It’s a wonderful time of year, and I started thinking about the pragmatics.
by Jason Gibbs
“Right, we’re all here, let’s get started, point one…” said Vix sharply.
“But the old man…” interrupted Dash.
“Will be here in fifteen minutes, I felt we needed a…”
“Pre-meeting,” supplied Dan.
“Yes, a pre-meeting. We need to be clear, otherwise you know how he is, he’ll be talking about the old days and we’ll be buried in anecdotes,” Vix continued.
“Fair. He always likes to tell the one about how they used to have really bad fogs in the old days, and that they struggled to get through…” added Donna.
“Exactly, now can we please concentrate, otherwise we won’t be prepared.”
They all looked at him. There was apprehension in the room, and Vix knew he needed to get them all gee’d up.
“Now, you know it’s been tough these last few years. More deliveries, larger deliveries, harder locations.”
They all nodded agreement.
“It’s getting to the point where we risk failure. And you know who’s going to get the blame…”
Dash started to say, “Who…”
“Us of course. We do the hard work, but we’re not fast enough, or carry enough, or don’t stop in the right place. The old man, he’s fine, it’s never his fault. It’s all on us.”
“What are you proposing?” asked Blix.
“We pivot. We use outsourcing for the manufacturing and logistics, and we concentrate on the marketing.”
They all looked impressed at the words he was using, and then Rudie, who’d been notably quiet, said, “Vix, what does that mean?”
Vix took a deep breath, and started to explain, “Look, everyone around this stable knows that our customers have been… supplementing… deliveries for years. We’ve tried to keep up, but it just isn’t working. So, what we do is licence out our image, and the customers can pay for the actual products.”
They all looked at him quizzically. The man from the retail consortium had made it sound so easy. It was time to be blunt.
“We get the parents to buy all of the presents, and we just appear on posters and movies.”
They all looked shocked.
“What about the elves…” asked Dash.
“We pension them off. Their roles are moving to China.”
There was a pause, they looked at each other. Then there was some nodding, their shock seemed to be wearing off. And there had always been some bitterness that the elves got to stay in the warm and dry and weren’t flogging their guts out flying all over the world.
“So we get to be… movie stars?” asked Cupid.
Vix knew he had them.
“Yes, and TV, and on posters.”
They all nodded again, Rudie’s antlers scraped the side of his box.
“How is it going to work? Do we just send letters with each delivery this year?” mused Dash.
“I’ve been speaking with some people who work for the various companies which have supplemented our products, and they have some ideas.”
“The toy companies?” Rudie was shocked. They all knew what the old man thought of them.
“And the shops, and the delivery companies. They have an offer. They want to buy everything out, and they’ll manage the outsourcing of the manufacturing, selection and delivery processes. We can concentrate on the marketing, and looking good.”
It all seemed to make sense to the reindeer. And they’d all secretly been dreading this year.
“So what do they call that then?” asked Comet.
“I know,” said Santa, standing in the stable’s doorway, and not looking very jolly, “it’s called Asset Stripping.”