(///straying.enlised.chemist – Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi, Finland)
It was a mutiny. The elves said the workload was out of control. The annual effort to determine which children had made it to the nice list, and who was stuck on the naughty list, frankly it had become too much.
“It was all very well when the earth’s population was smaller,” their union leader insisted to Santa. “But now there are too many of them. It’s unmanageable.”
“What do you suggest?” Santa asked calmly.
“We need modernisation. Better hours. More time dedicated to wrapping.”
The leader started suggesting ways to improve LIGS (Lists Information Gathering Service). “An anonymous survey for parents to fill in and send back,” he suggested. “Spam,” Santa said. “They’ll ignore it.”
“Social listening, automatically monitoring digital communication to determine each child’s behaviour.” “Straying into snooping there,” Santa advised. “Imagine the furore if that came out.”
“I’ve enlisted the help of a chemist,” the leader said, exasperated. “He could automate analysis of their bodily functions to tell us, I don’t know, something.” Santa shook his head. “Even you must be able to smell that one,” he joked.
“If I could say something,” the elves’ welfare office said hesitantly.
“Go on,” Santa encouraged her.
“Well,” and she cleared her throat. “Isn’t the concept of the naughty and nice list a little, well, antiquated. Don’t we want everyone to have a wonderful Christmas? Why should some miss out for being hyperactive or difficult? Christmas is for everyone.”
“That’s the spirit!” Santa roared. “That’s the true meaning. From now on, the lists are abolished!”
The elves cheered. It was a perfect result. Their workload diminished. The essence of Christmas enhanced. Everyone was delighted.
Except that once Christmas was over, the elf workers council met to look at the year ahead. With no lists there was less to do. With less to do there might be layoffs. And what was an elf to do if there was no Christmas to prepare for?
“I think we might have been a bit hasty,” the union leader said. “I mean, lots of elves enjoyed the list work.”
“Elf wellbeing is very important,” the welfare officer said.
“A very good point,” the leader nodded. “You know what? I think we should go and see Santa.”