Often at this season, I visit Elvin Elfenhausen, my inside guy at the North Pole. “How’s the Jolly Old Man?” I ask.
“Not very jolly,” he sighs. “Nor would you be jolly if everything around you was turning from reliable snow and ice to slush and water.”
“I forgot,” I say. “Global warming?”
“Yes, but not just global warming,” Elvin says. “That supposedly slow disaster is happening with disturbing quickness. And it seems everything else is going to pot. Santa’s thinking of moving.”
“Santa moving his workshop from the North Pole?” I exclaim.
Immediately, I wonder which of my friends in the economic development business I should call with this startling opportunity.
“Where’s he thinking of going?” I prod. “How many jobs? What incentives? Cash? Tax abatement? A frozen TIF district? Labor training support? Does he want a new building or would an existing structure, zoned manufacturing, suffice? Does he demand a sleigh launching and landing site?”
“I don’t know,” Elvin sobs. “He’s despondent about relocating after all these years. Think of uprooting all the elves. Rerouting all the mail. The disruption to the supply chain.”
“Yes,” I try to be consoling, but I’m burning with questions. “So is he looking around?” I ask.
“Well,” Elvin says with reluctance, “don’t tell anyone, but he’s visited Amnesia in your state.”
“Very wise,” I say. “Just off U.S. 35 where new jobs are being sought and many vacant buildings stand.”
“He likes the small-town feeling,” Elvin continues. “There probably won’t be the need for all that infernal security in such a town. Santa came back from visits to Gary, Logansport and Kokomo impressed by the absence of armed guards in those city halls. He hated going through the metal detector at the Indianapolis City-County Building, where he had to take off his belt and his baggy pants fell down.”
“Shameful,” I say with obvious sincerity. “He’s a dignified guy.”
“Oh, there’s so much more,” Elvin confesses. “The NSA is after us.”
“You mean NASA, the space people, are hassling you?” I ask.
“No, the National Security Agency,” Elvin replies. “They want to know the sources for his list of Naughty and Nice. They want assurances he is not taking pictures over restricted areas on his domestic delivery routes. Yet, they demand all digital cards from his camera when he flies over foreign lands.”
“This is serious,” I say.
“Terribly,” Elvin says. “Local authorities demand he get landing permits for each rooftop. Some want to arrest him for unauthorized entry of private property.
“Public health advocates,” Elvin continues, “want folks to stop putting out cookies for him and substitute brie on celery sticks.”
“Atrocious,” I cry.
“Worst yet,” Elvin says, “Santa wants to bring in a group of talented Syrian elves to refresh our labor force. Yesterday he got a letter from your governor opposing the idea.”
Departing, I say, “It’s unclear why Santa imagines there’s peace in amnesia.”