Santa’s on the road, and it’s not even Christmas
by Pat Piper
I was waiting for the light to change at the intersection of Routes 258 and 2, when I happened to look over at the car next to me. It was Santa Claus. He was behind the wheel of a burgundy Mercury with a big dent in the driver’s side door.
After a few uncomfortable moments of quick glances, I had to say something.
“It’s not even Thanksgiving,” I said.
“I gotta show up at a mall,” he told me. “They start the season early.”
By then the light had turned green, so I made the necessary left turn. In the rearview mirror though, Santa was still at the light. I slowed but he remained in the same place. Then I saw him get out of the car. I pulled over and walked back to the intersection. Santa had the hood up as cars passed by headed both north and south. Santa was ticked.
“I think it’s the battery,” he said. “I don’t run this very often.”
I had some jumper cables, so I retrieved them and carried them to Santa’s car. I had the flashing warning lights on as I hooked up the cables. The light had turned red, and a few cars were behind us watching all of this.
“Hey Santa, what’s the problem?” a young girl asked from the passenger side of a huge pickup truck. Santa looked up and told her what she could do. I was shocked, shocked and thoroughly enjoying this. Santa got into his car as the boyfriend/protector got out of his truck in the spirit of upholding his girlfriend’s honor. If anyone has told you chivalry is dead, let me suggest otherwise.
“What did you say to the lady?” he asked. Santa was in his car now and turning the key. Nothing was happening.
“He’s having a bad day,” I offered, “and he’s gotta be at some shopping mall, so give the guy a break. After all, it’s Santa.”
“Look, I don’t care if it’s the Easter Bunny. Nobody talks to the lady that way when she’s in my truck.” This was the moment when I wished I were sitting in a 12-mile backup at the Wilson Bridge. We were on the edge of two good old boys going at it. The light was still red.
Now, another guy got out of his car wondering if there was some kind of problem. That, of course, was the wrong thing to say.
“If I have something to say to you, I’ll kneel down to get to your level,” the boyfriend/protector warned. “Go back to your car and mind your own business.”
Now Santa got out of the car. He was steamed.
“Look, pal, the guy just asked if there’s a problem. It’s my battery. It’s not your problem, so why don’t you go ahead with whatever you’re doing so I don’t have to listen to this nonsense anymore,” Santa said.
Santa and the protector were chest to chest now. The guy who had asked if there was a problem walked up to both of them and said, “I don’t need some clown in a costume to defend me. Thanks anyway.”
As the light turned green, three guys were standing in the intersection, which, of course, started the horns honking from folks in the back.
“Hey, shut up back there,” Santa yelled. “Okay, I’m gonna try it again.” With that he got in the car and turned the key. The Mercury roared to life. I could feel the Peace on Earth thing going on as I unhooked the cables.
Santa shook my hand. “Thank you,” he said. “I hope I didn’t delay you too much.”
“Not a problem,” I told him. The boyfriend/protector and the other guy said nothing and walked back to their vehicles. That’s when the light turned red. The horns started honking again. I looked over at Santa and he looked at me. Then he smiled for the first time.
“Christmas comes too damn early,” he said laughing. “It’s not even Thanksgiving yet.”
I drove away feeling a glow inside. And I knew it was the holiday spirit.
Pat Piper is usually found at the intersection of Routes 258 and 2 on weekends waiting for the light to turn green.