In my years of writing columns, I have been privileged to have direct contact with the North Pole concerning events of interest. Having received an e-mail last week from the head of the Elves union, Ratchet, I feel it my obligation to forward information to those of you expecting presents on time. The following is a telephone conversation between Rat and myself:
Dedicated Reporter: Thanks for returning my call, Rat. What's this I hear about your union forcing a strike around Christmas?
Ratchet: Yes, it's true. Santa's board of directors have decided not to give us the yearly raise and to take away some of the health benefits. They don't seem to realize that elves have medical problems not seen by the general public. The pointed shoes are the worst. It tears the feet up and bunches toes together to the point of causing great pain.
D.R.: I always thought you guys were so dedicated that nothing would stop production of dolls, trains, etc. After all, the children of the world are counting on you to finish their requests by Christmas Eve.
Rat: Yes, we are dedicated but one can only tolerate so much. Do you realize we only get a 30 minute lunch and dinner break? That's right, I said dinner. This time of year we're expected to work 24 hours a day.
D.R.: Surely, some type of agreement could be reached so that Santa can leave with a full load by Dec. 24. What would he tell the children?
Rat: Just because we're smaller doesn't mean our feelings and physical needs are less. But don't worry. I'm expecting a call any minute to see if they've agreed to a compromise. Wait, my cell phone shows Mrs. Claus calling. She's the one person we agreed to let mediate for us.
(Several minutes went by and I was getting more nervous about the Jaguar I'd requested in my letter.)
Rat: Good News! She forced them to give in to some of our requests. No more pointed shoes. We can wear tennis shoes now. We can also go home to our families by 9 o'clock every night. However, that will mean toys for adults might not be delivered this year on time. I know what you requested and the Jag may have to wait.
D.R.: But I sent in my letter in October! That's not fair!
Rat: Sorry. The kids are more important, and some of the toys requested take quite a while to assemble. People think computers help all industry, but who's going to build the computers themselves?
D.R.: OK, OK, but it seems you could throw together a sports car as quickly as a train set. I am very disappointed.
Rat: We're all sad about that, but it's more important that youngsters continue to believe. Adults know for sure about Santa, but there are too many little ones starting to have doubts. Keeping their hope alive is more important.
I hung up the phone with a heavy heart even though what Rat had said was true. I have no trouble believing I'll get my car next year. At least, all the little ones won't be disappointed.
Merry Christmas to all and, if somebody gets an extra sports car, it's probably mine.
(Pat Fickle is a Martinez resident.)
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