Last night, I walked into a video game store that was swamped with trade-ins. I could barely make out my manager and another co-worker behind the counter for the stacks of NES games that were piled before them; it was like Christmas…of 1989. Classics like Ice Breakers, Ducktales, RC Pro-Am, and countless others littered the counter top as my geeky colleagues waded through processing all of the games in order to give our Santa Claus his grand total of trade-in credit that the store was bestowing upon him for his generous endowment.
In Germanic folklore, Santa was this skinny guy that dressed in green clothing and gave out gifts to good children while beating the bad ones. Kind of like a strung out father who would smack his kids around while waiting in line at the methadone clinic. For Dutch people, Santa was a guy who would come around and give out presents to deserving children while his helper, called Black Peter, would carry another bag to take away the bad kids. Finally, the American Santa is this chubby guy who wears a red suit and gives out presents to pretty much everyone because it would not be politically correct to exclude any child from Yule Tide bliss.
The Santa that walked into the video game store last night was slightly different from all of his peers in the gift giving profession. Our Santa was dressed in a gray wife-beater and had the physical appearance that can only be described as mildly creepy, think Uncle Fester combined with Chunk from The Goonies. Either way, who was I to complain about his mild weirdness, he was trading in some pretty sweet stuff.
It should be said here that in order to complete a trade-in transaction, we need to see some form of identification to keep on record just in case it comes up that the person trading in the games stole them from someone else. When we asked our Santa Claus for ID he said that he didn’t have a driver’s license (sleighs do not require a license to operate) but had his IDOC ID card. IDOC stands for the Idaho Department of Corrections so not only is our Santa Claus a bringer of gifts, he is also a guard at one of the state penitentiaries.
Santa whips out his ID and it was nuclear war orange with the word “INMATE” in bigger-than-God letters down the side of the card. Our bringer of gifts and good will was also a card carrying felon. In the back of my mind I knew where all of this was going but still held out hope that Santa had been either wrongly imprisoned or had only done time for a minor offense like robbing a liquor store. It was about this time that Santa’s brother walked up to remind Santa that he had an 8pm curfew and they needed to be going home. Now in a hurry to stay on the Nice List of his parole officer, Santa quickly made a couple of PS2 selections, paid for them, and exited the building.
Armed with the internet and my memory, I quickly made my way to the Idaho Department of Corrections homepage and found their searchable database of inmates. Being the observant guy that I am, I punched in the name and then inmate number that I gleaned from our Santa’s unique and very orange ID card. In the blink of an eye, my cheery sugar plum visions of Santa were turned into moldy and tattered visages of the past. Santa’s sled turned into a dented blue, 1980s GMC conversion van with red curtains, and Santa’s presents twisted into bags of Walmart bargain bin candy used to entice small children into his vehicle cum love nest (pardon the pun). Our Santa had just been released from prison for Lewd and Lascivious Conduct with a minor under the age of 16 and was on probation until 2018. Christmas will never be the same and the games he traded in are now labeled as “the rapist games” and must be handled gingerly, followed up by a thorough hand scrubbing when finished; don’t even think about turning a black light on around them.
To abate our frustration and disappointment, we video game store employees found a broken Guitar Hero guitar and used it to vent our angst against the brick wall of the exterior of the building. After destroying something beautiful we came back into the store to double-check our inventory of rapist Santa repellent and mace behind the counter.