Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Secret Santa

The scene: a snowy Christmas Eve. An exhausted writer has fallen asleep in the living room, head tucked in, a book on his chest. Suddenly, the writer hears a thundering noise, and wakes up to see a man in a red suit coming out of the chimney!

Damn! What the fuck?

Heh, heh, heh! Marry Christmas!

What? Who are you?

I’m Santa Claus!

Funny, you don't look like him. I mean, you aren't a fat white dude.

Oh, yes, heh, heh, heh! Marry Christmas!

Excuse me, I hate to interrupt, but Santa says, “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!”

Oh, yes. You have to understand, I'm still learning the job. Christmas is not a big holiday in Mumbai.

Uh, where the fuck is Santa Claus?

I am Santa. Actually, sir, his job was downsized in a business process outsourcing move. Isn't my English good?

Santa got outsourced? Get the fuck out of here.

I am not to leave just yet.

No, I meant, what happened to Santa?

Oh, yes. He had his priorities realigned with the good of stockholders. The elves, too. They were costing too much, threatening to strike and such. So they decided to outsource — they get twice the elf quality at half the cost!

And then Santa himself got outsourced?

Management saw what a great job we were doing, so Santa was replaced, too. We are Virtual Ex-Mas in Bangalore. We are the world's leading business process outsourcing company for the holiday season.

No offense, but Santa is a jolly white dude. You know, Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas.

Do not let your inherent racism and cultural bias sway you. There are black Santas, white Santas, Latino Santas. And there are even Indian Santas

True, but I didn't think Christianity had many adherents in India.

Where to look for work

It doesn't. However, Christmas is celebrated in my native land by Christians and non-Christians alike. Plus, I deliver all the toys to the world's homes at a fraction of the cost of your white Santa. Marry Christmas! Heh, heh, heh!

What happened to the elves? What happened to Santa?

Oh, I understand the elves found fulfilling positions at Wal-Mart Stores. Santa, sadly, was fired from his job of pretending to be himself at Macy's Department Store.

I can't believe they outsourced Santa.

Well, it first started when they started buying Santa's red suit from Bangladesh. That meant Mrs. Claus had to find a new job, and I understand now that she's an extremely well-paid adult entertainer living in Los Angeles.

I'm going to vomit.

Her videos are top sellers—there are a lot of people who find Mrs Claus very enjoyable. I do understand she is tested twice a month for disease.

Santa outsourced — how could it happen?

It was a matter of time, Mr. Bookfraud. The sleigh was made in China, the reindeer are from Vietnam, and the candy canes are made in the Philippines.

So what the hell are you doing here?

Let me check my list here…it says, “Bookfraud: naughty, and angry to boot. Plus, he’s a writer. Not even a lump of coal.” Sorry.

Well, I never get anything for Christmas. But can you finish my novel for me?


That was a joke, Santa.

I also have a message for you.

A message?

It reads, "Dear Dr. Bookfraud: given the state of the world economy, and given trends in publishing and literature, you should forsake your quixotic quest of publishing your novel and perhaps focus your energies on more prosaic things, such as watching the Cubs and masturbating."

What the hell does that mean?

It means that all creative pursuits like people trying to write novels in their spare time would be better served by having someone else do it for them.

I don't understand.

Let me put it this way (Isn’t that how you say it?). You Americans are already are losing the literature battle, Mr. Bookfraud. We've got more English-speaking people in India than you have in the United States. And look at how many great novels in English that have come out of India in the past 20, 25 years. It's nothing to snooze at!

Americans want too much money for writing -- why pay an unproven writer a $500,000 advance for a novel when you could outsource it for one-tenth that amount? You should outsource your novel overseas.

But there's a difference between being American or English and writing in English. It's hard to write about life in America if you've never been here.

What are you talking about! We watch "Friends"! We watch "American Idol"! We watch "The Facts of Life"!

Look, Santa, I may lose my regular, 9-to-5 job to somebody in a cubicle farm a million miles away. But you can't replace creativity. You can't make someone a brilliant writer just by paying them.

I don't understand. Everything can be outsourced! Writing is a repetitive, rules-based process that a young man can do on the cheap. It is inevitable, Mr. Bookfraud. There are several best-selling authors who already send their work to us. Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, and all of chick-lit is written in India.

You know, you're right. Go ahead and write all of the fiction for us.

Macy's latest hire mean that?

Yes! Because I don’t get paid for doing this, anyway! Because I have lost several years of my life and mental health in pursuit of writing fiction! Because I would gladly pay for some stranger to get my goddamn life's work in print if I could, if I could also transport all the suffering I've endured for it! Do you know what I'm talking about?

I can understand why you might be upset at losing your job, however—

No! No! It's not that! You can't outsource creativity, you buffoon! Like Einstein said, “If I had not been born, somebody would have discovered relativity, but if Beethoven had not been born, there would have never been a Ninth Symphony.”

Please, do not get hostile because the world's economic forces are turning inevitably against your nation. I must go now. I have to deliver a teddy-bear sweater to somebody named "Dick Cheney."

Fine, do what you have to do. But it’s obvious that your company has a long way to go in this outsourcing Santa Claus deal.

Why is this?

I'm Jewish. And Santa doesn't visit Jews.

Oh. I did not know this. I apologize...uh, may I ask you something?


What's a Jew?