The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.
Streamlining was appropriate in view of the reality that the North Pole no longer dominates the season's gift distribution business. Home shopping channels and mail order catalogues have diminished Santa's market share, and he could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.
The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School, is anticipated and should take up the slack with no discernable loss of service. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has been cited and received unfavorable press.
Rudolph's role, however, will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose got that way, not from the cold, but from specific substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of year when he is known to be under executive stress.
As a further restructuring, today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" subsidiary.
The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, thus providing considerable savings in maintenance.
The two turtledoves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. Their positions are therefore eliminated.
The three French hens will remain intact though they will now cluck in English with only the hint of an accent, thus reaching a broader market share audience.
The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call-waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often, and how long they talked.
The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks appears to be in order.
The six geese-a-laying constitute a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it gets will be a good one.
The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. Their function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are in order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and, therefore, enhance their outplacement.
As is known, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the work force is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring, or a-mulching.
Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps.
Ten lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the compensation committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressman. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we expect an oversupply of unemployed congressmen this year.
Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line.
We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals, and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop-slip in one day, service levels will be improved.
Action is pending regarding the lawsuit filed by the Attorney's Association seeking expansion to include the legal profession (thirteen lawyers-a-suing).
Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the right number.
The above article was sent to the Scottish Rite Journal in the spirit of the holiday season by Bro Kevan van Herd, 32, Kelowna, B.C. Canada, who first encountered this anonymous essay on CompuServe.