26th December 2016
Geoff the Pedantic Elf: A Christmas Proofreading Story
‘Twas the day after Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. This suited Santa Clause just fine. It had been a busy festive period, after all, culminating in his customary, physics-defying journey around the world to deliver gifts to all the good boys and girls (he delegated the naughty list these days for efficiency).
Now, though, his work completed, Santa was enjoying a well-earned sit down in his office. He was just pouring himself a celebratory brandy, in fact, when someone knocked on the door.
“Come in!” called Santa to the knocker.
The door opened a crack. Geoff, Santa’s top admin elf, sidled in nervously.
“Can I help you, young man?” asked Santa, chuckling to himself (he knew well that Geoff was 974 years old, which is fairly venerable even for an elf). “It was a good idea of yours to automate the Christmas list system this year,” he added, encouragingly.
“Umm, that’s actually what I need to talk about,” said Geoff, avoiding eye contact with his boss. “We’ve had a few complaints.”
“Complaints?” bellowed Santa, leaping to his feet and towering over the elf. “From whom?”
Geoff cowered, but managed a response: “Parents!” he squeaked, “It seems that there might have been some typos in the Christmas list!”
“Typos? Like what?” Santa grumbled, reaching for his tablet computer and opening the Good Boys and Girls app that Geoff had developed to handle the Christmas list this year.
The head elf watched Santa struggle with the device for a few minutes, then gently took it off him and navigated to the “User Feedback” section.
“Here,” he said, “This one is from a mother who says you crept into her little girl’s room and performed neural surgery on her in the middle of the night.”
Santa sniffed defensively. “Yes, well? The list clearly said that she wanted a ‘boy brain’.”
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“It did,” agreed Geoff, “But it should have said ‘toy train’.”
Santa’s face, usually so ruddy, suddenly turned pale. “Oh. Well. I can see why she might be upset. I thought that sounded like a strange request.” He paused. “Was there anything else?”
“Quite a few, actually,” replied Geoff. “There was a boy in Arkansas who wanted a puppy.”
“What did we deliver?” asked Santa with palpable trepidation.
“A yuppy, apparently. “The kid’s dad says the boy freaked out when he found a businessman sat at the end of his bed, sipping coffee and working on a laptop.”
“I can imagine,” said Santa, slumping back into his seat. Santa’s brow furrowed as he squinted at the tablet screen. “Is that even how you spell ‘yuppie’?”
“It’s a variant spelling,” explained Geoff, shrugging. “That’s what you get when you hire temps to do the data entry work, I guess.”
“So, then, what do we do now?” Santa asked, looking to the elf for help.
“First of all, we need to get back out there and, ahem, make some corrections,” the elf suggested. “And then, before we get started on next year, we should probably hire a proofreader.”
“Good idea,” muttered Santa, before taking a deep gulp of brandy.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!
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