Santa rides the E train

I was the marketing manager for my last employer, where part of my job was to plan the company’s presence at various conferences. At the time of my layoff, I was working on ad:tech, which focuses on digital marketing. And since I had a free pass and it was in NYC, I went. Maybe I’d find some companies I’d like to work for.

The conference turned out to be pretty useless on the job front (though productive as free candy goes). Most of the companies exhibiting looked to be clones of my previous company. Small digital marketing agencies are all trying to do basically the same thing, though they all call it something slightly different. Most of them will be gone and replaced in a year. I don’t need a paycheck bad enough yet to take essentially the same job only to be laid off again in a few months.

But I did get to meet Santa Claus.

He was working for a company called, or at least a company that owns I forget what their deal is exactly – some sort of search engine specific to the holiday season maybe. They also own domains related to other holidays, a strategy that makes them a nice little chunk of change (I’m told).

Anyway, Christmas seems to be their next big holiday, and their conference booth consisted of a table and the company’s name crafted out of crumpled-up paper on the divider behind it (classy!). There may have been some snowflakes too – like the kind you made in 2nd grade by folding up paper and cutting out various shapes. Maybe my mind just filled in that detail given how crappy everything else was. Well, almost everything else.

The Santa they hired was top notch. He had the requisite red outfit trimmed with white fur. He had the natural gut and long white beard. He had the bells on his shoes and the jolly laugh. This guy was a pro.

On my way home, I happened to hop on the same train as Santa, still in full garb. I guess at this time of year, you’re always Santa, even when you’re not. The train was standing room only, though not packed. And we were holding the same poll.

I little boy, maybe 5 years old, was completely freaked out. He kept hiding his head behind his mom and then peaking out to point and whisper. So I asked Santa how parents explain his presence when they see him out in public. As he explained, they rely on the “he knows when you’ve been bad or good…” explanation. Santa is always watching, even on the subway.

I managed to learn a few other things. The professional Santa season is Thanksgiving to New Years, which I guess is no big surprise. But this Santa already has gigs lined up for much of November, which is unheard of. And people hire him to come to their homes on Christmas morning and give out presents. Every year he goes to 8 or so different houses. How awesome would that be – to have Santa actually come to your house with gifts? Even if he gets to come in through the front door though (I asked about that too).

Also, Santa lives in Long Island City and has tattoos on his arms. So if you don’t get your wish list off to him in time, just take the E or V train to the 23rd St. Ely stop. Maybe you’ll find him.

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