Customer Service Person
Christmas Season 2016. An afternoon in late December, 2016 at a crowded mall in suburban New Jersey. Shoppers wait in line at the Customer Service Desk, next to a Santa Claus booth with long lines of children.
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: May I help you?
SHOPPER ONE: Yes, please. I have a question. Do you know anything about your Santa Claus?
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: Santa Claus?
SHOPPER ONE: Right over there. I can't see through the door.
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: You have to pay and get a ticket first.
SHOPPER TWO: The line is over there.
SHOPPER ONE: I know. I don't really want to pay for my godson to see him if he's white.
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: What?
SHOPPER ONE: I was asking because, in all of my forty five years shopping in this mall I've never seen a Black Santa, or a Santa of any color.
SHOPPER TWO: I never thought about that.
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: Neither have I, but why does it matter if he's white?
SHOPPER ONE: Maybe it doesn't. Maybe it matters if he's not white.
SHOPPER TWO: Why should that matter?
SHOPPER ONE: Is there some sort of unofficial Santa Claus policy?
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: I don't think so. But the mall isn't in charge of Santa Claus.
SHOPPER ONE: I guess that's a good thing.
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: I was told the whole operation is a Dreamworks contract.
SHOPPER ONE: OK. But a contract with whom or what? The mall, right?
SHOPPER TWO: You don't want a white Santa Claus?
SHOPPER ONE: I think it's good to have different people playing Santa Claus. Lots of different people. I don't want to have to go to West Philly or Chinatown to take my godson to see a Santa Claus of color.
SHOPPER TWO: Why not?
SHOPPER ONE: Why should I? If I have to I will. I just don't understand why this mall has never had a Black Santa. Or a Santa in a wheelchair....or lots of other sorts of Santas and helpers.
SHOPPER TWO: That Santa does have Black helpers.
SHOPPER ONE: Of course he does.
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: I haven't been inside the booth, but I know Santa isn't in a wheelchair.
SHOPPER TWO: You want Santa in a wheelchair?
SHOPPER ONE: No. I don't mean----
SHOPPER TWO: Santa should be the same everywhere.
SHOPPER ONE: Maybe.
SHOPPER TWO: What's wrong with the Santa in there? I took my son last week. He loved it. I think he's a good Santa.
SHOPPER ONE: Why is the Default Santa white?
SHOPPER TWO: What's a Default Santa?
SHOPPER ONE: If Santa should be the same everywhere, why can't the Default Santa be Chinese? Maybe Santa should be Chinese everywhere.
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: I don't know what you mean by a 'Default Santa'. I thought you were looking for a Black Santa, not a Chinese Santa.
SHOPPER ONE: I was. I am.
SHOPPER TWO: You just said you wanted a Chinese Santa.
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: I can ask someone from the mall to contact you regarding your question. Or you can write a comment slip.
The CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON hands SHOPPER ONE a comment slip with a pencil.
SHOPPER ONE: Good Lord. I'm tight on time. I'll leave my comments on the mall's website.
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON: I'm sorry I couldn't help you.
SHOPPER TWO: At least you can go to a Default Santa in Chinatown. Right? Good luck.
SHOPPER ONE begins to walk away, then turns back.
SHOPPER ONE: Why can't the mall Santa be Black one year, and Chinese the next? Why am I searching for a hyphenated Santa? Why can't I go to Chinatown to see a Chinese Santa, and then come to my local mall and see a Santa who is Chinese? Would that be impossible? Why does Default Santa always have to be white? Why does Santa have to be either-or? Why can't Santa be both-and? Why can't the mall Santa be Black one year, and Chinese the next?
CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON and SHOPPER TWO stare at SHOPPER ONE.
SHOPPER ONE: OK. OK. You know what? Merry Christmas.
And SHOPPER ONE leaves without purchasing a Santa Claus ticket for her godson.