“The Northpole Employee Handbook” A Guide to policies, rules, regulations, and daily operations for the workers at North Pole Industries (a division of Claus Manufacturing, LLC) (2008)
If you’ve been keeping track of my promise in 2012, to read books in a cycle of non-fiction, then adult fiction, then young adult fiction, you might be wondering why this appears to be the second non-fiction in a row… unless you don’t believe in Father Christmas, in which case you would accept this book, as the book shop owner did, as a work of fiction. Either way, after the last book, I needed cheering up, so this was next.
According to the first page of this book, a bitter ex-employee of Claus Manufacturing, LLC, named Snarky, left this handbook among costumes and decorations in a box of Christmas things in the storeroom of a department store in New Jersey, USA. It would seem that Snarky was dismissed from his employment at the North Pole and relegated to the lowly rank of a department store Santa helper.
The handbook makes for entertaining reading… it seems Santa might not be the jolly old fat guy we think he is. Let me share some of my favourite bits…
In the Equal Employment Opportunity section:
…we will not discriminate based on sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. As to the latter, we assume that if you are willing to pull on a pair of striped tights and wear a waistcoat cinched with a wide leather belt, you are at the very least open-minded.
In the Harassment Policy:
The following behaviours constitute harassment:
a. Flicking of stocking-cap pom-pom
b. Inappropriate use of the phrase “jingle bells”
c. Unwanted straightening of curly-toe booties
d. Recitation of limericks that begin with the phrase “There once was an elf from Nantucket…”
e. Whistling, other than while you work
f. Suggestive comments involving the words “sleigh ride”
My favourite job, in the Position Titles section:
Bow-Finger Technician –
The B-FT holds his or her index finger down on the ribbon while the Gift Wrapper ties off each delightful bow on each beautifully wrapped package.
The ‘He Sees You When You’re Sleeping’ section:
Owing to pending legal action, this section temporarily omitted.
Activities and Committees: under the Elf Socials heading:
Banned music includes: Good King Wenceslas, banned by Santa, who knew Mr Wenceslas and found him insufferably pious; The Nutcracker Suite, banned by Santa who never bought the whole toys-coming-to-life premise; Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime, banned by Santa, Mrs Claus and the parent company, Bowl Full of Jelly, Inc. because it makes their ears bleed; Frosty the Snowman, banned by Santa because a minor mythological figure is hardly deserving of his own song; and Santa Baby, banned by Mrs Claus because it is ‘way too close to home’.
Also in the Activities section:
Yuletide Yoga – Santa first discovered yoga while delivering a toy elephant to the son of Akbar the Great in 1556. Ever since, he has encouraged the formation of an extra-curricular committee that offers its teachings to our staff. Come in, pick a chakra, find your prana, chant a mantra, and tap into the ancient energy-restoring powers of this deeply spiritual practice. Then get back onto the assembly line and serve the forces of market-driven capitalism from a place of renewal and maximum efficiency. (Lab fee of $50 includes yoga mat, aromatherapy candle, and CD of wind chimes.)
In the Cafeteria section:
Christmas is, of course, a time for over-indulging in sweets.
Breakfast: $8.95 – oatmeal cookies, egg nog, pumpkin pie, chef’s own figgy pudding
Lunch: $11.95 – yule log, rum and milk, squash pie, fruitcake, more fruitcake
Dinner: $15.95 – pound cake, cheesecake, zucchini cake, cranberry cake, pecan cake (all 5 food groups, as nuts constitute a meat-substitute)
I should confess, this book didn’t take long to read. In fact, Patrick would argue that it shouldn’t even count. But it’s 140 pages long and it gave me a laugh, and we’re not in a competition any way, so it counts.