Being Santa: Bait and Switch


Bait and switch is a sales technique which could also be described as lying. Classic bait and switch is to offer up some great deal, get the mark committed beyond the point of no return, and change the deal. Truly devious cons will not state that the deal was changed; they’ll just move ahead with the “new deal” as if all parties had agreed upon that from the beginning.

Today I was on the receiving end of something like a bait and switch. This happens fairly often in Japan, but I don’t think it is usually caused by dishonesty. One cause seems to be differences in communication methods. Another cause for English language special events is that they are often not planned out so well.

Instead of dressing as Santa for three back-to-back one hour parties, I was busy for about eight hours at three stage performances. The event was a lot of fun but including travel time I was out of the house about eleven hours, so what sounded like moderate pay per hour is looking a little thin. More importantly, it means I missed my shuji class. Since I told them I would work Saturday and Sunday, I will be heading up again tomorrow to do Emcee work.

They praised me highly and talked a lot about how much trouble they have finding people available for events; so, I am hopeful that I can negotiate on pay for next year. They also have a summer camp.

At the beginning of each event, I would sit in the lobby and each group of kids would come out for a class photo. They hired two professional photographers to work in two shifts. I really enjoyed getting the kids all warmed up to Santa. Most of them were in costume for their performances which was a lot of fun.

Inside the hall, each class would go to the front and give some kind of performance in English: singing songs, performing little one-acts, and so on. Towards the end they made the kids holler for Santa and I came out on stage for a little choreographed singing of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. There were technical difficulties during the second performance and we had to sing without the music going – that was fun.

After each performance I went back to the lobby and gave presents to the kids as they came out. Then there was usually a little chaos getting people to leave, so I had to entertain them and there were a lot of impromptu photos as well.

Lunch was your average cheap bento box lunch, but it was better than expected, so I was happy. I am often disappointed, and I remember one manager in my past advising me to set my expectations much lower. Usually I find that a little silly, but it certainly helps avoid disappointment.

Overall it was a lot of fun. I enjoy interacting with children. The costumes were amusing. Virtually every parent was the type who strongly encourages their child to be polite (a vanishing breed). Everyone treated me well. Only two kids suffered traumatic fear of Santa. At the end I was told that all the kids said they were so happy that “the real Santa Claus” came to their event.


3 Responses to “Being Santa: Bait and Switch”

  1. Stefanie Says:

    What a long day, but very nice of “the real Santa” to take the time out his day during the busy season 🙂 And only two kids afraid of Santa, pretty good.

  2. びっくり Says:

    Yes, the real Santa is indeed very kind. Of course, he’s quite good at it, since he’s been practicing for 1737 years.

  3. Not Being Santa: Adjusted Expectations « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] my expectations of time commitment adjusted by the event on day one, I found it easier to focus on all the positives during day two. I was a little disappointed when […]

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