Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Here's a video from when Santa visited Kathie Lee and Hoda at the Today Show.

Shortcake is back at the North Pole. Santa successfully made his trip last night (as you know if you woke up this morning to presents under the tree). Everyone at the North Pole spent the day napping and eating, and we are all very pleased with the way the Christmas season turned out.

The last two days at Macy's were busy. It was a steady line all day, both days. Shortcake spent a lot of time back in HR or on the Front Line with the headset. She started to lose her patience on Christmas Eve Eve. She asked to be moved from the front of the train (where people take photos and hold up the line) because she was about to start snapping at people, so she moved to Stroller Alley. Which was only mildly better. Shortcake would have moved to HR if it had been open. In HR you can be sassy, but people think it's funny. Because they're in HR.

People got a little testy on Christmas Eve, especially when the line was 2 hours long, and we closed the line at 4pm (just like we had advertised we would). People were not accepting of this fact. So Big Burly Security Man came up and stood next to Shortcake to help her out. Kate, the head of Santaland for Macy's (Santa is in charge of the North Pole section) made the decision that anyone who was about to get in line just after 4pm would be escorted to the Puppet Theatre (now empty, since the last puppet theater show was at 2:15pm) and they could wait to see if there was time for Santa to see them before he left the building at 6:00pm (to get back to the North Pole, don'tcha know). The kids were given coloring books, and Santa stopped by for a brief visit, and everyone was much happier, including the woman who flew in from England with her new baby.

To end the season, here's David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries" as read by the author on "This American Life." It's Shortcake's dad's favorite holiday story, particularly the part where David Sedaris sings "Away in a Manger" as Billie Holliday. It's on youtube, so it's in 4 parts. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

And here's a holiday Calvin & Hobbes.

Pictures below. Happy Christmas to all! Shortcake will be back next year.

This is Sequin manning the door by the Welcome Kiosk.
This is what Shortcake and Teddy Bear looked like most of the season: on headset, mocking each other.
Klondike the elf came down from the North Pole to help out on the last day.
Pippin emptied the Make-A-Wish Wishing Well, in order to take the money to the Vault.
All the stanchions were put away for the season.
Macy's gave the elves super-awesome Santaland hats. Shortcake and Sequin model them:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


It was the last Rockstar Wednesday. Sad face. It was also manager Frank’s last day, and the last time he would schedule us. And the last time we got to tease him about being single, but in a relationship, and that relationship is perfectly fine, if you were wondering.

Shortcake was Gatekeeper. Again. For the third day in a row. Bizarre. The six Usher elves were rockstars (obviously) and played a game called “pretend to be other usher elves.” Which was hilarious.

After a mere 1 hour, 45 minutes (and many school groups), Shortcake was sent on break and then sent to the Front Line to relieve Teddy Bear on headset. Obviously. There is a method to the scheduling. It was fairly quiet. When a whole bunch of school groups showed up we went into the back hallway briefly, but were back into stroller alley within a half hour. And we never went back to the back hallway while Shortcake was on duty. She was sent to lunch at 12:15 – freakishly early. Lunch also involved a nap. After which she was sent back to the Front Line. On headset. And then sent for a break at 3:00pm.

Here’s the fun part of the day. Shortcake got to help out with a proposal. A United States Navy man wanted to propose to his girlfriend, so he called ahead and asked for help from Santa. He had his family accompany himself and his girlfriend to see Santa. He asked Frank (the manager) to sneak his future in-laws in through the back so they could watch and surprise the girlfriend. Shortcake was in charge of escorting the in-laws through the back of Santaland. And then she and Frank got to watch through the Peek window while he proposed, and she accepted, and she cried, and everyone in both families freaked out. And his nieces and nephews took pictures with Santa.

And then Shortcake was sent to the Front Line with Teddy Bear, once again manning the headset. The line started to pick up around 4:15pm – probly schools getting out and then parents taking kids to see Santa since it is only 3 days until Christmas.

2 more days. Elves are starting to say their good-byes as they head back to the North Pole. Both Fa La La and Figgy had their last days. Shortcake and a few of the other Rockstar elves are going to be at Macy’s to the bitter end. And the next two days could well be bitter, depending on how panicked the parents become.

And, no, Shortcake does not care that you want the Peek window open. Yes, you have to stand in line if you just want to see Santa without “seeing” Santa. Actually, 40 minutes is a pretty short line considering it moves quickly; it’s 3 days before Christmas, and you’re the one who procrastinated seeing the man in red. No sympathy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tired Tuesday

Shortcake started the day as Gatekeeper. Two days in a row not on the front line? What's going on? It was a steady day, but it never reached the back hallway. There was one man who came barreling through the maze. Shortcake had to check him with her arm, literally stopping him in his tracks. There were six Usher elves surrounding her, giving her backup and she explained that his wife and child would find him again at the exit. He was very agitated. Shortcake beckoned with her eyes for backup from the manager waiting just around the corner. Later, the man came through the maze, with wife and child, and he was much calmer.

