Friday Morning Dept. Heads Meeting, North Pole Conference Room —
‘Morning, Bingo. How’s your weekend?
Weekend? What weekend? Nobody gets a weekend this time of year. You know that.
I do. I meant it in jest. I haven’t had a day off since Columbus Day. By now you’d think that one year, just one lousy year, we’d have everything wrapped up by Thanksgiving. But no! Every year it’s a crazy mad dash to the finish. It’s getting as chaotic as Black Friday down south.
Tell me about it. And I was absolutely sure that after The Big Man brought the folks from Apple up here – how many years is it now? — to hook us all up that things would run as smooth as fresh snow.
We all thought that, Chuckles. By the way, I just ran in to Eenie from Logistics at the cocoa machine. She said The Big Man stopped by her department at the shift change at 4 this morning and game ‘em all hell.
Why? Her department’s as productive and efficient as any, yours and mine included, ever since she took over — what? — 400 years ago?
My point exactly! Anyway, she said his face was as red as his suit and it would be wise for us to watch our…backs. She added that she hasn’t seen him this worked up since Prohibition.
Yeow! I’d forgotten all about that! Yeah, he was PO’d big time. As I recall, some sap from the Distribution Department had asked him what the problem was and that guy spent the rest of the year mucking out reindeer stalls.
So, what’s got his long johns in a twist this year?
I only wish I… Oh, hey, good morning Boss! How’s everything going?
Fine, Bingo. Do you have reason to believe otherwise?
No, Boss. Just wondering.
Are you paid to wonder?
Forget it. Ok, let’s get down to business. We’ve got very little time left and a lot of work to do, so let’s keep this brief.
Yes, what is it, Algernon?
Sir, I’d like to again propose establishing a legal department.
Good grief! Again with the legal stuff? Haven’t we gone over this, over and over and over again, over the last couple of centuries?
Yes, Boss, we have. But each year the world become a more litigious place, and it was by sheer fortuity…
Fortuity? Good fortune? You know, luck.
If you meant luck, why in the name of Donder and Blitzen didn’t you just say so?
Sorry, Boss. But if you remember, we escaped some serious trouble a few years back by a whisker’s width when all those hoverboard things started catching fire.
So tell me, Mr. Barrister, do you really think we have to worry about a process server slapping us with a lawsuit? Up here?
Not here, certainly. But perhaps one day the suits will track you down on you winter getaway. Let’s just say that on a tropical beach, you don’t quite blend.
Speaking of which, our plans are to head for Tahiti right after the wrap-up conference. We’ll be going as an Icelandic couple celebrating their 50th anniversary.
More like 1,500th.
Funny, Bingo. But you know the saying: 1,500 is the new 1,000. Anyway, this isn’t the time to talk vacations or attorneys.
In all fairness, Sir, it was only a few days before an earlier Big Flight that Herme got to be a dentist.
That was — what? — over 50 years ago! And as I recall, Algernon, Herme didn’t like to make toys. That caused so much friction in Production that he and a bunch of self-proclaimed “misfits” set out to be “independent together” and almost got themselves killed!
I can’t argue with that, Sir. But he did save everyone by pulling out the teeth of the Abominable…
…Which they never would have encountered if he’d stayed put and simply filed a grievance with his supervisor.
But Boss, don’t you remember how you felt when that cola company started using your likeness without permission in the ‘30s? They must have made a fortune. Just think, if we had a legal team back then…
Oh, sure. Editorial cartoons would have shown little Johnny or Janie excitedly tearing the wrapping off a small box Christmas Morning, saying, “Look Mommy! It’s a subpoena from Dasher Dancer, Attorneys at Law!” The folks in PR and Marketing would have had my hide.
Next subject. Yes, Buddy?
Well, Boss, I have to report that the, uh, naughty list has grown of late by an order of magnitude.
Sir, we’ve had to enlarge our server farm to keep up with the number of new names added recently.
Um, remember Bill Cosby?
No, that can’t be right.
Afraid it is, Sir.
Un-frosty-believable. Forget the flippin’ naughty list. I wish we had an inmates list. Now that, I’d DEFINITELY check twice.
Seems it’s the same old story, Boss. Powerful men abusing women. But more women now feel they can bring it to light without fear of repercussions.
So down there it’s one step forward, but a billion steps back. And yet they expect me to remain jolly and smiling and just full of holiday cheer. I know! How about we close the workshop and get our hands on a coal mine?
The EPA would be all over us like sleet.
And rightly so. Alright, enough. If none of you have anything else, let me just say thanks for all the hard work. It’s much appreciated. But right now I hear a roaring fire and a mug of hot rum punch calling my name, so we are adjourned.
Algernon, would you hang back for a minute?
Sure, Boss. What’s up?
Hold on. Wait until the others are gone. OK, here’s the thing. Remember my mentioning Tahiti?
Yes, you and the Mrs. will be heading there soon.
Mmmmmmaybe. It seems the resort we booked bounced us. They said they were booked solid for the whole winter and took our reservation by mistake. But, uh, sources on the inside say otherwise, that they gave our cottage to some congressman or senator who needed to get as far away as possible as quickly as possible.
Uh, OK, so…
Remember the proposal you just offered?
The one you shot down, in front of the entire…?
Yeah, yeah, forget about that. What I want to know is how fast can you be up and running?
Well, folks who used to work the wooden rocking horse line are dying to get their hands dirty again.
That’s the spirit! The dirtier the better! The Mrs. has wanted this trip for decades and I swore this would be the year. But can I count on you to…
Not to worry, Sir, I’ve got contacts down south eager to help get us up to speed. Those guys in Tahiti won’t know what hit ‘em.
Perfect! You are the man!
Thanks, Sir. Happy to help. But, given the weight of this responsibility, don’t you think an office suite on the castle’s top floor would be appropriate?
Or, in the alternative, you could be next year’s Elf on the Shelf.
Ah, yes. Well, then, I better get right to work.
Now there’s a good lad.
Tim Kelly is a former congressional press secretary and award-winning reporter, editor, columnist and photographer. He has lived on the North Fork for 30 years. For his mid-life crisis, he became a bagpiper.