Climbing up the snowy hilltop towards the North Pole a few weeks ago, I was trying to figure out who I could interview for Christmas this year.
I have gone through most everyone who lives there: Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, some of the elves the year they went on strike, and even some of the other reindeer. Seemed to me there was no one left to talk to, so I thought maybe Santa had an idea.
Then I noticed this small building in the middle of nowhere. There was smoke coming out of the chimney so I knew somebody had to be inside. As I got closer, I notice the letters NPPS on the front door. What could that possibly stand for?
I knocked on the door and heard a very loud, “This had better be a matter of life or death! I’m too far behind and need to be left alone for the next few days!”
Sticking my head in the door, I said in my friendliest voice, “My name is Pat Fickle. I work for The News-Times in Columbia County, Georgia, USA. I come up here every year to interview somebody for the paper and have never noticed your home before. Please trust me. I am a very dedicated reporter looking only for human interest stories from the heart of Christmas.”
“Oh really!” This coming from behind a desk so piled with papers I could not see who was behind them. “I’ve read your columns but, obviously, no one seemed to think I was important enough to be interviewed. Did you not see the sign on the front door?”
“Yes, I did, but didn’t know what it meant.”
“Well, for your information, NPPS is North Pole Postal Service, and this service only has one employee. Me!”
As he spoke, he stepped out from the desk and I saw an elderly elf with worried lines across his brow that must have taken several decades to form. “Do you realize how many letters Santa gets in one year? Do you know how hard it is for one person to sort these letters? I have to read every one of them and determine what children have been good and who has been naughty.
“Then I sort through them all to determine which toys Santa should deliver. After all, some of the lists are very long, and somebody has to pick out the toys most important to a particular child.”
“Wow!” I blurted out before thinking. “Would you be willing to give me a interview? It’s obvious to me that you are a very important component in making Christmas possible.”
“No time! No time! Besides, haven’t I already given you enough information? I’m overworked, underpaid and, if I don’t get back to these letters, half the children in the world will go without toys.
“Now get on back down the mountain or go to Santa for another interview,” he said. “While you’re at it, ask him for a couple of helpers. He never listens to me, always talking about the economy and such.”
I left the North Pole that day without a normal interview but with great respect for the elderly elf. Maybe I’ll get up the nerve to talk to Santa next year about getting him some help.
For now, I’m leaving well enough alone.
(Pat Fickle is a Martinez resident.)