Here's the deal. Stay with your family inside the maze. When you get to the Gatekeeper tell the elf how many are in the party -TOTAL. Not just the kids. Adults, kids, babies, everybody. And make sure everyone who should be with you is with you. The elves are not responsible if you misplace your husband. And you will be bodychecked if you try to get into the Village without an elf escort.

After a short break, Shortcake went to the front line to pick up the headset from Teddy Bear. Which is par for the course. The line was nice and steady, although there were a lot of elves without a voice. Happy was miming everything (no voice at all), but he was remarkably talented at it. He had more Christmas spirit than anyone else on the front line, and he was effective at answering questions, despite being unable to talk.

After lunch Shortcake went to Photo for a whopping 30 minutes. She had good families, and Moonbeam was her Santa elf. Moonbeam, Santa and Shortcake made a great team.

Oh! The buttons are out! We ran out of buttons! We are now passing out crayons and coloring books! AH!

Anyway, Shortcake went to a special event with Santa on the 16th floor. There was a Christmas party for Macy's corporate employees, and Santa was there for pictures. Shortcake held drinks and coats and purses and made sure Santa was able to go back to the kids at 4pm.

Shortcake went to the office after the event and colored a Tom the Turkey (from the aforementioned coloring book) with a blue pen (and only a blue pen - Frank would not hand Shortcake the red pen because it "was too far away." Humph.). She did a Special visit, and went back to coloring. Perhaps Shortcake should have been sent back to work, but the 4:30pm elves were about to come in and relieve the day shift, so Shortcake would have only worked about 10-20 minutes anyway. So she clocked out and went in search of Christmas presents. Because there are only 4 days until Christmas and waiting until Christmas Eve is not advised.

Okay, you need to go watch Prep and Landing right now. Now. No, not in 5 minutes. Now. It's only 30 minutes long. It's on Hulu. And it's amazing. You will laugh and almost cry. Shortcake just watched it twice.

Monday, December 20, 2010

For Aiden Thomas

Shortcake went on a special event today. (She also worked Gatekeeper and at the Map - stumped on the Republic of Georgia and Djibouti briefly.) The event was assisting Santa as he visited kids in the pediatric section and pediatric ICU in NYU's hospital. Santa delivered gifts and said hello to the kids. Because of the risk of infection, in some rooms Santa could only stand in the doorway and wave, but there were some kids he could high five and go in and talk to. Armani was the first boy we saw. He had said just the day before that he didn't believe in Santa (at 6 years old!), but the appearance of Santa in the hospital may have changed his mind. Armani got some cool gifts, but the best was definitely the collection of Where's Waldo? books.

There was little boy, Frankie, in the ICU who had a reindeer mask in front of his face when Santa entered the room. He was the most excited boy we saw, and he ripped into his gifts. Another boy, Dylan, was probably a year old, and he just looked at Santa with awe on his face.

There were a lot of babies that Santa visited, most sleeping. They got presents too, and Santa took pictures with them as they slept. He wasn't able to hold them, so he stood by their bed. As Santa visited the babies, Shortcake thought about her friends who had a baby just over 6 years ago. Aiden Thomas lived a short life and spent most of it in the infant special care unit. Aiden didn't get to see Christmas, and Santa didn't get to visit him. Aiden has a little brother, now 2 1/2 years old, who has definitely seen Santa. But standing in the pediatric ICU reminded Shortcake of Aiden. She just wants to say that Aiden is not forgotten, by the elves or Santa.

Last Sunday

It was the last Sunday before Christmas. There was a line before we opened. Shortcake started on headset, adjusted some stantions, and we were off. Dulce stopped by to say hi. She's been staying at the North Pole for the last two years, so it was great to see her again. The line actually didn't explode until 9am. And it went to women's coats. After about 3 hours of Shortcake trying to shout with a bad voice, managing the incoming people, directing people to the new end of the line in women's coats, answering questions, staying updated on the wait time, and making sure people fill in the corners thus keeping the front line tight, Jangles relieved Shortcake for a 10 minute break.

Then Shortcake went to Crossroads to relieve Teddy Bear on headset. She and Gingerbread rocked Crossroads, but it's all about stopping people from entering the exit, keeping the line moving, letting people exit, answering questions, and letting people rejoin their peoples already in line. Remember 2 years ago when Crossroads was manned by 3 people instead of 2? And someone wanted to bring a dog to see Santa. Which, of course, you can't do.

After lunch, which was a short 45 minutes, Shortcake headed out to HR to relieve Teddy Bear on headset. Why, yes, Shortcake did spend the entire day on headset. She also spent the day going through a bag of cough drops. But she almost had a voice by the end.

