Santa belched, groaned and heaved himself up with difficulty. He should not have had the second bottle of Malmsey but it happens and took his mind off the urgent business. He realised the elves were standing by the bed looking grim. They were supposed to be happy and joyful and more to the point, at work.
"Oh higher being is it time already?" he asked. The elves looked at each other, then one spoke. "There are issues." He said, flatly. Santa groaned again. Ever since he was stupid enough to fall for a proposal for KPMG to run the rule over his operations and put in hand a scheme for changing everything, there had been issues.
"Yes, what?" he asked. The elf who was Elf One, simpler than the new Executive Managing Director Of Operational Functions, sniffed. Elf sniffs are not just a nasal reaction, they are a warning.
"No can do." he said in KPMG speak. "The major logistics needs are not functional and so we cannot meet our targets according to the...", Santa butted in despite the recommended inter personnel communication protocols, "Just tell me, in very few words."
Elf One sighed; he always had this problem since the Great Change. But the message has to be given. "Carbon emissions." "Yes," said Santa, "I have a bit of problem...", "Not you, the reindeer as well." said Elf One. "But theirs is natural function!", "Not when flying high, they exceed agreed world aviation levels, they are grounded."
"Well, fine, we travel by earth." Elf Two, Director of Organisational Entities came to the rescue of Elf One. "Well besides Border Controls, earth means the reindeer have to be shod. "Just do it." said Santa, who was becoming grumpy. Elf Two shuffled a little.
"Well it's like this. The EU issued a major document relating to animal movement and those on their own hooves, feet, etc. had to be protected. It was a very long document after a great deal of internal discussion." Santa interrupted, "Fine; do it their way."
Elf Two coughed, "But when the detailed regulations were issued, because the Saami software did not integrate with Brussels and our Gremlin computer people failed to deal with it, reindeer were omitted. So while we have to shoe them we do not have the specifications for shoeing. It will take a decade or so to sort out."
Santa was verging on losing his temper. "So we use delivery services, my goblins will borrow the money from KPMG to pay for it, so all the gifts go by same day delivery from any service that can to it." The elves looked at each other, Elf Three, Director of Finance and Monetary Services, who now had his hands over his face, was pushed forward.
"You really ought to know, Santa..." "Yes I do really ought to know!" shouted Santa back, "We actually, at this moment in time, and looking at the relevant detail, have nothing to deliver. This is another issue we have to tell you about."
"How, how, how did that happen!" Santa had moved up an octave or two. "Well, it seems most of our gifts were gender based, so they are out, the others apparently offended someone or other, so they are out as well. None of them can be transported or delivered anywhere."
"Ha," Santa cried, " Wrong, you have forgotten last March, when I stocked up on laptops, tablets, smart phones and such at rock bottom prices, for all the gizmo's that children could wish for."
The elves looked at each other and looked to Elf Four, Director of Human Resources whose job it was to give bad news. He coughed twice before speaking, "We tried to tell you at the time, Santa, but you would not listen. March is ancient history, gizmo wise, now all that stuff is junk that no youngster wants to be seen with."
"What?", Santa had reached high tenor. Elf Four stepped back a little. "Apple, as we expected, brought out whole new ranges in November for the Christmas market. You couldn't give the March stuff away. Oh, and because we went bust we had to bring in KPMG again as administrators." Elf Three nodded and began to twitch as he spoke.
"They were very good, charging us one per cent less than the usual ninety for the work. They decided that we had a viable brand name and auctioned us among major retailers. We are now a wholly owned subsidiary facility for outsourcing actual delivery to local areas. You are now a branch manager for one of the areas."
Santa shrank visibly, "Who, what, where?"
Elf Four pulled himself up to his full two foot height. "Walmart, groceries, Deadwood, South Dakota, USA, your company identity is Wild Bill, look on it as an opportunity, not as a setback."
"So what is happening to you lot?" asked Santa with a hint of spite in his voice, "We are all KPMG interns, they tell us we have a future." said Elf One.
For the first time Santa smiled.