I-PASS is the nifty system where you stick a gizmo to the windshield of your car and automatically pay tolls from an online account, which lets you forgo stopping at toll booths and fishing around for money to throw in the basket.
Now comes FastPass, a similar concept but with a Christmas spin. Instead of breezing through toll booths, a Santa FastPass lets you move to the front of the line to see Santa. It’s pay-to-play Christmas.
You go online, reserve a time you’d like to see Santa at the mall, choose a photo package to buy and get a FastPass.
Elves no longer assemble toys at the North Pole, they patrol Santa’s perimeter to make sure parents do not take personal photos of children with Santa. Hey, the guy only works one night a year, he’s got to make some money to get him through the other 364.
Still, you basically invite the guy to come to your house in the middle of the night, give him total freedom to wander around while the family sleeps, but taking a personal photo somehow crosses the line.
FastPass is a smart convenience when lines are long, but you have to wonder what the kids who have been standing in line without a FastPass think when they see other kids cutting in front of them.
I’ve seen that happen in the self-checkout lines, and it’s not pretty. I suppose parents can tell the kids there is a nice line and naughty line — better luck next year. Or they can just read them my poem, “The Days Before Christmas.”
T’was the days before Christmas and inside the mall,
The line for Santa had slowed to a crawl;
Kids were tired shifting from foot to foot,
A baby wailed because she wanted her Nuk.
A mom yelled, “Up off the floor, don’t mess up your shirt;
We don’t want a photo of you smeared with dirt!”
All of a sudden there arose such a clatter,
A security guard sprang to assess the matter.
A family of five flew like a flash,
To the front of the line, ducking under the sash.
“No cutting, no cutting!” the crowd started to jeer.
“We didn’t cut! Our FastPass allows us here!”
The father waved it overhead for all to see,
A Santa FastPass for his children three.
The kids raced to Santa and sat on his lap,
The elf took their pictures-snap, snap, snap.
Clutching their premium photo package, they ran out of sight,
The dad calling to those still waiting, “Patience to all — just hang tight!”
Dash away, dash away, dash away all,
But buy your Santa FastPass before hitting the mall.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at email@example.com.