12 Days of IRIS Christmas: “On the 12th day of Christmas, we travelled overseas…
...to see what life is like at Claus Industries."
For the final two blogs of our ‘12 Days…’ series (featuring IRIS user Father Christmas and Patrick, his accountant at Red Nose & Associates), we took a trip to the North Pole to get a hands-on look at an average day at Claus Industries.
The first thing that hits you as you push your way through the giant, candy cane covered doors into one of Santa’s many workshops is the smell.
We were assured that it was the smell of fairy dust, but to our human noses it smelt a lot like fir trees, warm cinnamon and peppermint all rolled into one. Most importantly, it smelt like Christmas.
The second thing we noticed was that Santa’s workers tend to do things a little differently than your average factory worker in the UK.
Despite Claus Industries’ progressive attitude to workers rights, they're slightly less by the book in terms of health and safety. We imagine H&S inspectors struggle to make the journey to the North Pole, and that’s probably for the best.
Workshopping Around The Christmas Tree
Naturally, the bulk of Claus Industries’ production goes into chocolate and toys, so it was no surprise to learn that Workshop #1 is a dedicated chocolate-making factory, with vats of various types of chocolate all over the place.
Testing, we’re told, is of paramount importance, and we soon realised why; this was no Cadbury’s.
Testers have to climb 203 steps to the top of a humped slide, which they zoom down at speeds exceeding 100mph, launching them into the air and dunking them into the vat below with an enormous splash, showering bystanders with chocolate drops.
When they emerge, the classic 'thumbs up' system is used to determine whether or not the chocolate is good-to-go.
All passers-by must take part in the testing process in order to properly determine the chocolate’s quality. This includes visitors from software companies.
After giving our seal of approval, we moved on to workshop #2: Toytown.
Drivin' Drone For Christmas
Whereas workshop #1 resembled Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory but with elves rather than oompa-loompas, workshop #2 was much more mechanical.
The wooden toys that Claus Industries once mass produced on a gargantuan scale have long since been replaced by computerised counterparts, and the scene we walked into looked more sci-fi than real life, all chrome, drones and robots.
It was here where we once again noticed Buddy, our guide on the way to the North Pole. He was fixing what looked like a malfunctioning elf-shaped robot.
We wondered if he was worried by the threat of autonomous workers?
“Not really. Not at the moment, anyway. We’ve got a few already but they’re missing the key ingredient: fairy dust. It’s what we elves are made of, and without it all the things we make here lack a certain, indescribable something. Without a sprinkle of real, elven fairy dust, how would any magic get into every home at Christmas?”
We hadn’t thought of it that way. We liked his line of thinking.
Letter Snow, Letter Snow, Letter Snow
We left Buddy to finish up and were led through a back door into an administration building. From the outside it seemed like any normal office block, but once inside it was more the size of a hangar for the space shuttle, and it was filled with acres and acres of letters.
Despite this, there was hardly anyone to be seen. In fact, it was completely empty aside from ourselves and Pepper, our gingerbread tour guide. She led us into the middle of the room, where, in between tottering skyscrapers of letters, there was a solitary desk occupied by one very old elf.
We knew he was old as his long, grey beard coated the entire floor around him to the extent that we were were now walking on a soft, grey, furry carpet. He didn’t appear to mind.
“This is Santa’s ‘Lettergetter’,” Pepper informed us. “With Santa having so much on his plate, figuratively and literally, he doesn’t have the time to read every letter he receives. The Lettergetter deals with the bulk of them and passes on any that need extra-special attention.”
We noticed how carefully he was reading each letter, almost at a snail’s pace, and asked her how he managed to get through so many before Christmas Day?
“Oh, time moves much slower in here. It uses a special type of secret fairy dust. It’s the only way we’d get through them all,” she said. She then noticed we were looking closely at a letter sticking out from the nearest pile, but too afraid to grab. “Go ahead!”, she insisted.
God Retire Ye Merry, Gentleman
We pinched a corner and slid it out slowly, still making the entire pile wobble precariously, like a huge game of really thin Jenga. We began reading:
I wasn’t sure how to tell you this in person, so I’m writing you a letter instead.
I’ve known you for a long time now, longer than most of the people I know, come to think of it. You’ve always been there for me when I’ve needed you, and I like to think that I’ve done the same for you over the years.
But the years have been long, Santa, and they’re catching up with us (well, maybe not you…), so I feel that now is the right time for us to part ways.
Retirement hasn’t been an easy decision, but I know you’re in capable hands with the rest of the RN team.
I won’t say goodbye forever (still hoping to borrow the keys to your Bahamas property, when you’ve got a moment) but I will say good luck, and thank you for bringing happiness everywhere you go (and you go everywhere!).
P.S. The wife is against it, but any chance of a Harley Davidson this year?”
As we began processing what we’d just read, the Lettergetter snatched the letter out of our hands.
“Extra-special attention!”, he shouted, and ran off through the maze of paper towers.
(Wish We Could) Stay Another Day
A buzzer sounded on Pepper’s watch, snapping us out of our deep thought and signalling the end of our journey.
As we were ushered out, we wondered how many other happy, sad, hopeful and bittersweet letters we’d left behind. Being Santa Claus must take quite the effort.
We walked away from the complex saddened that we’d only just scratched the surface of its inner workings and wishing we’d had more time, but ‘tis the season, after all.
Our spirits were soon lifted when we discovered that we had our very own plane to take us home (with Christmas movies for in-flight entertainment) as the reindeer were off on a trial run.
We regretted not getting the chance to say goodbye to Santa and Patrick, or to thank them in person for all their help and assistance in putting together our ‘12 Days of IRIS Christmas’ blog series, but we thought it better that way. They had goodbyes of their own to attend to.
Now, we'll look forward to working together with a new member of Patrick's team and continuing to help Red Nose & Associates and Claus Industries be the best businesses they can be.
That’s a wrap (ho ho ho) for our Christmas blogs. Thank you for reading. You can find the links to the previous entries below.
From everyone here at IRIS, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
See you in 2017.
If you'd like to read more in our ‘The 12 Days of IRIS Christmas’ series, click on the links below: