It was nearly quitting time a few days after Christmas when the door knocker at Santa’s Workshop began sounding. As he was the nearest of the elves, Godwin walked to the front of the factory, hopped up on a little stool and then on to the stepladder by the door. When he reached the top rung, he swung open the peep hole and saw the snow blowing fiercely outside. He was used to that – but what surprised him were all the tanks and other vehicles and the large assembly of men and soldiers who were outside the door.
“May I help you,?” Godwin asked.
A man held up a badge which said, ‘Federal Bureaucracy of Interrogation. Godwin had never seen one of these before.
“We’re here to see one S. Claus,” the man said.
“Just a minute, sir,” Godwin said. And he closed the peep hole and quickly scrambled down the ladder.
When he got to the bottom he turned to face the workshop, put his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Santa. We have visitors.”
Santa was in his office. He had just finished setting up the “Naughty and Nice” book for the next season. He grabbed the book and put it on the shelf space which had been reserved for it, next to all the other ones that he had inscribed in years past. He pulled back from the desk, walked through the workshop and went to the front door.
When he opened the door the agent at the front of the entourage without greeting barged through the door and shoved his badge in Santa’s face.
“Special agent N. Quisitor. Are you S. Claus?”
Santa, a little startled at the man’s rudeness replied, “I’m Santa Claus. May I help you?”
“Please, gentlemen. Come in from the cold.” And the group waiting outside the door came into the warm workshop, stomping the snow from their boots.
“We’re here because there are some serious problems which have been raised by your operation. In fact calling them problems is an understatement. I have a list of violations, an extensive list for which you must answer.”
“Violations of what,?” Santa asked.
“Federal regulations,” Special Agent N. Quisitor replied.
“I can’t imagine anything that we’ve done anything wrong, “ Santa replied. “What exactly are these violations?”
“Well, to start with, we have no record of your filing any tax returns. That means that you are not only in violation of the IRC as a non-filer but you have not paid over the FICA tax you are withholding from your employees’ paychecks, nor have you paid your employer’s share of that tax. And we have no record of your having paid any unemployment insurance for your employees.”
“Well, that’s easy to understand. You see, sir we don’t pay the elves any salary. They work for the simple joy of it and receive their room and board in return. And we don’t make any profit at this business. We do this simply for the joy of being able to provide presents for the children all around the world.”
A look of shock came over N. Quisitor’s face. He responded, “Well, in addition to your failure to file the appropriate returns you are also in violation of the Federal Minimum Wage law. In fact, you’re probably also in violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery. Your elves are little more than indentured servants.”
“Indeed,” said Santa. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Feel free to ask any of the elves if they are held against their will. They all share my joy at the work we do and if any of them wanted to leave he is free to do so at any time. But if you speak with them, you’ll find they have all been with me for centuries and are happy to be here.”
“Then there’s the matter of your violating OSHA requirements that you provide ramp accessible access to your facilities for your vertically challenged and otherwise physically handicapped employees. You will admit that your elf employees have a height issue, wouldn’t you? I suspect that you haven’t properly retrofitted your lavatories to accommodate them either.”
N. Quisitor went on. “Then there’s the issue that there are only male elves here in your workshop. That is a clear violation of the EEOC requirement that employment be offered irrespective of gender.”
“Well, you see,” said Santa, “the lady elves are all at home taking care of their children. They are busy rearing them, feeding them and they also are the teachers in Elf School.”
“And what is the curriculum in your so-called ‘Elf School’? Do you use the Common Core which is now mandatory in all grammar schools?”
“No. We teach the same thing that we have taught for centuries – toy making, Since that’s what we do here, that’s what the young elves need to learn.”
“Well, that’s a violation of Article XIII of the ‘Universal Mandatory Education Act’. You will be held accountable for this gross deficiency and violation of the law.”
“Now, on to the allegation that you have been depositing coal in certain of the stockings which people hang. Is that true?”
“Well, sadly it is true. You see, I would rather that no one get any coal but unfortunately … ,” which was as much as Santa could say before Special Agent N. Quisitor cut him off.
“Aha. You realize that you are in violation of EPA regulation 27399 – Section 124 Paragraph 9. “The use of coal or making trade in coal whether anthracite or bituminous is hereby prohibited as it is responsible for pollution and global warming. Are you admitting that you are violating this regulation? Furthermore, I noticed as we came in that there is a herd of reindeer outside your facility. Are those yours?”
“Well of course they are. There’s Prancer and Dancer…” N. Quisitor interrupted the jolly old man and said, “You realize that reindeer in their droppings produce methane gas – a further violation of EPA regulations – and are one of the contributing factors to the melting of the polar ice caps. On these EPA charges alone you have a lot of explaining to do. I hope you have a good lawyer.”
“Last but not least, it’s our understanding that you make your delivery of these toys by hitching the reindeer to your sleigh, flying around the world. However, the FAA has no record of your ever having filed a flight plan with them. Do you realize how you are endangering the public safety by conducting unauthorized flights, potentially compromising the well-ordered routes which licensed airlines fly?”
“Well, you know I’ve been doing this for decades – in fact long before there were airplanes. And in all that time there’s never been an accident – not one.”
“Mr. Claus. You’ve been very lucky – but you, sir are an accident waiting to happen. Get your coat and come with us.”
And they took Santa Claus away – in handcuffs. And in their hearts they knew they had done the right thing – making the world safer for bureaucracy.