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The Haven

Santa Just Fired His Elves Over Zoom

Amid rumors of a “toxic work environment”

The elves gathered around their home monitors at 2:40 p.m., per Santa’s emailed instructions. Unable to congregate in the main workshop or communicate face to face with their boss since COVID struck the North Pole in March 2020, they wearily clicked the Zoom link Santa provided.

Soon Santa’s grainy image appeared. The elves were perplexed. Normally Santa chose a holiday-themed background; there were hundreds to choose from since Mrs. Claus had installed a green screen in the garage housing Santa’s sleigh. But this time Santa sat at his kitchen table, a blank wall behind him. The table contained a legal pad and a half-consumed glass of egg nog.

“I come to you with not great news,” Santa began.

Yes, COVID had caused supply chain issues, but the elves had pivoted and were still on track to produce the Marvel action figures, the Harry Potter Lego sets and the Jurassic World Super Colossal Tyrannosaurus Rex toys that dotted kids’ online wish lists in 2021. Maybe the news involved the T-Rex. It was no secret that Santa had added some COVID pounds; lugging dinosaurs down chimneys would be a tall order this Christmas Eve.

“This has been a very challenging year,” Santa continued.

“Well duh,” an elf responded, careful to first ensure his microphone was muted.

“The market has changed, and we have to change with it,” Santa said. “Some kids, particularly older ones, are opting for ‘experiences’ rather than toys. Try as we might, we can’t manufacture whale watching excursions and hot air balloon rides from the workshop.”

“That’s what gift cards are for,” another elf mumbled.

“Excuse me?” Santa said.

“Nothing sir. That was my dog,” the elf replied.

“We are laying off about 15 percent of the workforce,” Santa said, removing his bifocals for emphasis. Audible gasps were heard, and a few elves responded with elf profanities, the most popular being, “Holy Snickerdoodle!”

“If you are on this call, you are part of the unlucky group,” Santa said.

His words hit the elves like the weight of a falling Christmas tree. How could Santa be so cruel? Hadn’t he learned anything from Better.com CEO Vishal Garg? On December 1 the mortgage lending company’s founder terminated more than 900 staffers via Zoom. In his address, Garg said it was the “second time he had to do this.” The elves could never remember Santa doing anything similar and many had been the jolly man’s faithful helpers for upwards of 300 years.

Garg’s video quickly went viral, forcing him to take time off, “effective immediately,” and putting him on numerous naughty lists for life. It didn’t take long for Santa’s address to experience a similar fate. CNN obtained a copy and, that night, Anderson Cooper conducted an EXCLUSIVE interview with fired elf Tinsel.

“I had to inform my wife and 37 kids,” Tinsel told Cooper. “We trusted Santa. Most of my kids were looking forward to the day they could join the workforce. Not anymore.”

“What are you going to do now?” Cooper asked.

“Not sure,” Tinsel replied. “There aren’t a lot of opportunities at the North Pole outside of toy making. But I’m putting my resume on LinkedIn tomorrow.”

The next day, rumors of a “toxic culture” in Santa’s workshop began to surface. One elf promised to produce emails of Santa calling the elves “lazy” and “not worth their weight in candy canes.” Lawyers stood at the ready, forcing Santa to issue a carefully crafted apology, courtesy of his marketing team.

“I failed to show the appropriate amount of appreciation and respect for all you have done,” the apology stated. “I shall try to do better. Until then, Merry Christmas.”

Santa’s offer of two month’s severance pay was generous but most elves reached for comment said they were meeting with financial advisors to discuss their futures.

Kids be warned; the Great Elf Retirement may soon be upon us.

Greg Schwem is a business humorist, motivational corporate comedian, corporate emcee, nationally syndicated humor columnist for Tribune Content Agency and creator/host of the streaming TV series, “A Comedian Crashes Your Pad.

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Greg Schwem

Greg Schwem

Business humor keynote speaker and MC. TV host, “A Comedian Crashes Your Pad (I’ll sleep w anybody!) Nationally syndicated humor columnist, Tribune Co.