Make My Day
HOW THE GRINCH GROUNDED SANTA
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- I'll bet most people never knew there was such a thing as an airport board. These people like to work behind the scenes, making sure airports operate smoothly and safely. And they prefer to stay out of the limelight.
Too bad that's not happening for the Salt Lake City airport board. They recently voted to change the minimum altitude to 2,000 feet for small aircraft flying over the city. And even though Santa Claus had always been exempt from the ordinance, they decided to eliminate his exemption -- even if it means he can't visit the city of 36,000 children.
Tim Campbell, executive director of the department of airports, told Reuters, "We were updating the ordinance and this provision had not been looked at for a number of years. Members of the panel felt it was just not appropriate.
He then yelled at an orphan and squirted a puppy with a hose.
Actually, Campbell was one of the good guys. He voted to keep the Santa exemption in place. But he covered for those sniveling cowards who said they wanted to be "modern and professional" --cowards who dashed the Christmas dreams of 36,000 children and then hid from the press.
Reuters was unable to reach Santa for comment, but that's because they don't know the old man like I do. I still had his number from a few years back, when I interviewed him for a Make My Day column. I gave him a quick buzz to ask about this controversy.
Santa: Hello, Erik! Good to hear from you.
Me: Hi Santa. How's Myrtle?
Santa: Oh, she's doing great. She was just asking about you the other day.
Me: Tell her we're all doing well. And thank her for the bundt cake. It was excellent, as always.
Santa: So what can I do for you?
Me: I wanted to get your thoughts on the Salt Lake City airport board.
Santa: Don't even get me started! Those Grinches just make my blood boil. I mean, I can understand their need for airline safety, but come on, I'm freakin' Santa Claus! I've been doing this for a while. I think I can handle myself.
Me: But they say they're trying to be modern and professional.
Santa: Modern and professional, my holly, jolly butt! I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that. They mean well, but they've forgotten the spirit of Christmas. They've forgotten what it's like to be excited about Christmas morning.
Me: I know what you mean. My kids go nuts on Christmas Eve. They can't wait for your visit.
Santa: That's what I'm talking about. That's what you get when you let a few bureaucrats make decisions for everyone. They just decide to cross my name off the list and not worry about what it would mean for the rest of the city. How do you think they would feel if I scratched the whole state of Utah off my flight plan?
Me: Actually, that brings me to my next question: are you going to skip the houses of those people who voted against you?
Santa: Myrtle thought I should, but I just can't. It flies in the face of the Christmas spirit. I mean, what kind of example am I setting if I deny children their Christmas happiness out of spite? Would it give me some satisfaction to do it? Probably. But then I would feel awful for the next several months, and I'd never forgive myself.
Me: You sound like you speak from experience.
Santa: Yeah. I don't like to talk about it much, but I skipped the entire state of Colorado one year. They had just opened NORAD, and I flew into Colorado airspace. They went into panic mode because they thought I was a Russian MIG-15 fighter. I wasted two hours trying to dodge surface-to-air missiles and a squadron of F-86 Sabres. I finally gave up and just dropped the whole Colorado payload on Oklahoma.
Me: So what's your next course of action?
Santa: Well, the Salt Lake City city council is supposed to vote on the new rules in October, so I'm a little hopeful. There has been a worldwide outcry over this, and I think things may look our way.
Me: You're right about that. The story has been popping up all around the world, and I know there's a lot of people pulling for you.
Santa: I appreciate that. Be sure to tell all your readers that I haven't forgotten them, and no matter what Salt Lake City decides, I won't forget anyone this year. Even if their parents ARE on the airport board.
Me: Good luck, Santa. I'll see you in a couple of months.
Santa: Take care. And don't forget my usual.
Me: I know. Chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.
Santa: That's right. I think I can skip Atkins for one night.