Saturday, December 26, 2009
WWW of Spin Turlock #4: Santa Blog
The truth can be told now.
I was Santa Claus.
For six days, consisting of five hour shifts, I was a department store Santa Claus. I had the red suit with white trim, the theatrical faux beard and belly, the works.
I got the gig through the local temp work agency. I was to be the back-up for the regular guy, an elderly man, suffering from a seasonal bout of bronchial pneumonia.
During the job interview, we went through all the basics: the legal pitfalls of the position, the importance of a good entrance and exit, and the diaphragm mechanics involved in invoking a hearty “ho, ho, ho”.
My work consisted of posing for photos @ $20 CDN a pop with infants, toddlers, children, teens and fully growed-up adults. Generally, I would arrive 30 minutes prior to the shift start to don the jolly apparel, and get said gear visually inspected. And you needed to get said gear inspected, because once you had the beard on, you could see s!@t below said faux-facial hair. Once engaged, it was the photographers’ job to adjust my costume on a PRN (i.e. as needed) basis.
Generally, the clients would come in two waves. The first was the noon to 2 p.m. rush, consisting of moms with their infants and toddlers, and teens and grown-ups on the their lunch. The second wave would consist of mainly of parents with older, school-age kids.
Here’s how it broke down:
1) Infants : three weeks to ten months. This was easy. You prop the kid up, the photographer distracts it with sleigh bells or “peek-a-boo” manoeuvres and snap, bang, boom , you’re done. For the record, I did not get vomited, urinated or defecated on.
2) Toddlers: 10 months to 2.5 years. It gets trickier at this point. Generally kids get either separation or stranger – or both – anxiety. If there were no other siblings present, generally we suggest one of the parents pose sitting on the arm of the chair with the child on their lap. This worked about 60% of the time, but we still had our share of screamers. And, if you have one screamer in front, you’re pretty much assured of setting off a chain reaction with any other toddlers in the line-up. A sanguine disposition is required for
3) Children 2.5 – 8 years generally believe in Santa and more than happy to lay on him their hopes, dreams, artistic endeavours and generally lengthy wish lists. Girls still like Barbie dolls and boys still like Hot Wheels cars, but DSI, Xbox, and Lego sets are popular this year. The latter item is, by the way, considerably more hi-tech than what we were used to. At this age, though, the photographers have to coax smiles and attentiveness, but that’s not my concern.
4) Teens/Adults: At a certain point in one’s life, Santa moves from being a physical reality to a conceptual concept. It is at this point things get complicated. For reasons which are not immediately apparent to me, packs of young teenage girls (12 -15) seemed to think it was cute to get a photo done w/Santa. Not so much with the males: although we did get one Gangsta Santa pose done.
5) Fully Grown Adults The very odd occasion. And I do mean odd:e.g. the weed-scented dude who, when asked what HE wanted for Christmas, replied:
‘I told my ex-wife I wanted a Bangkok whore’ (promounced hoo-er)
Low point: being asked if Santa was “white”.
Sad point: being asked to help make a child’s mommy better.
Quotable Quotes & Their Rebuttals:
“Wouldn’t you like it better if was I naughty?”
“Um, I’d get trouble with Mrs. Claus for that”
“Santa, can I get a Ferrari?”
“Well, I couldn’t fit THAT on the sleigh , now...”
"Santa, I don't think you're real!"
"You have a computer? Google my name and Virginia in quotes"
Had a quiet Christmas with Shirley . We have enough leftovers to last several weeks, and we probably don't have to eat for the next few days.
Next issue: "All Of My Friends Were There" - A review of Liz Worth's new book, "Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Toronto & Beyond Punk Rock"