Shortcake stayed in HR until 5:40pm, which is 40 minutes after her shift ended. She was relieved by Cider. The funny thing about HR is that it's a constant flow of people in 2 directions, but the people coming at you are in shock at how far back they have to go. The people leaving can be cheered up because they're past the turnaround point. The people coming at you have a tendency to say things like "You're kidding me!" or "You're not serious!" To which Shortcake replied "No, I'm not kidding you" or "Yes, I am serious. Turn left and stay to the right." Because it's not Shortcake's fault you got into line on a Sunday afternoon the weekend before Christmas and it's her job to keep the line moving. Some people appreciated her mild sass. People appreciated more that she did not sing the Turn Around song, and that she had not yet invented the "To the right" song. They were excited to know that they would only see her twice and then never again because going back down the elevator hallway makes everything old new again.

And just at the end of Shortcake's shift, her friends Katie, Aurora and Elizabeth arrived in HR. So Shortcake clocked out and joined them on line (Ah - no! That's a New Yorkism. In line! In line!) and they got a personal elf escort through the line and Santaland. No skipping ahead, Shortcake and her friends waited the full 2 hours and took their photo with Santa.

Saturday Special Event

Saturday is supposed to be Shortcake's day off. Well. Instead, it was the first of seven in a row up to Christmas. And it was the day after the epic Elf Holiday Party thrown by Bobble and Merriment. Shortcake participated in a dance party and ate a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream at said party. Needless to say, Shortcake was glad she went to work at noon and not 7:30am like the other elves. And, of course, it was the last Saturday before Christmas, so the line was in women's coats practically all day.

Anyway, Shortcake went to the New York Police Dept. Manhattan South Task Force's holiday party with Santa. There was a mix-up on where his car was picking him up - 35th street vs. 34th street, but the car was found and Shortcake and Santa drove through Manhattan in a police van. Like the superstars they are.

Santa handed out gifts to the kids while Shortcake handed out giftbags. Santa took a lot of photos, including one with an officer from the K-9 unit. Shortcake felt bad for the magician who was performing when Santa arrived. With Santa in the room, it was quite a distraction for the kids watching the magic show, but the magician didn't seem to mind too much.

As a thank you, Shortcake and Santa received an NYPD PBA (policeman's benevolent association) card. It's basically a "get out of a ticket" card. It's kinda awesome to have, although, since Shortcake is good all year round, she won't be needing it. Hopefully.

After the event, Shortcake and Santa headed back to Macy's. Shortcake volunteered to help out on the line since she had 2 1/2 hours before she needed to go to the Yule Ball. She ended up at the Switch, urging people to fill in the empty spaces, cover up the ugly grey cement floor (really, they could have at least painted the floor red or green), and generally tried to keep spirits up. Of course, but this point in time Shortcake's voice was shot, and she was running low on cough drops. After two hours she was sprung free, and headed to the Yule Ball where she caught Draco & the Malfoys and Harry & the Potters singing songs about Christmas. There was a bubble machine. It was awesome.

New York Times

Detailed posts for the last three days are coming soon (involving 2 special events and some pictures), but in the meantime here's an article about Santa in the New York Times complete with a video. Shortcake is not in the video or article, but her friends Bobble, Figgy, Pippin, Hot Chocolate and Fuzzy Mittens are. And, of course, Santa.

Friday, December 17, 2010

School Group Thursday

Turns out, when you're losing your voice, maybe you shouldn't karaoke in a loud bar until 1am.

Shortcake's voice was not in great shape Thursday morning. Obviously, that meant she was sent to the Front Line. On headset.
It was a normal, slow morning until the school groups showed up. We ended up in the back hallway through Crossroads.

Oh, the stanchions weren't set up this morning. And they weren't close to the set up either. Teddy Bear, Shortcake and Pip had to set up the entire front line and stroller alley while people were in line for Santa. At 8:50am. 'Cause that's fun. The manager thinks they had polished the floors, and that's why the stanchions were moved. Bah. Humbug.

Oh, and Good Morning, America was with Santa early, early in the morning. Shortcake was not involved and can't find any of the video online, but maybe you're better at Googling things. Sam Champion was with Santa, and it was Dec. 16, 2010. Go!

Shortcake went to Photo after lunch. More school groups. There was a group of 13 adults, all of whom wanted to be in the Photo, and Shortcake did a pretty good job of fitting them all in and making them look good, if she says so herself. There was also a woman with peacock hair. No, really. She had styled her hair to look like a peacock, complete with different hair dye and everything. Shortcake didn't get a picture, but the woman took one with Santa.

Because we were so busy with all the school groups, Shortcake was asked to take a short lunch, and she went right back out to the Front Line, on headset. The line died down around 3pm, but it was still a 30 min. wait. Which is short. If you were wondering, 30 min. is nothing compared to 3 hours on the weekends. We were a little overstaffed out front (5 elves for a 30 min. wait is a tad excessive), so Shortcake took it easy on her voice, answering questions, manning the headset and generally letting the other elves tighten the corners. Teddy Bear was on headset at the Main Exit, so he and Shortcake had fun over the headset. Time outs may have been threatened.

