What's the worst job to have as Christmas approaches? Toy store sales clerk? Postal worker? Or perhaps ringing a bell in the rain hoping for donations?
According to a new online survey carried out by Brand IQ for Auntie Anne's Pretzels, being Santa Claus should perhaps top the list. Imagine having your feet stepped on, getting sneezed on, having your beard pulled and children wetting themselves in your lap. Every day. From Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Even more difficult, the abused Kris Kringles have to act as if they actually like the children, letting out the occasional "ho, ho, ho" just as the little buggers are grabbing the glasses off their face -- another frequent complaint.
"There is more to it than just sitting in a chair," Timothy Connaghan, head of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas, told Reuters. "There is more to it than just a red suit. Children can really put the wear and tear on you."
The survey queried 339 Santas, all members of the Real Bearded Santa group, and found that -- even though the facial hair is real -- Jolly Old St. Nick's smile is probably fake. Fully 90 percent of shopping mall Santas have their beards pulled each day by children suspicious of a fake. More than 60 percent are sneezed or coughed on by sick kids. Almost three quarters have at least 10 children burst into tears on their laps per day. A third of them report having been wet on.
But being Santa has its upside, too. Kids, after all, can be pretty funny. Giraffes, elephants and penguins frequently make Christmas wish lists, as do requests for cookbooks "because mom can't cook." One kid, according to the top ten list attached to the study, asked for a "real chainsaw," another for a floor buffer. One particularly popular plea was for new brothers or sisters -- or the removal of same.
Indeed, that last request may explain another of the survey's findings: Santas report that three quarters of kids say they have been good all year -- but only half the Santas actually believe them.