Day 16 – Reindeer Express

Santa didn’t know if he should be worried or angry, and that made him angry.

Unbeknown to the world he had been outsourcing a lot of the production of Christmas gifts to low cost countries like China. The elves had not liked it. They had threatened to unionize and bring the whole operation to a halt. At a non-specified future date. December 24th was explicitly not mentioned, but one of the senior elves had said «ho, ho ho» in a menacing tone of voice. The memory made Santa shudder.

But the elves were not the problem. He had bought them off with fancy titles. CTO (Chief Transportation Officer) was easy. The next hundred or so, not so bad. But the rest of them had been a struggle. He was not particularly proud of D1C (Dispatch team 1 Coffee maker). But as they say, somebody has to make the coffee.

The problem was shipping. The pandemic had caused problems for everybody, and the shipping companies answered “Force Majeure” when asked what they intended to do about the inevitable delays. The problem was the sheer amount of goods. Whereas normal companies measured the goods in terms of containers, he measured them in terms of whole ships.

The CWO (Chief Whatever Officer, another not-so-inspired title) approached him apprehensively.

Santa sighed. He could smell trouble when it stared him in the face. Or something. Whatever.

“You remember the order for bootleg Lego bricks to the elves’ Christmas party?” The elf looked miserable.

Ah, Santa thought. That shipment will also be delayed. He felt somewhat better at the idea of one thousand elves without a single Lego brick. They had made quite a fuss about it, and he had agreed to the Lego bricks to get them on board with the outsourcing. Titles are fine, but bricks are better. Apparently.

“There has been a terrible mix up. The order was for 20,000 bricks, and the shipping company was told to put them on the first ship with space to spare.” He looked even more miserable. “Well. They didn’t. They would not fit on the teddy bear boat. Not all of it. We only got 40,000 bricks. They just called, and asked us for a revised shipping schedule.” He looked if possible even more miserable. “For 20 billion bricks.”

Santa was livid. 20 billion bricks! They could not give them away (as Christmas gifts), as they were bound to be discovered as counterfeit. The ensuing litigation from the overlords at Lego would be unbearable. From a PR, economic and legal perspective. It could sink the entire operation!

Santa opened his mouth, about to scream at the elf.

But the elf got in first. “But all is not lost, sir. The GHWF came up with an idea.” GHWF? though Santa. He could not remember that title. It sounded made up. Well. They all were.

The emboldened elf continued. “He proposed building our own custom containers, as the real ones are in short supply, by Lego. Superglued together. And then we can use the Reindeer Express to haul them here.

Santa closed his mouth, and sat down. He had not realized that he was on his way up, but the elves had a way of getting at you. Very conscientious and literal, devoid of humor and double entendres, but most of all incapable of getting the important part up front.

“Yes”, the elf continued. “The CRO has done the calculation, and it works out. As long as we start right away.” CRO, Santa mused. Surely that was the Chief Reindeer Officer? He almost smiled. In charge of getting rid of the muck, if he remembered correctly. The title came with a big office, and an even bigger shovel.

The elf came closer, and laid a sheet of paper in front of Santa. “Here is the proposed schedule.”

                 R201  R202  R203  R204  R205  R206  R207  R208  R209  R210
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Santa/RE1   dep   0000  0030  0100  0130  0200  0230  0300  0330  0400  0430 
Mega        arr   0040  0110  0140  0210  0240  0310  0340  0410  0440  0510 
Mega/RE2    dep   0110  0140  0210  0240  0310  0340  0410  0440  0510  0540 
America     arr   0155  0225  0255  0325  0355  0425  0455  0525  0555  0625 
America/RE2 dep   0215  0245  0315  0345  0415  0445  0515  0545  0615  0645 
Mega        arr   0250  0320  0350  0420  0450  0520  0550  0620  0650  0720 
Mega/RE1    dep   0330  0400  0430  0500  0530  0600  0630  0700  0730  0800 
Santa       arr   0425  0455  0525  0555  0625  0655  0725  0755  0825  0855 
Santa/RE1   dep   0500  0530  0600  0630  0700  0730  0800  0830  0900  0930 

                 R301  R302  R303  R304  R305  R306  R307  R308  R309  R310
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Santa/RE1  dep   0007' 0037' 0107' 0137' 0207' 0237' 0307' 0337' 0407' 0437'
Mega       arr   0047' 0117' 0147' 0217' 0247' 0317' 0347' 0417' 0447' 0517'
Mega/RE3   dep   0117' 0147' 0217' 0247' 0317' 0347' 0417' 0447' 0517' 0547'
Africa     arr   0158' 0228' 0258' 0328' 0358' 0428' 0458' 0528' 0558' 0628'
Africa/RE3 dep   0240  0310  0340  0410  0440  0510  0540  0610  0640  0710 
Mega       arr   0309  0339  0409  0439  0509  0539  0609  0639  0709  0739 
Mega/RE1   dep   0330  0400  0430  0500  0530  0600  0630  0700  0730  0800 
Santa      arr   0425  0455  0525  0555  0625  0655  0725  0755  0825  0855 
Santa/RE1  dep   0507' 0537' 0607' 0637' 0707' 0737' 0807' 0837' 0907' 0937'