There were 4 lost children within the 2 hours Shortcake was on headset in the afternoon. FOUR. One was from Brazil in gift wrap. One was a girl at the exit. And two, TWO, were from the same daycare. One was separated at the trains and reunited with his group at the exit. His mom was in the group, and didn't notice her child was missing. How do you not notice your child is not sitting in front of Santa with the other kids? The second boy was found wandering in front of Santaland. Managers called the cell phone number on his nametag, and it went to voice mail. Macy's security came up and took custody of the child, hopefully (eventually) returning him to his parents. The poor little boy was so scared and shy he wouldn't talk. He just stayed by Fuzzy Mittens and nodded his head if people asked questions.

On a completely different note, global warming came to the Village this last week. It was hot in there. Santa was hot. The air conditioning wouldn't come on, and the managers called about 8 times throughout the day. Ice water is your friend.

Shortcake will be back Saturday (hopefully) to talk about the special event she's working with Santa.

Rockstar Wednesday!

ROCKSTAR WEDNESDAY! We only had the best 8:30 morning check-in ever with the manager. He managed to take attendance using only elf names, and possibly shared too much information about his personal, after dropping his clipboard.

Shortcake had requested not to be on the front line headset because she was losing her voice. (Worry not. She is not sick. This happens every year.) So she was sent to Welcome Kiosk. Sad face. She had fun, welcoming visitors to the North Pole and telling them not to feed the penguins. (As a reader pointed out, penguins reside at the South Pole. These penguins are just visiting, but they do have a special diet. They can't eat North Pole fish without getting very sick, so South Pole fish has to be imported.)

After an early break (well, earlier than usual), Shortcake was sent to Main Exit, which is actually a great position if you have no voice.

After lunch, Shortcake went to the Front Line with Teddy Bear. She was not on headset, which meant she was free to play around. She had a giant candy cane lollipop and a balloon sword. (We think it was a sword. It was a surprisingly phallic balloon that could have been any number of things.) She engaged in a mock balloon swordfight with another child who had a balloon sword. She read "Yes Virginia" (a children's book for sale in Macy's) aloud to the people shopping.

Shortcake got off early, since she was losing her voice, was very tired, and had picked up extra hours on Monday. A few minutes after she went to change, her friends Martha & Chuck came to visit. Shortcake went with them to see Santa, and they took a photo. Shortcake sat on the magic box.

LATER THAT NIGHT: Rockstar Wednesday met up at Dinosaur BBQ for some karaoke and delicious BBQ. Winterland ROCKED "Waterfalls" by TLC (did you know he had the rap memorized?).
We all (Shortcake, Bobble, Merriment, Winterland, Figgy, Rhubarb, Starshine, Sprinkles, Periwinkle, Fuzzy Mittens) sang Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is You." Santa rapped and busted out an old school 80's song, which required dancing the electric slide. Obviously. And it was awesome. Bobble and Fuzzy Mittens sang "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Between songs, the elves had a dance party in the middle of the bar.

Here are photos. Now, don't be alarmed that we are not dressed as elves. Santa sent us on this mission to "act like humans" and check up on the big kids and make sure they were still on the nice list. Clearly, we had to go undercover and blend in. Hence, the "human" clothes.
Fuzzy Mittens, Bobble and Merriment.

Starshine, Figgy, Shortcake and Periwinkle

Tuesday is almost Wednesday

Tuesday was a slow day. There were the usual school groups in the morning, but other than that, the line stayed pretty short. Shortcake worked the Front Line and met Olivia. Olivia was a very talkative little girl. She was wearing a dress with a print on it, and she knew exactly which animal print it was (leopard). Later, she went back to tell Shortcake everything she had asked for from Santa. And the third time she saw Shortcake, she was riding in her stroller. Her mom was just going to wave and continue going, but Olivia put her feet down, stopped the stroller, and ran to Shortcake to show her the toys she had just bought.

There is something kinda great about kids stopping their parents in mid-stride to show toys to elves.

Everett, Forrest and Miles also visited Santa that day. They were 3 brothers from Tokyo, visiting with their mother and grandparents. Everett was slightly talkative. Forrest liked the trains. Miles refused to wake up.

There was a pirate in the line. Well, there was a little boy wearing a pirate sweater. Shortcake called Security, since she could only assume it was the Dread Pirate Roberts. But he made it through the maze anyway, and she saw him again at the exit, again calling for Security. Security did not respond quickly enough, and he got away.

