Survey says? It ain#039;t easy being jolly

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

How’s this for a doozy of a job description: Must love children, even when they’re crying and cranky. Must be jolly, even after spending 10 hours being poked, prodded, stepped on, wet on, sneezed on and coughed on.

That basically describes the work day of a mall Santa, according to a survey conducted by Auntie Anne’s Pretzels among the members of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas (AORBS), an international association of more than 1,000 real bearded gentlemen dedicated to the joy of being Santa.

The survey revealed that mall Santas cheerfully endure more than 100 children sitting on their lap every day; 90 percent report having their beard pulled every day to see if it’s real; 45 percent see camera flash spots more than 25 times a day, thanks to posing for countless pictures; and 34 percent have been wet on–all in the spirit of the holiday.

Fielding odd gift requests is also part of the job. What would you say to a child who asks for an exotic pet, like a giraffe or a penguin? Or to the kid who requests cookbooks for mom because she can’t cook very well, or a new sibling because he doesn’t like the one he has?

Considering the holiday pitfalls, it’s no surprise that the survey also found that while most people look forward to family vacations or watching football games after Christmas, 52 percent of Santas look forward to taking a nice, long nap.

Despite the &uot;occupational hazards,&uot; Santas wouldn’t have it any other way.

&uot;While Santas’ workload increases over the holiday season, we love every minute of our jobs,&uot; says Santa Timothy Connaghan, executive director of AORBS. And Santas’ lives just got a little easier thanks to Auntie Anne’s, purveyors of pretzels in malls across the country.

Representatives of Auntie Anne’s stores nationwide will distribute Santa Survival Kits throughout the holiday season, making sure mall Santas are well equipped for this busy time of year. The kits include useful items such as a boot polishing kit, a beard grooming kit, a battery-operated fan and a chilled bottle of Dasani water.

In light of the survey findings, Santas will also receive items such as hand sanitizer, a roll of mint Certs, Ricola throat drops and cherry lip balm. Santa can keep his strength up thanks to free Auntie Anne’s Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel cards.

There’s even a backup red light bulb for Rudolph’s nose, an official reindeer pooper-scooper, and for Mrs. Claus, peppermint foot lotion (she might have to loan it to Santa, though, since more than 50 percent say they have children step on their boots one to 10 times a day).