I have something to confess. I’ve had a lot of random jobs. I worked at a coffee franchise that was infested with rats, I worked at Smiggle and if I didn’t smile and giggle (which is what the name stands for) I was scolded by my boss, I tutored a family and the mum paid me to take her kids to the Van Gogh exhibition. But by far the most random job I’ve ever had was working as a Santa’s helper.
When I was 18, I worked the dreaded Christmas season as a Santa’s helper. I did it again the following year. I did it again the following year. If you don’t know, a Santa’s helper is someone who facilitates the photo taking experience with Santa. That includes: greeting families who were coming to take a photo as well as taking the photos of the kids.
I didn’t have to wear an elf costume (thank god), but I did have to wear a t-shirt that read: “Santa’s helper” and a hat as well. It definitely shredded any sense of dignity I had left at the time. It was also a very weird choice of job for someone who was terrified of Santa as a child.
I know Mr. Clause is meant to be a caring fatherly-figure, but because I had stranger danger drummed into my head from a young age, it changed my perception of the jolly man. I thought it was weird that a strange man would come into our house and give us presents. I still happily accepted the presents, but I had my suspicions. I would cry every time I saw Santa at a shopping centre, and god forbid I ever got a photo taken with him. I also refused to drink from the same cup I knew Santa had drunk milk out of, because that beard was a hygiene hazard and I knew it.
Anyway, working as a Santa’s helper, I had my suspicions confirmed. Now let me just say this on the record, not all Santas. But the Santas I have met, not good.
So let me tell you about the worst incident in my two seasons.
One year we had two Santas, but they hated each other. One of them used to complain that the other Santa was getting more shifts and this really awkward riff emerged.
One of the Santas was creepy, and the other wasn’t ~as~ creepy.
My manager told me to be careful of the creepier Santa because he had made some inappropriate comments to her, and always tried to make her sit on the seat with him. It was all very off.
So one day I was went into the utility closet to get some presents for the kids. (Oh and I should probably mention that the utility closet also doubled as a change room.)
I open the door and to my absolute horror I see the creepy Santa in his underwear, and let me tell you, I could not have sprinted away fast enough.
The worst part was he wasn’t even phased by it. Meanwhile I’m in the corner hyperventilating, because my worst nightmare as a kid was starting to become a reality.
Luckily, nothing else came of it. But just a week later, I asked where the less creepy Santa was and my manager told me señor creepy got him fired.
I’m not too sure what exactly went down, but I think he told the head office that his nemesis wasn’t pulling his weight, and he wanted to work seven-days a week.
The worst part was that I was constantly on edge around this creepy Santa, and after that I vowed to never work as a Santa’s helper again.