There were two boys, clearly brothers or cousins or old friends, pretend fighting in line. They had their hands on the others' shoulders and were kicking each others' feet. Shortcake simply said "Hey" loudly, and they immediately dropped their arms and looked at her. She said "Santa's watching," just menacingly enough to make it clear that fighting in line, however friendly, would not be tolerated. And the boys immediately came to and behaved themselves. Shortcake didn't realize she had that kind of power over 8 year old boys.

There was a camera crew (from the NY Times?) while Shortcake was Gatekeeper, so, in theory, she may be in some press photos/video. If she can find them, she will post them.

Monday, Longer Than Planned

Monday rolled around, and it was cold. No, really, cold. Outside, the North Pole weather had followed Santa to NYC. Inside, Macy's turned on the heat. Heat is not good for Santa. The man wears a lot of layers and sits under hot lights all day, and, a hot Santa is a miserable Santa which leads to a sad Shortcake.

It was a busy Monday. The line never completely disappeared, but didn't go past stroller alley. Haha! There was a rumor that some schools had parent/teacher conferences, which would explain why so many kids came to see Santa. There were a few more times when the Village had to be shut down due to the super-long photo line at the register. The register elves are short-staffed. Clearly.

After her shift, Shortcake accompanied Santa to a special event. He went to a party for New York Women in Film & Television. Santa took photos with the women. Shortcake held the cameras. She was asked by one woman "Are you an elf or a child?" Look. Shortcake is short, but she's not that short. She's an elf. Obviously. Another woman asked Shortcake to get her a glass of red wine. Shortcake pointed her to the bartender, and went back to assisting Santa.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just another rainy Sunday

Shortcake was very busy this last week, which is why the blog was not updated. But she has tomorrow off (sort of), and made notes to herself, so she would be able to remember everything she wanted to tell her faithful readers. And that sentence had a lot of conjunctions in it.

Sunday was rainy. Shortcake doesn't work Fridays or Saturdays (usually), so she came in Sunday expecting it to be a busy day, as befitted the second Sunday in December. And then she found out the Saturday the day before had been awful for all elves involved. The line was 3 hours long. It was in women's coats. Elves took half hour lunches. Macy's got cranky. (Macy's always gets cranky when the line is in women's coats - not that there's much we can do about it. If that many people show up and stand in line, then they have to stand somewhere.) And Shortcake felt awful, not that she had a day off, but that she wasn't there to help out. Anyway. The store, managers, and elves prepared for a similar day on Saturday, but the line was never longer than an hour. Perhaps the rain kept people away? It was a rainy, almost warm, day. (And then Shortcake ran 7.7 miles in the cold in the rain. She had asked for a clear day from 4pm-6pm. Clearly, she should have specified time zone, since she got 4pm-5pm.)

Other things that happened Sunday: The stanchions had to be re-set up.

There were a few instances when the Village had to be shut down because the registers couldn't keep up with the photo line. It doesn't seem like a long photo line at the registers would shut down the Village, but because of the layout of Santaland, it does. Trust Shortcake. So, she was sent to Village Exit to keep that line down. And Shortcake rocked it. Shortcake can always rock Village Exit. She may not have been the most polite elf ("Please" doesn't enter the vocabulary often, unfortunately.), but she kept the line down.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

For KK

Sometimes you learn things you maybe didn't want to know. Sometimes, 2 & 2 that used to add up to 4 now add to an entirely new 4. And that's okay.

Here's the text of a very famous letter to a girl named Virginia O'Hanlon about this very topic. Read it while listening to this song, and it sums up everything Shortcake believes about the Christmas Spirit.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Main Exit/Santa/Front Line/Main Exit

Shortcake sounds like a jazz singer, particularly in the morning. This is a natural occurrence and happens every holiday season. It's right on schedule with appearing in week 2. Luckily, it has not manifested into a cold yet (knock on wood), and Shortcake is able to keep the coughing at bay by sucking on an inordinate amount of cough drops throughout the day.

Shortcake came in this morning and discovered all of the stanchions had been moved from the front line. She and Teddy Bear spent 30 minutes setting them back up, and then Shortcake went to work on Strolley Alley and the Parade Hallway. Here's the deal. You don't mess with Santa; you don't mess with the elves and you do NOT rearrange the stanchions. Shortcake will find you. And then punish you by making you crowd captain when 15 school groups show up, all at the same time, and the line goes from nothing to halfway down Stroller Alley in 5 minutes.

Because of her gravelly voice, Shortcake was thankful for a slow day at stations that didn't require much talking. She met some characters though.

There is a man who has two baby dolls - one boy, one girl - to which he added fangs and horns. He brings them to see Santa every year. Today, the girl doll came through, and he stopped to talk to Shortcake for a bit.

An actor Shortcake met in November came through the line with his daughter. He recognized Shortcake's face, but he couldn't quite place her out of context. His daughter refused to wear shoes before seeing Santa, and afterwards, was only wearing one shoe. It was very fashion forward.

