Boss: Santa, could I see you in my office for a minute?
Santa: Certainly, but I hope not for too long. It’s Dec. 27 and I’m exhausted from flying around the world and leaving presents for all good boys and girls. I’m ready for a long winter’s nap … and football.
Boss: That’s what I’d like to talk to you about.
Santa: Football? Hey, I know gambling on the workshop floor is prohibited. That Steelers/Browns thing a few weeks back was just a friendly wager between me and Sparkles the Elf. Won’t happen again.
Boss: It’s not that. See, it’s about your position here.
Boss: Yes. The board and I have been looking at our cash flow over the past quarter and weighing it against some rather hefty capital expenditures …
Santa: I’d hardly call some carrots for the reindeer and decent housing for the elves “hefty capital expenditures.”
Boss: From your perspective, perhaps. From ours, we barely made 3 percent more profit than last year, and that gets the stockholders jumpy. And when the stockholders get jumpy, the board gets jumpy. So …
Santa: You’re letting me go?
Boss: Letting you go? Goodness, no. You and your image are huge assets to the company. Why, in merchandising alone, that red hat, white beard and “Ho! Ho! Ho!” make us billions. See, Nick … I can call you Nick, can’t I?
Santa: I suppose.
Boss: Nick, we just plain can’t afford to have you working only one day a year.
Santa: One day a year? But what about all the mall appearances? And a shopping season that starts in October? I’ve worked the last three months without a single day off and with no extra pay.
Boss: Well, have we required that from you, Nick?
Santa: No, not exactly. I mean … it comes with the territory, I guess.
Boss: Exactly. Now about these changes: Effective immediately, you will also double as Father Time on New Year’s Eve.
Santa: But that’s Bob’s job!
Boss: Bob has been … let go.
Santa: You fired him?
Boss: No, we … right-sized him. Now, he weighs less than you, but with a little squeezing, his 2012 sash should just about fit.
Santa: Hrrrmph. Why not put me in the Baby New Year role while you’re at it?
Boss: Some on the board wanted to do exactly that, but the diaper’s too small. And while we’re at it, you’ll also be playing the role of Uncle Sam on the Fourth of July. Weight is a definite issue there, and since we subcontracted this job through the U.S. Department of Defense, we’ll need you to shed, say, 200 pounds between now and June.
Santa: But, but …
Boss: I know, I know … your image as a jolly old elf will be irreparably harmed if you stay thin. The good news is that between July 5 and July 25 — Christmas in July, you know — you’ll be mandated to put the weight back on.
Santa: Now just you wait a minute! I have rights too, you know? What about my contract? Santa’s a team player and all, but this is going too far!
Boss: Oh, you think so? Well, pursuant to Santa Claus Clause 102.7 — the so-called Insanity Clause* — the corporation has the right to modify your contract at any time, with no advance notice, and no input from you!
Santa: But … but … how can this be? I’ve always been a good employee! I’ve let millions of little kids sit on my knee and rub their sticky fingers through my beard! I’ve stuffed myself down chimney after chimney and never complained when the walls were stuffed with asbestos.
I’ve ruined my health eating dozens of sugar cookies left beside glasses of milk! I’ve even smoked that ridiculous pipe in defiance of the surgeon general’s warnings! How can you do this to me?
Boss: It’s easy, Santa. See, the company has reorganized and moved its home offices to Michigan. Merry Christmas, at-will employee! Now, let’s talk about Mrs. Claus, shall we? She’s been quite the drain on our self-funded health care plan this year …
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* Thanks to the Marx Brothers for this.