I walked in the human resources office and the receptionist looked up.
“Are you here to be one of Santa’s Elves?”
“Um, well, uh, I…”
A woman came out of her office, looked me down and up and declared, “Right! Santa’s helper! You’ll love it! You’ll start the day after Thanksgiving! Just fill out this form….”
I filled out the form and reported to Santa’s Workshop and to the photo studio on the fourth floor. Kazoos covered the Christmas music. I was met by my co-worker, Pebbles, and we were trained on the camera and the cash register.
“Pebbles, as in Pebbles and Bam-bam-Pebbles?”
“Yeah, you got it. My parents had some sense of humor.”
“Hey, I was going to be named Stanislas Florian.”
“Man, your parents had a sense of humor, too.”
Pebbles and I got along very well. We complimented each other and learned to handle crowds, photograph antsy children, and encourage families to buy bigger photo sets of their children’s visits to Santa.
The one area that was a challenge: Santa. There were three Santas whom I remember.
Mumbly Santa - He was the most authentic looking, for he had his own beard. But he didn’t relate well to the children, and more important to Pebbles and me.
Self-Righteous Santa – He was hard to take. He spent creepy amounts of time with the children and would chide Pebbles and me when we suggested that perhaps Mrs. Claus might like to see him sometime before Easter.
Happy Santa – Our favorite. He was about 6’4” and lean like a marathon runner, but I think his leanness was due to his habit. Happy Santa would get up and go “feed the reindeer” on a regular basis. He would settle in his red plush gilded chair and sweet smell of marijuana would waft off him and towards Pebbles and me.
“Reindeer okay, Boss?” Pebbles would ask.
“Yeah, Elf Pebbles. The reindeer are nice and relaxed. Real hap-py. Now let’s see what you want for Christmas little one….” And he would turn his attention to the children and smile for the camera. He was a joy to work with.