There were two boys, Drew and Michael, who were brothers. Drew was very talkative, telling Shortcake that he was with his brother Michael, his gran, his great gran, his mom, his dad and his grandpa. Michael was also chatty, but he could barely get a word in edgewise around his big brother.

Katie and Bella and Penelope were wearing matching dresses. Katie was quite talkative, and Bella refused to acknowledge that Penelope was her sister.

Alex and Brandon were brothers who came to see Santa, going through the line twice. (This happens often, particularly when the line is short. Boys like to go through again to look at the train display again.) Brandon would talk to Shortcake, but Alex wouldn't say a word. He did spell out the alphabet by writing letters in the air. He made it up to the letter "R" (which he mixed up), and then spelled his own name. And he was only 3.

Miranda was a little girl (wearing a purple flannel shirt - awesome) who decided to cling to Shortcake's leg while she was at the main exit. Apparently, Miranda was afraid of Santa, but she clearly wasn't afraid of strangers, since she walked right to Shortcake, hugged her leg, hid behind her, and had to be pried off by her father.

Hunter was a 6-year-old boy who came to see Santa with his parents. It was his dad's birthday, but Hunter didn't sing "Happy Birthday" for his dad. Instead they were going to go out to dinner and then to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. (By the by, how is "roomette" in the spellcheck, but not "rockette?" What is a "roomette" anyway? Oh. It's a sleeper car on a train. Thank you Wikipedia.)

There was a girl wearing a pink chiffon dress who did ballet with Shortcake while waiting in line. The girl had mastered first position but needed work on second and fifth.

There was an 8 year old who was wearing his coat over his head. Literally over it, covering half his face. When Shortcake called him on it, he then proceeded to hide his whole face, then hid behind his mother and tried to avoid being seen. Meanwhile his 11 year old brother was completely underwhelmed by the Santaland experience and couldn't even muster excitement to talk about the Rockettes show they had seen before coming to see Santa. They were the underwhelmed family.

There was a baby dressed in a zebra outfit. Sprocket and Shortcake called out for animal control fearing zebras were loose in the store. (It was funny to the mom.)

Because it was so cold and dry today (a wind chill in NYC around 20 degrees F - that's below 0 for you Celsius people), static electricity was rampant. Kids would take off their coats and hats and look like they had just been touched by electricity. Hairs were standing up all over the place.

There were three boys who, while waiting near the registers, decided to lie flat on the floor, on their stomachs, spread-eagled. And then one of the boys started turning. Shortcake turned around happened to spot the boy in the middle of this hilarity.

The best part of the day was the contingent of dads waiting by the main exit. They didn't want to wait in Santaland for their families to come out, so they waited in women's coats. And they were there for a good half hour, at least. Now, when Shortcake works the main exit, she says good-bye to the folks leaving Santaland, gives them directions to the bathrooms, elevators, ornaments, puppet theater, while simultaneously acting as a bouncer for the people mistakenly thinking the exit is an entrance. So the dad's started doing the bouncer job for Shortcake. Families would head toward the exit, and a dad would go "Uh-uh. Wrong way. That's the exit." Another family would ask for the bathroom and a dad would say "7th floor." They didn't have to help out; they just did it because. It kinda felt like the spirit of Christmas, right there in the women's coat section of Macy's.

Here's a short story about department store Santas that showed up in Shortcake's RSS feed.

In a completely different vein, there was a comment sent to Shortcake correcting her about the nature of the Immaculate Conception. You can read the Wikipedia article here, but the gist is that Mary was conceived the old fashioned way (turns out St. Anne did get to have some fun) and born without the stain of original sin. The Annunciation to Mary is when Gabriel showed up and told her she was pregnant with Jesus despite being a virgin. You can read about it here. Shortcake just learned that it is celebrated in March, 9 months before Christmas, which makes so much more sense than celebrating it 17 days before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Hello friends. The Catholics out there know that Dec. 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (aka "All of the responsibility and none of the fun"). The Catholic schools take the day off, which means that a lot of Catholic kids come to Santaland on a weekday, and it's busier than usual. Also, there were many school groups.

There was a line to get in at 8:35am. Santaland opens at 9am. Shortcake went right to work on the Front line, wearing the headset, and stayed there for awhile. She manned the line while it was slow, and when it got long (around 10am). It became so long, we went to Crossroads, and it was all the way back Parade Hallway (think Sunday proportions). It wasn't a long line, time-wise, but it was long, distance-wise, simply because school groups take up more space, but not more time than a regular visit.

After a short break, Shortcake was sent to Crossroads, which turned into Parade hallway, which turned into Main exit, where she stayed until she was sent to Usher. By this point in time, Shortcake had crashed again, despite a snack on her previous break. Lunch was invigorating. Turns out food will give you energy, along with conversations about Disney villains, terrible teen movies, Zac Efron's bangs, and a Mulan sing-a-long starring Pip and Figgy.

