Airplanista Goes Undercover Once Again at Santa’s North Pole Facility

11:11 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor
Each December, Airplanista sends an undercover reporter to Santa’s sprawling toy manufacturing facility and aviation home base at the North Pole, and each year we dig up something interesting.
We sent our News Director Danny Peedot up there this year, posing as an FAA inspector. With falsified paperwork in hand, it was a breeze to slip inside the heavily-guarded facility. After the retina scan, a DNA sample, two card-controlled airlock doors and a 20-minute tram ride deep inside the permafrost to the heart of the facility, Peedot was inside, and nobody was the wiser.
To make the undercover plan work, our mole made a few cursory checks of Santa’s Sleightmaster 3000ti. Santa made no major modifications to the sleigh this season, except for the STC for the installation of 12,983,431 USB charging ports so all the electronic devices he was delivering as gifts would be fully charged on Christmas morning. Our fake inspector smiled while he signed the sleigh off as airworthy, scribbled a few notes in Santa’s gilded logbook, and everyone was happy.
Everyone except our good old friend, Lead Design Elf, Wrench B. Turnin.
You might remember this particular Elf has used “colorful” language in the past to bitch about everything. We are led to believe Elves are happy little creatures, but Turnin is only happy when he’s causing trouble.
Our embed spent an hour or so wandering the massive warehouses and production floor of the facility, hoping to uncover the mysteries of Santa Claus. Not long after he entered the TEATS (Toy Engineering and Testing Shop), Elf Turnin cornered him, and Peedot knew what was coming.
“Yo,” he said, in his best Brooklyn accent, “Yooz no inspector, I know you. You’re that reporter dude from that airplane blog, what is it, Airplane Neest Ah? What does that even MEAN? What the hell is a neest?”
Peedot looked around cautiously, and replied “O.K., yes, I’m that dude. And it’s Airplanista, like Fashionista. In any case, keep quiet, I am your conduit to the outside world. You keep me under cover and I’ll make sure your story gets told.”
“Oh baby, have I got something for you this year,” Turnin said with a toothy grin. “Working conditions here, they are atrocious. Sweat shop atrocious. If the world knew the slavedriver Santa is, it’d blow the whole mystique of Christmas wide freakin’ open.”
Peedot saw the opening he was looking for…a juicy story, a scoop, the kind of first-hand reporting that wins Pulitzers. “Where can we go to talk, and are you willing to go on the record?” he asked the Elf.
“Screw on the record,” Turnin replied. “Yooz want the goods, Clark Kent, yooz gotta keep my name out of it. I gotta keep my job, not a lot of opportunities up in these parts for Elves. Serious discrimination, we’re too short, we’re too small, we eat too many Candy Canes yada yada yada. So you want the scoop or not? Are we good?”
“Sure, I can always use something like ‘sources inside the facility,’ WaPo does it all the time."
“WaPo?” Turnin asked. “Who is this ‘WaPo’ of which you speak?”
“Washington Post,” Peedot replied. “Very respectable news outlet."
“Oh, sure, Woodward and Bernstein, Watergate, THAT Washington Post?”
“Yes, one and the same. But I do not work for them, I write exclusively for Airplanista.”
With that, the Elf motioned Peedot to follow him. Through a maze of hallways they wandered, up escalators and down elevators. All the time, Turnin was looking over his shoulder nervously, as if the Mafia was on his tail. As they walked (slowly, Elves have very short legs), Peedot’s interest piqued…he began to think he had a good one here. They arrived at a darkened room at the end of the last long hallway – a janitorial closet – and Turnin securely closed the door behind them.
Peedot got out his recorder and notebook, and prepared to start asking questions. Not a good idea with Wrench B. Turnin, who is a narcissistic maniac who has to be the one in charge and always gets his way, much like a little five-year-old in a tiny green suit.
“Look,” Turnin said, “here’s how this is going to work. You turn off that recorder, and I’ll spill my guts. You so much as glance at that recorder, and we are done here. When you leave here, this conversation never happened, got it?”
“Copy that, let’s roll,” Peedot replied, slipping the recorder back in his bag.
“O.K., here’s the deal,” Turnin began, “Santa is a tough cookie. He makes us work two hours a day – TWO FRIGGIN’ HOURS – and we only get 11 months a year off. He has the gall to make us start work at noon, like I said, slavedriver. There ought to be a law about overworking us like this, everyone knows Elves like to just hang out, eat Candy Canes and chat about green clothing. Yeah, we’ll work when we have to, but TWO HOURS A DAY? Jeez Louise, it’s hell in there.”
“You do realize most people work at least eight hours a day, right?” Peedot asked. Forgetting who he was talking to, he regretted the question as soon as the words left his lips.
“People,” Turnin yelled, “PEOPLE you moron! We are ELVES! What part of that does your stupid human brain not understand? Elves are not human, and we do not like to work, that's a damned myth. That’s how we originally got the Christmas factory gig in the first place. Ad said they needed workers who could withstand cold, build like six billion toys in one month, and keep their trap shut. They promised everything. Promise made, promises kept my ASS!”
Turnin was revved up now. He stood up on a chair to get right in Peedot’s face.
“See, the hourly work thing is bad, but the preferential treatment Santa gives a lot of his favorite Elves is really the story here,” Turnin said. “Get this, he actually classifies us by the way we SMELL, unbelievable, huh? Some of the ones that smell like friggin’ roses get to use the Segways, and the ones like us who have to get down and dirty in the shop with the F-ing sleigh, we smell like Aeroshell 100 most of the time. So we actually have to walk, can you believe that? You seen the size of this place? And, um, remember…little legs.”
“You know, Wrench, none of this sounds like a huge story, more like just a disgruntled Elf,” Peedot replied.
Bristling now, Turnin ramps it up. “O.K., so you want real dirt? Howz about ‘dis? Santa may have had a #MeToo moment the other day! I saw him way out in the corral stroking them girl reindeer, you know, petting them all over. Had some sort of brush in his hand. Didn’t to it to the boy reindeers. I don’t know what he was doing, I just know what I saw.”
“So, you can tell the difference between boy reindeer and girl reindeer from so far away?” Peedot asked.
“No, not exactly. But ‘cmon, it just makes sense, right?” Turnin replied, winking.
“No, not to me,” Peedot replied. “Nothing wrong with Santa grooming his animals, horse owners do it every day. Sounds like you’re just trying to generate fake news.”
“O.K., reporter boy, that’s it, we are done here,” Turnin shouted as he flung open the door and proceeded back down the long darkened hallway. Our Airplanista embed followed, bummed he did not get the story he came for.
After a covert exit of the facility, Peedot rode by dogsled to a skiplane and finally hitched a ride on a snowplow back to Alert, in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. It’s the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world – just 817KM from the North Pole – and it was the first place he could call into the newsroom back at Airplanista HQ.
His report was short and sweet. “Made it back to civilization. No story here this year, just the usual Elf with a bad attitude. Santa is good to go for another year, the Sleighmaster 3000ti is signed off, and Christmas is ON.”
The Editors quickly placed this one in the “meh” file and moved on, commenting about the overall expenses of the excursion, one that did not reap the deep-dive dirt they were hoping for. That’s what they get for using only one source, an uppity Elf that was, like they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle.

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