Read a chapter from Tom Lang’s MRS CLAUS:
I was born to run a Fortune 500 company. At age 7 I owned, operated and franchised a chain of successful drive-through lemonade stands. In middle school I reengineered the cafeteria food lines to maximize playground time. As high school treasurer, I funneled “donations” through the principal’s office to soften his views on the independent study.
I went on to earn my MBA from a prestigious business school in the Midwest. For my master’s thesis I evaluated the efficiency of my own school’s business department. As a result of my recommendations, four professors were denied tenure, two assistants were urged to “pursue other opportunities” and my advisor, an old friend of the family, was stripped of his pension.
Upon finishing my Workaholic in Residence Program at the local branch of the Foreclosure Bank of North America, I graduated at the top of my class. Recruiters fought over me as if I was a blue chip athlete. I chose a small-cap, high growth company with rapid multiple product introductions. Within months, with my solution-oriented instincts for problem solving, I became an invaluable member of the senior management team. However, after the first leg of my oxygen-depleted career arc, I found myself curiously unfulfilled.
I set a goal to get back on track. I hired a Chinese Feng Shui master to re-energize my office. Mr. Woo built a moat around my desk and filled it with exotic Oriental goldfish. He hung crystals from my ceiling and replaced my phone ringer with a ceremonial gong. I reread the #1 bestseller, “Rationalizations Seven Successful CEOs Use to Convince Themselves They’re Doing Something Worthwhile With Their Lives.” I even refused to work more than 12 hours on Sundays.
Nothing helped. Was it me? Was it my job? Headhunters contacted me constantly, but I turned down lucrative offers every day. Then, one night, at 2 a.m., I turned in early. While flossing my teeth, checking my voice mail and balancing my checkbook, the business section fell off my lap onto the floor. I leaned out of bed and a block of letters from the page expanded in front of me:
Efficiency Expert at the North Pole
Serious Inquiries Only
The North Pole! Now, that sounded interesting. I faxed my resume from my machine I kept on the nightstand next to my bed. I nodded to sleep and tiptoed into dreams. I skied across the white frosting of a gigantic birthday cake with lit candles the size of pine trees. I laughed and giggled until a horn went off in the wilderness. I stomped my feet and yelled for it to stop. I woke up to the sound of an incoming fax. I reached over, picked up the paper and turned on the light:
Would like to schedule an interview tomorrow night. Is midnight okay? My driver will pick you up. Dress warm.
To the amazement of the cleaning crew, I left work by 11 that night. I rushed home and changed into my blue wool power suit, assertive but friendly. I opened my laptop and reviewed my list of compensation requirements — short-term and long-term bonus potential, transportation allowance, 401k, stock options, first-dollar medical and dental.
My computer-scheduling program beeped. There was a thud at the door. It was midnight. I put the laptop in my briefcase, grabbed my coffee cup and stepped onto the porch of my condo. On the sidewalk stood 8 reindeer and a shiny, red sleigh, glowing like a hot coal.
“Wow, reindeer,” I said, icicles racing down my extremities.
“Excuse me?” I said, looking around for the source of the voice. The reindeer in front of the pack turned to me.
“I said, ‘Duh,’ lady. What part of ‘Duh’ don’t you understand?”
I dropped my briefcase, coffee spilled over my shoes.
The other reindeer chuckled and stomped their hooves into the ground.
“You must be here to pick me up?” I said foolishly.
“No, lady, we were just in the neighborhood looking for our cousin Rudy and we thought you might be roasting him over an open fire.”
The reindeer laughed, stomped and nudged each other with their antlers. They mumbled parts of the joke: “…just in the neighborhood…open fire…might be roasting…”
I checked my watch, straightened my suit, trying to act businesslike in front of 8 talking reindeer. I reached my hand out to the head reindeer.
“Name’s Bob, ma’am. You have a problem with that?”
“No…uh…Bob is a lovely name…for a talking reindeer.”
“Bob is a lovely name for a talking, flying reindeer, lady. Let’s
I stepped up into the sleigh and grabbed hold of the reins, a feeling of wonder sizzling my skin. The reindeer shuffled their hooves and lifted off, the momentum plastering me to the seat. We rose above the trees, the houses and the high rise office buildings. We flew north, above a quilt of clouds, the stars blinding me like flashbulbs. Bob told stories while the reindeer joked and sang. I held on, the wind biting my face, spinning my hair into steel wool.
As we began our descent, the greens and reds of the Northern Lights danced in my head like a cartoon. We landed in the middle of the light show, on a snowed-in runway with a barely visible sign that read:
WELCOME TO THE NORTH POLE