Not Being Santa: Adjusted Expectations


Sunday I headed to Yokkaichi (四日市) for day two of the big kids’ event. This time I was asked to be the emcee and a worker who came last year was tagged for Santa duty. I don’t know why the decision was made, but I enjoyed the opportunity to see the other half of how they execute the event. (I did find it a little odd though: the other Santa is of Chinese extraction and last year the kids assumed he was Japanese and not the “real Santa”.)

About 400 kids performed over the two days. There were three shows each day and about fifteen performances per show. So, the performances averaged about four kids in each. Each group would do some little skit and then sing a song in English.

Songs and chants seem to work very well in Japan; particularly if there is some kind of routine associated with it. Children spend a lot of time learning all sorts of dance steps, so they are quite good at this.

Some of the songs were old favorites like “Five Little Monkeys”, but many were songs that I haven’t heard, and which had a certain Japanese flair to them.

Parents put a lot of effort into helping build props and sets for the kids. Also, I noticed most of the parents were very good at reminding their children to be polite when talking. Sometimes we get a little too caught up in formality, but recently it seems like children are allowed to cast it aside. Thus, it was very refreshing to see.

On the second day they introduced me to the facility manager, the school’s regional manager, and the parent company’s owner. We laid some groundwork for future possibilities; and, hopefully, left a little room to negotiate on pay.

Day one brought a little surprise which I forgot to mention. The emcee told everyone he was from San Francisco, but through discussion I found he was from San Jose. When I told him I lived in Los Gatos when I worked for IBM in San Jose, he came forward with the whole truth: he is from Los Gatos. This is much like how I tell folks I am from Seattle, when I’m really from Redmond. If you start small, most people just respond with, “Where???” If you start big, most folks just respond with, “Oh, I see.”; not requiring more detail, it just ends there.

Having 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 the promised travel compensation didn’t appear, but I heard from the other day one worker that he didn’t receive any, so I was not taken off guard.

They have a summer camp which I might get involved with, depending on schedule and details.


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