Shrotcake went back to Ushering, much revived, and met a New York sports fan. He liked the Giants and the Rangers, but he was most emphatic about the Yankees. At which point in time Shortcake stopped being friends with him. Shortcake is a Cubs fan, and it is just not fair that the Yankees have 28 World Series Championships, and the Cubs have not won in 102 years. Really, 28 is just showing off.

After a mere 45 minutes of Ushering, Shortcake was sent on another 10 minute break. At which point in time she was sent to Gatekeeper, which she rocked for only 30 minutes, and was then sent to the Front line. It felt like the managers didn't want Shortcake to work the last two hours of her shift since they kept moving her around.

Mullet Tuesday?

So there was a second little boy with what appeared to be a mullet today. Turns out it wasn't a mullet. He just had long hair, and his parents had slicked his hair back.

Shortcake started the day as Gatekeeper, and it was slow. Fa La La was at the snowglobe, and he may have gone a little crazy trying to entertain himself. He was given a jingle bell necklace, so he invented a game where he put his hands behind his back and hit the bell from shoulder to shoulder just by moving his torso. This was "really fun." Picture the jingle bell/shoulder equivalent of Ball in a Cup, and you have an idea of how much fun this game was. Then Fa La La played with some of the toys, climbed over some boxes, and laid on the railing. Shortcake turned her back for a second, and when she turned back he had disappeared. He reappeared from behind a Christmas tree, after his disembodied voice called out "I was looking for tinsel to wrap around my body." He then proceeded to take multi-colored metal streamer ornaments off the tree and put them under his hat, so they looked like metallic, shiny pigtails a la Pippi Longstocking.

The Usher elves basically entertained themselves by gossiping about Santaland. After about 2 1/2 hours of that, Shortcake went on a break and then went to the Front line. It was a little long since there were a lot of school groups. Shortcake crashed around noon, but got her second wind, which was good since lunch wasn't until 2pm. After lunch Shortcake Ushered, and ran into a tree about 5 times because Ushering involves running backwards. She teased Pip a lot, and Pip jumped out and scared her groups while Shortcake brought them to Santa. Teddy Bear was in the house; and it was nice to see Teddy Bear not on the front line.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Tick Loves Santa

It's in 2 parts on YouTube. If you like The Tick and Santa, here's a combination.

Part 1

Part 2

Mullet Monday

Shortcake was on the front line for the first half of the day. There was a line before Santaland opened, and right after it opened, the managers realized some lights were out. So Shortcake had to hold the line until 9:30, when the lights could be fixed and people could be let in. The line started to pick up around 10am, and it was a steady 20-30 min. wait until 12:30pm when it finally disappeared.

The New York Times came by to take a photo of Santa. A camera crew spent the morning following Spritz around and watching Santa. Apparently, they were supposed to do a news story on a followup to The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris.

Shortcake saw a blond boy with a mullet. But it wasn't well-cared for. It reminded Shortcake a lot of the years that her brother decided to have a rat tail, just because everyone else wanted him to cut it off.

After lunch Shortcake was Gatekeeper, which went quickly. Gatekeeper is the most physically demanding position because one arm must always be kept behind the back. This sounds easy, but leave your arm behind your back without moving it for an hour and half. It starts to hurt. Then Shortcake was sent to usher, which was fun. She was working with lots of good elves: Bobble, Shortcake, Figgy, Silver Mist, Sparkles, Happy, Snowglobe, etc.

Another strawboss agreed on the need for an International Strawboss Sign Language.

After her shift, Shortcake proceeded to geek out in the locker room with Figgy and Frostbite. They posited that Santa could, indeed, be a Time Lord whose TARDIS was in the shape of a sleigh. And since the TARDIS is a time machine, that's how he visits all the children in one night. And Mrs. Clause is his companion. And if Santa doesn't always look the same from year to year it's because he regenerated.

This came out of a conversation about Wizard Rock (Shortcake is attending the New York Yule Ball featuring Harry and the Potters and Draco and the Malfoys) which led to a conversation about T-Rock (about Doctor Who), and the geek level in the locker room reached epic proportions. It was possibly uncontainable.

Happy St. Nicholas Day! Shortcake gave M&Ms to her fellow elves, managers and Santa. Bobble brought in cookies. She received some earrings, the book The Littlest Angel, some running gear, and an ornament for her tree.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Crowd Control

The store opened at 9am today. There was an hour wait to see Santa by 9:20am. Shortcake started on the front line and within 5 minutes was at Crossroads. 5 minutes later she was at the bank in Parade hallway. 30 minutes later she was in HR, manning the back of the elevator hallway and the HR banks (when necessary). She stayed there until lunch. After lunch she was at Crossroads for 30 minutes, then went to the Front Line, with headset, and stayed there until 4:30 (staying an extra half hour past her shift). By the end of the day, the line was down to about a 45 min. wait. But still.

