SantaLand Diaries

I WAS in a coffee shop looking through the want ads when I read, “Macy’s Herald Square, the largest store in the world, has big opportunities for outgoing, fun-loving people of all shapes and sizes who want more than just a holiday job! Working as an elf in Macy’s SantaLand means being at the center of the excitement.. “

I circled the ad and then I laughed out loud at the thought of it. The man seated next to me turned on his stool, checking to see if I was a lunatic. I continued to laugh, quietly. Yesterday I applied for a job at UPS. They are hiring drivers’ helpers for the upcoming Christmas season and I went to their headquarters filled with hope. In line with three hundred other men and women my hope diminished. During the brief interview I was asked why I wanted to work for UPS and I answered that I wanted to work for UPS because I like the brown uniforms. What did they expect me to say?

“I’d like to work for UPS because, in my opinion, it’s an opportunity to showcase my substantial leadership skills in one of the finest private delivery companies this country has seen since the Pony Express!”

I said I liked the uniforms and the UPS interviewer turned my application face-down on his desk and said, “Give me a break.”

I came home this afternoon and checked the machine for a message from UPS but the only message I got was from the company that holds my student loan, Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae sounds like a naive and barefoot hillbilly girl but in fact they are a ruthless and aggressive conglomeration of bullies located in a tall brick building somewhere in Kansas. I picture it to be the tallest building in that state and I have decided they hire their employees straight out of prison. It scares me.

The woman at Macy’s asked, “Would you be interested in full-time elf or evening and weekend elf?”

I said, “Full-time elf.”

I have an appointment next Wednesday at noon.

I am a thirty-three-year-old man applying for a job as an elf.

I often see people on the streets dressed as objects and handing out leaflets. I tend to avoid leaflets but it breaks my heart to see a grown man dressed as a taco. So, if there is a costume involved, I tend not only to accept the leaflet, but to accept it graciously, saying, “Thank you so much,” and thinking, “You poor, pathetic son of a bitch. I don’t know what you have but I hope I never catch it.” This afternoon on Lexington Avenue I accepted a leaflet from a man dressed as a camcorder. Hot dogs, peanuts, tacos, video cameras, these things make me sad because they don’t fit in on the streets. In a parade, maybe, but not on the streets. I figure that at least as an elf I will have a place; I’ll be in Santa’s Village with all the other elves. We will reside in a fluffy wonderland surrounded by candy canes and gingerbread shacks. It won’t be quite as sad as standing on some street corner dressed as a french fry.

I am trying to look on the bright side. I arrived in New York three weeks ago with high hopes, hopes that have been challenged. In my imagination I’d go straight from Penn Station to the offices of “One Life to Live,” where I would drop off my bags and spruce up before heading off for drinks with Cord Roberts and Victoria Buchannon, the show’s greatest stars. We’d sit in a plush booth at a tony cocktail lounge where my new celebrity friends would lift their frosty glasses in my direction and say, “A toast to David Sedaris, the best writer this show has ever had!!!”

I’d say, “You guys, cut it out.” It was my plan to act modest.

People at surrounding tables would stare at us, whispering, “Isn’t that

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