                R401  R402  R403  R404  R405  R406  R407  R408  R409
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Santa/RE1 dep   0015  0045  0115  0145  0215  0245  0315  0345  0415 
Mega      arr   0055  0125  0155  0225  0255  0325  0355  0425  0455 
Mega/RE4  dep   0125  0155  0225  0255  0325  0355  0425  0455  0525 
Asia      arr   0137  0207  0237  0307  0337  0407  0437  0507  0537 
Asia/RE4  dep   0210  0240  0310  0340  0410  0440  0510  0540  0610 
Mega      arr   0218  0248  0318  0348  0418  0448  0518  0548  0618 
Mega/RE1  dep   0300  0330  0400  0430  0500  0530  0600  0630  0700 
Santa     arr   0355  0425  0455  0525  0555  0625  0655  0725  0755 
Santa/RE1 dep   0445  0515  0545  0615  0645  0715  0745  0815  0845 

                    R501 R502 R503 R504 R505 R506 R507 R508 R509 R510 R511 R512 R513
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Santa/RE1     dep   0022 0052 0122 0152 0222 0252 0322 0352 0422 0452 0522 0552 0622
Mega          arr   0102 0132 0202 0232 0302 0332 0402 0432 0502 0532 0602 0632 0702
Mega/RE5      dep   0132 0202 0232 0302 0332 0402 0432 0502 0532 0602 0632 0702 0732
Australia     arr   0312 0342 0412 0442 0512 0542 0612 0642 0712 0742 0812 0842 0912
Australia/RE5 dep   0340 0410 0440 0510 0540 0610 0640 0710 0740 0810 0840 0910 0940 
Mega          arr   0458 0528 0558 0628 0658 0728 0758 0828 0858 0928 0958 1028 1058 
Mega/RE1      dep   0522 0552 0622 0652 0722 0752 0822 0852 0922 0952 1022 1052 1122
Santa         arr   0617 0647 0717 0747 0817 0847 0917 0947 1017 1047 1117 1147 1217
Santa/RE1     dep   0652 0722 0752 0822 0852 0922 0952 1022 1052 1122 1152 1222 1252

R200: Number of vehicles: 10
R300: Number of vehicles: 10
R400: Number of vehicles: 9
R500: Number of vehicles: 13
---------------------------------------
Total number of vehicles: 42

Santa looked at the paper. Then tried turning it upside down, to see if that would help. It didn’t. The elf made a discreet cough. “As you can see, sir, the trick is to send some of the goods directly to the regional distribution centres.”

Ah, yes. Santa thought. The battle of the A’s. The first one should have been called A, the next one B, and so on. They never got past A. America, Asia, Australia and Africa.

“We have divided them into 5 routes, and they do one tour to a regional centre each, before coming here for maintenance and so on”, the elf continued.

The elf pointed at the bottom of the paper. “We need 42 reindeer haulers, and we have 45 of them. So we even have some to spare, if – or when – things go haywire”.

Haywire? Santa thought. The name Rudolph popped up, unbidden. “Rudolf?” he inquired. The elf looked smug. “He is on a top secret mission in the Bahamas, checking the best width/length ratio for surfboards..”. The elf looked even smugger, if that is a word. “We forgot to equip him with a return ticket. He will inquire about it eventually, we think, but in the meantime – he is not here.”

Clever man. Er, elf, thought Santa. Too clever, perhaps? A candidate for a future top secret mission to, somewhere? Santa filed the thought for later.

Santa pointed at the paper. “Very impressive. How did you manage this?” The elf brightened. “A guy in Norway has made a program for us, called networkplanner, written in Raku. We only have to pass it some data, and it will compute the rest for us. All by itself. (Note to the readers: The elf didn’t really understand all the numbers on the paper, but the programmer had written a nice explanation for him. Not that he understood much of it, but it looked impressive.)

The elf seemed to read his mind, and continued. (Note to the readers: Santa worried about expenditures. No amount too little to worry about. The elves knew all about it, with the Lego incident fresh in memory.) “And he did it free of charge, as open source.”

Amazing, Santa thought. Giving away valuable programs free of charge. Then he thought some more, about the spirit of Christmas, and his own role in giving away presents for free. The humans may have caught on, he thought. Perhaps we should send the guy some Lego bricks? Real ones, even.

Something did not add up.

Finally he got it. “And the Lego bricks?”

The elf looked smug again. “We need them all for the shipping containers. More than we got, actually, so we have to ship the used parts back to China from the distribution centres for reuse. So all of it, or at least 19,998 billion bricks will end up here. By Christmas.”

He looked even smugger. Santa made a mental note to look it up. Smugger. More smug, perhaps?

He thought about the elves’ Christmas party, and 19,998 billion bricks. It could put you out. It really could…

Then he had a thought. “Norway?”, he said. “One of the countries squabbling about where I live?”. “Quite so”, the elf confirmed. “Finland is the other one”. He leaned closer. “The CHO thinks it may be to keep warm. The squabbling, that is”. Santa was fed up with titles, so did not ask what CHO meant. Wasn’t it a shoe brand, or shop? Or was that Shoo? He looked at his own shoes, considering the expected new pair he would get from the elves at Christmas. They did not quite get it right, so he had to exchange them later on. Discreetly.

And Finland, of all the places. Santa was fed up with the cold, so had moved the whole operation to Spain centuries ago.

The Elf left. Santa chuckled, quite satisfied. Everything had a way of sorting itself out in the end.

Then he had a terrible thought. The invoice for the 20 billion Lego bricks!

2 thoughts on “Day 16 – Reindeer Express

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