any indication, they're in it for the long haul. My best toybuilders are picketing out in front of the shop with signs fashioned out of small boards they stole from the woodpile. You can't actually see the signs from in here, though, because there's a foot and a half of snow on the ground. All you can see of the elves is the pompom on the end of each of their silly little hats. I count about twenty of these small fuzzballs slowly traveling around one another in a circle, and if one were to put an ear to the window he might hear a faint muffled collection of tiny voices chanting one of those dim-witted picketing rhymes. I can't make it out exactly, but it sounds an awful like "Yes, yes, yes we can, put it to the fat old man!"

All of this talk of work stoppage had led me and the wife to the inevitable realization that for the first time since I could actually fit into a speedo, Christmas might not come to the good children of the world this year. That's the real shame in all this. The most innocent are always hurt the worst in a labor dispute. In the corporate world, that would be the consumers of whatever product or service that is not being provided. In the world of make-believe, that would be the good boys and girls who look forward each Christmas morning to opening up those long-awaited gifts from yours truly.

If there is any consolation to be found here, it lies in the fact that I can always count on one thing never to let me down. Well, actually nine things, besides my wife of 450 years. Those are, of course, my precious reindeer who have never given me a moment's difficulty since I switched from long-haired wildebeasts a few centuries back (they, by contrast, were extremely demanding). All the reindeer ask is that I give them a proper daily feeding, hooficures when needed, and plenty of rest after Christmas is over each year. Every once and again, I'll throw in a carrot or two, when in season. Even if I were to put an end to the fringe benefits and give them only feed and water, at least I don't have to deal with a bothersome union breathing down my neck.

Well, dear diary, I'll close for now. Hopefully, my next entry will bring better news. I suppose I should start dusting off my old tools and preparing myself to take up the slack, as there certainly is a whole bunch of that! I might even have to retrain all able-bodied members of management who I seriously doubt have even touched a tool, theirs or anyone else's, in a very long while. Most of my managers were hand-picked from the laborforce for their ability to delegate responsibility but not necessarily for their ability to create a well-crafted toy. Therefore, my challenges are great, but for the sake of the good kids of the world, I will assure them that there will be a Christmas this year, or at least a pretty decent pretention of one. As for those back-stabbing elves who are foolishly freezing their fannies off and fretting over fanciful facsimiles of fairness in our factory, if they don't come to their senses and return to the bargaining table to work out this mess, I'll do to them what I do to every bad little boy and girl on Christmas Eve...I'll leave a big, hard lump in their stocking, but it won't be coal!!! Good night, dear diary.

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