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Working for Santa

“Thumb scanner” makes elf’s work easy

December 17, 2012
By HANS MADSEN, , Messenger News

Working for Santa as an on-site elf at the Crossroads Mall can have a few fringe benefits - free candy canes, a share in the cookie haul, freedom from toiling in the toy factory for a few weeks, and getting a magical scanner installed in your thumb.

OK, so the last one might not be that much fun.

"It was very painful," Roscoe the Elf, aka Dan O'Neil, of Fort Dodge, said.

Article Photos

While Santa watches, Roscoe the Elf demonstrates the latest in list scanning technology. The thumb scanner can also be used to determine naughty or nice.

Of course, the useful features of the red laser device outweigh a little discomfort.

"It was worth it," Roscoe said.

So what does the thumb scanner do?

Santa, aka Tom Bethke, of Fort Dodge, explained that it's mostly used for scanning the wish lists of children who visit. By using an electronic scanner, he saves time and space for storing all the old lists - Santa said he keeps them in a large warehouse on the North Pole but that he was running out of space.

This year's scanned lists have only used up 6 percent of the hard drive space on his magic laptop. The old lists will be scanned this summer before being turned into environmentally friendly reindeer bedding.

It has another use too.

"He can scan for naughty or nice," Santa said. "If it blinks it's a maybe, if it's solid on it's a yes."

No light means trouble and a spot on the naughty list.

Santa said he's seeing some trends this year among the wish lists.

"The electronics are good this year," he said. "The iPods are big."

Among the boys, tradition seems to be holding sway.

"They're asking for cars and trucks," he said. "There's no hot item this year."

Among the girls, it's a different story. He said the Lalaloopsy dolls are a popular request.

He's also seeing the fickle tastes of young music listeners change.

"I've had no requests for Justin Bieber," he said. "He's on the outs; he must be fading."

Of course, Santa will take requests from adults too.

"The most common request is a relationship partner followed by cars and expensive jewelry," he said.

Christina Garza, of Fort Dodge, was one of those adults who had a request. Her desire?

"A more improved husband," she said. "Just a little fine tuning."

Will Santa be able to help her?

"I think I'll get it," she said. "I think I will."

Santa also wanted to assure everyone that the lack of snow is not going to affect his ability to deliver presents.

"We do install small wheels," he said. "There is a braking system too."

While Santa is in the business of giving to others, few ask him what he would like.

"I just want to get through the whole night safely, then get home to sleep for a couple of days." he said.

Until then, Santa will continue to have Roscoe the Elf scan lists with his thumb, pose for photographs and show everyone who visits some of his magic.

And no, he won't tell anyone how any of it is done.

"It's a secret," he said.



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