Reflections From A Retiring Elf

Frank the Elf is retiring soon after 112 years on the job at Santa’s Workshop.  We thought it would be interesting to get his thoughts on how the job of an elf has changed over all these years. Over a pint of Christmas cheer at The Coal Mine (our local pub) Frank covered quite a bit of territory.

How has the workplace changed since you started out?  It’s no longer the fun, free-wheeling place we used to work. All these laws and regulations have really stifled our creativity and our productivity.

Can you give me an example?  I can give you hundreds.  For instance, they don’t let us drink in the workshop anymore, In the old days, the smell of peppermint schnapps hung over the place and after a pop or two, everybody would just start coming up with all these ideas for new toys and gifts.  That’s how we came up with Barbie, Beanie Babies, Lego – you name it.

How about “The Little Junior’s Home Surgery Kit”?  Well (chuckling), they weren’t all great ideas but that’s how the creative process works sometimes.  Anyway, that was a Marketing Department issue.  They are the ones who dropped the ball on that.

What other changes have there been?  Lots of emphasis on employee health and fitness.  Some time ago they took all the free sugar plums and candy canes out of the shop and replaced them with chia seeds and jicama sticks. How are you going to keep up with the insane production schedule around here if you can’t keep that sugar rush going?

And you can’t smoke anywhere on the premises – Santa has been a real Grinch ever since he had to give up that pipe.

It sounds like you don’t really approve of employee wellness programs.  Don’t talk to me about wellness.   After Santa lost 80 pounds on his program, they ended up laying off Donder and Blitzen because they no longer needed as many reindeer to haul him around.  Not a lot of wellness for those two, was there?

You don’t think employee health and safety are important?  Sure, but there has to be some sort of balance.  I mean, we had been doing things the same way for a long time and were pretty successful at it, I’d say.  Then one day, OSHA came in and said that we needed better lighting and navigation equipment if we were going to go out on foggy Christmas Eves.  Next thing you know, Rudolph’s out of a job and trying to catch on as one of those signal guys on the airport runway.

Has the workplace culture changed?  You bet.  First of all, a lot of folks never even come in.  They all claim to be “working from home” (Frank made little air quote gestures with his fingers as he said this).  You ever try having a Zoom meeting with a bunch of elves?  You can’t even see them over the tops of their desks, you just hear their squeaky little voices.  And Frosty never attends.  He says that his computer freezes up, but people tell me they’ve seen him drinking frozen daiquiris at the bar when the meetings are going on.

And we don’t ever have Christmas parties anymore, not since that candy cane incident with Dottie in Accounting.  Now, we just have to do annual harassment training.

It sounds like you are looking forward to leaving.  What are your plans?  I’m going to stick it out through these last few days and then I’m off for a better climate.  I bought a little place in International Falls where I’m told it’s much warmer than here.