Elf Grievance Committee Meeting with Santa Claus

Date: December 12, 2012

In attendance:  Santa Claus, Mabel Bernardi, Director of Human Resources,  Jerry, Elf in Charge of Workplace Safety and Morale, and  Nate, Elf Employee Spokesperson

Mabel:  Good morning.  I trust you all had a very nice weekend.

Nate:  We were here all weekend.

Mabel:  Well I trust it was nice just the same, Nate.

Nate: (muttering) And last weekend and the weekend before that…

Jerry: Knock it off, Nate.

Mabel:  So, it looks like everyone is here.  As you know, it’s crunch time at Santa’s Workshop with Christmas just days away, so please, let’s do the best we can to stay on point.  I see everyone has their agenda, so let’s start with, let’s see…  Ah, the first issue is the recommendation to mandate the wearing of hard hats.   Wait.  I thought the elves already had hard hats.  Didn’t we hand out hard hats back in January?  Santa?

Nate:  He’s asleep.  HEY!

Santa: Who the hell’s screaming?  What is it?  And for the record, I was just resting my eyes.  You’re not the only one who works around here.

Mabel:  Hard hats.  Did we pass out hard hats to the elves in January?

Santa:  Yes, we passed out hard hats to the elves in January.    What’s the problem now?  They want ’em to match their shoes?

Nate:  No, we want ’em to protect our heads.  The one’s you gave us are made out of felt.

Santa:  You’re not going to hang that on me!  You got a problem, talk to Gwen in Marketing.  She’s the one who said real hard hats would diminish our brand.  Why don’t you just wear three or four of the felt ones at the same time, like she told you to?

Nate:  I’ll recommend that to Pete in Testing.  In case you don’t recall, he’s the guy that was struck in the head by a flying Roomba when one of the elves in Assembly mistakenly put it together with a toy helicopter engine.   Have you seen Pete lately, Santa?   The only thing you can get out of him when you say hello or ask him a question is, “Canned peaches get a bad rap.”

Santa:  Well, he’s probably right, there.  They say there’s more nutrition in the canned than the frozen.

Jerry:   What about the hard hats, Santa?  Can we get them?  And while we’re on the subject of safety gear, we’re going to need steel tipped elf shoes, as well.

Santa:  Alright, fine, fine.  Hard hats and hard shoes.  I’ll get them.   Keep in mind, safety shoes don’t curl up around the toes, so they’re going to have to be square toed and I’m giving you advance warning,  you guys are going to look like three-foot Teamsters and Gwen is going to have a fit.  Like always, I’ll deal with it.  Just like everything else.

Jerry:   Thank you, Santa.  The elves will really appreciate it.

Santa:   Whatever.  Sometimes I think I’d be better off moving the whole operation to China.  The workers would kill for a felt hard hat over there, believe me.

Mabel:  Item two.  The cafeteria.

Jerry:  I’ve been getting complaints from the elves about the limited menu choices in the cafeteria and the vending machines.   Some of them have concerns that the food is negatively affecting their health.

Mabel:  Specifics?

Jerry:  We conducted an informal audit of all the food and beverage options available to the elves and based on our report, every single item contains a minimum of 250 grams of sugar per serving.

Santa:  I assume you referring to Sugar Plums, Candy Canes, Gum Drops and Hot Cocoa?

Jerry:  Yes.

Santa:  That’s what we eat!   That’s what I eat!  That’s what Mabel and Gwen eat!  That’s what elves are supposed to eat!  What in the name of God is wrong with you people?

Mabel:  Santa, if I may.  I don’t understand where the disconnect is, Jerry.  You know as well as I that sugar has been the staple food at Santa’s Workshop from the very beginning. Perhaps it bears repeating  that our performance record with regard to meeting and exceeding our Christmas goals year in and year out is perfect and in no small part, directly attributed to a menu rich in energy generating sugars and sugar bi-products.

Nate:  Mabel brings in a salad every day for lunch.

Santa: What?

Nate:  Brings a salad in.  Every day.  Couple of the elves saw her at her desk.

Mabel:  I most certainly do not!

(Nate reaches over to Mabel’s briefcase, extracts a Tupperware container and after avoiding Mabel’s attempt to snatch it back,  calmly hands the container to Santa while staring straight ahead the entire time.)

Mabel:  Give me that!  That’s private property!

(Santa opens the container, physically deflates when he sees that it’s full of lettuce, places the top back on the container and slides it across the conference table toward Mabel.)

Mabel:  How could you?

Nate:   There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, Mabel.  It may interest you to know that the elves and I consider you to be the Lewis and Clark of responsible eating at the North Pole, and that’s in spite of the fact, that as the head of HR, we’re not all that crazy about you.

Santa:  Wow…  You think you know a person.

Mabel:   I had to do it for my husband, Santa.  My marriage has been….   (becoming indignant) You don’t know what it’s like out there.  You don’t go to parties.  Barbecues, fundraisers.   You don’t have to pick up your kids from school.   These women!  They’re total gym rats.  Yoga.  Pilates.  Spin classes. Personal trainers.  Juice fasts!  Not an ounce of fat on them!  And always, always on the prowl.   I can’t compete on a diet of gum drops, I just can’t!  The first week I got here, I gained six pounds.  I’m sorry!

Nate:  Tell Santa what we want, Jerry.

Jerry:  (referring to a sheet of paper)  The elves have requested a menu that contains a healthy balance of proteins — chicken, pork,  fish and cheese — carbohydrates comprised of complex starches, fresh fruits and vegetables, soy product substitutes for those who may be or may consider becoming lactose intolerant and filtered water available at all times.

Santa:  Perfect, I’ll get on it right away.  I’ll even ask the cook to serve your fish, your fruits, your grains, vegetables,  soy lattes  –all that stuff — out of your old felt hats; how’s that sound?   What, dare I ask, would you like to do with all the remaining gum drops, candy canes, sugar plums and cocoa we’ve been surviving quite well on for the last 2,000 years?

Nate:  I’ve been giving that some thought.  What about distributing it to people on the naughty list?  They wouldn’t realize it was a punishment until they became so obese they could no longer get out of bed or fit through their own doorways.  Has an O. Henry vibe to it…  (Nate, very pleased with his idea,  looks around the table for approval but gets none)

Mabel:   Duly noted.  For the sake of time,  I suggest we table that discussion for a later date.  The last item on the agenda is the employee Christmas party.

Jerry:  The elves want to know why we have to have it in June.

© 2012 The Monkey Bellhop and John Hartnett

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