Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Santa and the Wall of Eyeballs

Twenty-five years ago I was Santa Claus at North Hills Mall in Raleigh on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Friday started out as a Perfect Workday…hey…think about it…I’m Santa Claus!!

Smiling kids and parents. Not too many criers (kids or parents). A steady stream from about 9 am until 1pm, then half an hour for lunch…the sign “Santa is Having a Snack” in front of the throne.

After lunch on Friday the mood started to change. More tired kids and parents, more criers, more “I WANT THIS!!”

There was a noticeable deterioration of discipline and simple civility. After a snack for dinner I remember smelling alcohol on the breath of some of the parents as they were putting their kids on my lap.

Saturday was a free-for-all from the get-go. A long line as soon as I walked up to the throne, too many people around mid-day for lunch (and try eating a snack and drinking a Coke through the beard), more teenage girls and grown moms who wanted to sit on Santa’s lap for a photo (OK, some of it wasn’t all that bad). And an increase in beard pulling as the day went on.

The one thing I was conscious of for two solid days was eyes. The eyes of the kids and parents that were locked onto me from the instant they saw that Santa was present.

So, I was very careful not to snap at kids…or parents, not to make sudden movements, not to do anything that might lessen the experience of being around Santa.

I mean, the last thing you want is some kid to grow up and get cornered on the top of the Bank of America building with a high-powered rifle and the last thing he says before the cops take him out is, “All this would have never happened if I hadn’t heard Santa use a cuss word.”

Now, what does all this have to do with having a Perfect Workday?

Would you act or react differently during your day if you knew children were watching? Especially, your children?
The economic news is going to get worse before it gets better. The economy will continue to recede for months before it regains its footing and starts the inevitable climb back up. The stress caused by less “geedus” (money), as my father used to say, will make people act in ways they might not normally act.

If we, they, you and I, act as if we know our children are watching, then I believe we will act in ways that show our young people positive and honorable ways to face challenges.

Showing our young people how to have Perfect Workdays during good times is easy; doing it in tough times is what really matters.
Thursday and Friday are holidays, so I’ll see you on Monday.

Take a moment on Thursday to do two things: Say a prayer for Americans in and out of uniform, around the world, who make it possible for us to have a wonderful, safe holiday. Then, write down three things and/or people for which/whom you have to be thankful.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

And Go Tar Heels! Beat Duke!

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