"Personally, I always knew he was a Socialist," said Vixen.
I was startled at the bluntness of this senior reindeer. Its velvet-tipped antlers reflecting in the half-light of the blue moon. Vixen wanted to speak with me away from the confusion and hubbub of the Santa's Village. Our meeting place needed to secluded.
"Listen," said Vixen, "I liked Rudy. I never really had an issue with him as a reindeer. But when he started arguing for universal veterinary care for all reindeers and their families, I -- we -- got concerned about the direction of well, not just our herd-- but our total way of reindeer life throughout the nation."
For many years, the reindeer population has suffered from early on-set Cervidae diabetes and health problems association with decreased cardiovascular capacity.
The reindeer community maintained great concerns about flying into cities like Houston and Boston. "The air quality is often so toxic, we should be wearing masks," said Donner. "But the problem is that our reputation management consultants have forbidden us to be photographed wearing masks. So we don't use them."
Working conditions was one of the first topics on the agenda for the emerging reindeer labor movement.
Organizing was not met with enthusiasm by Global Directive (GD), the Company taking over Santa Village, LLC ( the toy acquisition and distribution operation formally controlled by the Claus family.) GD issued this statement: "We will treat all reindeer who opt-in for collective bargaining as hostile to GD." An unnamed source provided home video of a replacement reindeer training camp at a undisclosed location in Northern India. GD is considered a leader in outsourcing solutions.
Issues in the reindeer world have developed over a long period. Reindeer herds are diminishing and the demand for the culinary items such as reindeer sausage and reindeer cialisita (made from antlers) is an exploding craze in health food stores in trendy shops from West Coast shops. These factors, combined with the physiological and sociological complexities in the reindeer world, have created a landscape for a new brand of leadership.
It was my goal to speak with Rudy about this and much more. His Senior Strategist told me that our magazine would have to be vetted before an interview. Then, and only then, would I be granted a 20 minute session with 'red-nosed' one.
How did the affable, quirky little reindeer-- so loved by many when he, quite literally, saved Christmas -- become a divisive force in reindeer Nation. And when did he become a so-called, 'Socialist." Or, the "Red One."
Within the ever expanding world of reindeer scholarship, there are not-so-subtle clues. Rudy was often mistreated when he was young, being denied the opportunity to participate in commonly accepted reindeer activities -- or, 'reindeer games' as they were called by some. Several news analysts postulate this had a long lasting impact on Rudy, shaping his worldview and creating the framework for him to challenge the conventional North Pole oligarchy.
Until I interview Rudy, I'll have to rely on culling bits and pieces of his philosophy from speeches and interviews he's given. Here is a quote from a recent speech given at an industry plenary session.
"Transportation and logistics are essential parts of the Christmas operation. The elves are working without a contract and having been doing so for two years. All of our attempts to form a reindeer union have been met with resistance. Our demands are straightforward: a clearer focus on safety, training, healthcare and an opportunity to participate in the profits at Santa's village. These are reasonable requests."
Although the Claus Family --Santa and Mrs. Santa-- were willing to entertain selected reindeer demands, the perennial losses incurred and the subsequent sale of Santa's Village to the Consortium created an environment where the Claus' are denied a voice.
"The bankers are running the show now," said Elf spokeswoman Mirtha. "They felt this was a Mom and Pop operation and no longer even consult Mr. Claus. I can't believe how he's been treated. He has become a titular head with no input into strategy. These people have no regard for history. We fully expect to be locked-out of our assembly jobs next season."
Mirtha may be right. Outsourcing professionals from India have made repeated trips to the North Pole.
END OF PART ONE.