Here's the deal people. An hour wait is normal for a weekend. If you can't handle waiting an hour, don't come on Saturday or Sunday. There is no shorter wait time if you come late at night or early in the morning. Weekends have long waits. Period. There were some people who couldn't handle the wait. And there were some people who said "This is short! Last year we went all through the HR bank and around in a square. This is great!" So, thank you to those people who had some perspective. Thank you to the people who verified that the line does indeed move quickly. Thank you to the Village elves who kept the line moving, so people didn't have to stay too long in HR.

Some people were treated to Shortcake's "Turn Around" song which goes to the tune of "Total Eclipse of the Heart:"

na na na na na na na na na na na na na naaaa na na na
na na na na na na na na na na na na na naaaa na na na
na na na na na na na na na na na na na naaaa na na na (fade into silence)

Clearly, Shortcake should not leave the North Pole to become a singer.

In other news, one of the managers cut her hand quite badly on the freight elevator. It was at the beginning of the day, and she was bleeding and had to leave Macy's. She's probably fine, but Shortcake will have an update tomorrow.

Public Service Announcement

If you would like to visit Shortcake at Macy's, you will want to come this week. Dec. 6-9, Monday-Thursday, 9am-5pm. 9am-10am is good (there's never a line) and mid-afternoon (12pm-3pm) is usually good. And no line you encounter will look anything like a weekend line.

If you come after this week or on a weekend, Shortcake is absolved of all responsibility. She warned you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Village Thursday

Shortcake spent the entire day in the Village. Well, there was this brief 5 minute stint in the maze at the very beginning of the day when she was Town Crier. That was a massive failure. She just didn't know what to say. Luckily, they needed a Photo/Santa elf, and Shortcake was available. She Photo-ed for about 4 1/2 hours until lunch and then Santa-ed afterwards. Babies will not smile for Shortcake. They will look at her magic bell, but they will not smile.

Shortcake and Strawboss Vic have decided to create an International Strawboss Sign Language that will be dispersed to all elves and strawbosses. Every signal must be simple and one handed. Manager/Strawboss Chris has a few started like "hold" and "special" and "speed up," but more need to be developed. This will be Shortcake's project. It is good to have a challenge.

Also, for lunch, Shortcake had a salad. Vegetables had been too long absent from her diet.

Also, Jersey Boys is still entertaining. If you were wondering.

Last night Shortcake went to her first ever Hannukah party. She got two glitter tattoos. Here's an AWESOME dragon:
And a pretty rose:
No worries, they last about a week. No permanent reminders of temporary feelings here.

OH! And Figgy brought his girlfriend in to visit Santa today, so Shortcake got to meet her. Which was exciting.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rock Star Wednesday

This morning there were a lot of veteran elves, so many that we started calling it Rock Star Wednesday. We had Sprinkles and Periwinkle and Fuzzy Mittens and Figgy and Spritz and Bobble and Merrimint and Snowball and Teddy Bear and Fa La La and Pine Tree and Moonbeam. Hot Chocolate and Tippy Toe joined us later. It would have been an extremely efficient morning, had there been people to move quickly. Shortcake was Gatekeeper at the beginning of the day, and in one hour there were 123 people. That's not very many. For the first 40 minutes, we were averaging a person a minute. During the second hour, more people came, but that meant Shortcake's left arm became stiff from keeping it behind her back constantly.

After a short break, Shortcake headed out to the front line to man the headset. She got to hang with Figgy for a whopping 5 minutes before he switched out with Little Star. Shortcake didn't have the best day on headset - she missed the manager's call a few times because the headset slipped off her ear. But there were school groups today. School groups are always fun.

Lunch involved another gingerbread man cookie. Gingerbread men cookies are quite good, but the buttons are made of raisins instead of gumdrops or M&Ms. Clearly, there is room for improvement.

Shortcake Photoed after lunch. It was slow, so she spent some time talking to Santa in the lulls. A lot of Germans came through today. And North Carolinians.

She was sent to the front line, not on headset, for a bit, where the most exciting event of the day happened. Shortcake was talking to two girls, and started smelling something. She figured one of the girls had farted, and Shortcake was too polite to mention it. Then she heard someone say "EW" and "look out for that," whereupon Shortcake turned around and saw poop on the floor. And someone had stepped in it and smeared it all over. And it smelled. Housekeeping was called, and they cleaned it up, but it does beg the question "who pooped on the floor?" There were no pets. Pinetree seemed to think it was an old lady. Shortcake's response was a very grossed out "EW."

Shortcake finished the day working the Main Exit, thanking people for visiting Santaland, and encouraging them to see the Puppet Theater.

After her shift she went to her very first Hannukah party and had klugel and latkes and some red wine and delicious chicken. Happy Hannukah!