“Good morning Santa. Have a seat and I’ll get you some breakfast,” Ms. Claus said as I came into our kitchen.
I gave Anya a hug and kiss. “Sorry, I don’t have time. Quinten in Research and Development promised he would have a prototype of his newest gadget to show me.”
“This must be very important for you to skip breakfast,” Anya stated as she sipped from her favorite tea cup.
“It is!” I exclaimed as I put on my coat and hat. “This could revolutionize the way we handle the Naughty and Nice List. I might be able to see children being good more often, even those who have a hard time behaving. I don’t often get to see that.”
“I love the idea!” exclaimed Anya. “Besides, if it frees up some of your time during the season, I’m all for it,” she remarked, holding a donut in front of me.
“That’s very tempting,” I began as I licked my upper lip, “but I really do need to get over to see what Quinten has for me.” As I opened the door to leave, I looked back at Anya. “Maybe you could save that for me to have later?”
“Of course, I will!” she exclaimed, adding, “See you at lunch.”
I made my way down the hall of the Administration Building and out the door into the courtyard. Walking along the path, I could hear the sound of a fly or bee. “A little early for insects at the North Pole,” I said in a soft voice as I approached Quinten’s Lab.
Entering the workshop, I hung my coat and hat on the rack by the door and turned to face Quinten. “I expected you to be busy on this project,” I remarked, excitedly rubbing my hands together. “Does this mean you are finished?”
“Well, I’m not quite ready for mass production,” answered Quentin smiling, “but I can give you a demonstration.”
“This is all I’ve been able to think about lately. Please, show me what you have.”
After Quinten left his work bench, I followed him to another area in the corner of the lab. Sitting in front of several computer monitors, Quentin entered commands on the keyboard.
As the monitors came to life, a film of me showed up on the largest screen. “I was hoping to see more than just a movie of me walking through the courtyard,” I stated looking at Quinten.
Ignoring my comment, he hit a button on the keyboard. Over the speakers I heard myself whispering, “A little early for insects at the North Pole.”
“That’s . . . that’s . . . that’s . . .” I began stuttering.
“Yes, that’s you as you strolled over here just now,” Quinten quickly responded. Then he hit another button, and the screen showed me sitting in front of the monitor with my mouth wide open. “How?” was all I could say, as I looked around for a camera.
“Well Santa, I managed to use some of the technology of drones and added in a little bit of AI . . .”
“Artificial Intelligence.” Quinten waited a moment for me to gather my thoughts and then continued. “The trick was getting everything into a small enough package so no one would notice it.”
“Then the buzzing noise that I heard was it?” I asked.
“It sure was. But you never saw the device, did you?”
“No, I didn’t.”
While Quinten entered a few more commands, he described what his creation could do. Pointing to another monitor, he showed Doheny hard at work making a batch of fresh cookies. “We can also have these track people automatically. Watch this.” Once the tech savvy elf spoke, he clicked the mouse. The view on the monitor shifted as the gadget moved through the kitchen and settled over Blanche, who was making chocolate chip pancakes for the elves’ breakfast. “I can program one of these to watch as many as five different people,” remarked Quentin.
“So, I could look in on children all year long without making a visit or sending a Scout Elf?”
“That’s right Santa. You could spy on them anytime you want!”
“Spy! I don’t spy!”
“I’m sorry Santa. It’s just a figure of speech,” Quinten said grinning.
“That’s my only hesitation. This device is not just about observing,” I explained. “The children already know their Scout Elves are watching and will be reporting back to me, which makes them reluctant to do things while the elves are present.”
“I understand,” Quinten said. “So, what did you have in mind?”
“Hmm,” I muttered, trying to gather my thoughts. “I had hoped this device would capture the children being good unaware,” I said while stroking my beard. “In addition, I’d like to watch the actions of those who misbehave but have a change of heart and later apologize or try to make up for their bad deeds. That says a lot about them.”
“I like that idea Santa,” Quentin responded smiling. “I believe I can make that happen. This device will be a huge help to you. To make it happen, however, my staff and I need to test it on a huge number of children to see how it will actually work.”
We both fell silent as we thought about this new system operating on a large scale.
Getting up from the stool, I started pacing back and forth while looking at the monitors. Then it came to me, and I snapped my fingers. “Could you and your team make several hundred of these within a few weeks?” I asked.
“Since it’s the off season for toy production, I believe Bernard could make that happen. What are you thinking?”
I reached in front of Quinten and began an Internet search. After a few clicks I asked, “Can you make them look like this?” and pointed to a picture on one of the monitors.
“Exactly! You see the 17-year Cicada will emerge in about 15 states in America around the middle of May and last about six weeks.”
“Why didn’t I think of that? With all those cicadas flying around no one would ever notice our . . .” Quinten paused for a moment not knowing what to call his invention.
“I was thinking Scout Bug,” I said. “They will basically be doing the same work as our Scout Elves, only they are mechanical bugs.”
“No – NO – NO!” Quentin cried excitedly, throwing his hands in the air. “There is only one name for these. We’ll call them ‘CICADA CAMS!’”
Jumping up from my seat, I bellowed, “That’s it. Let Operation Cicada Cam begin!”
“Just think of all the good things we will get to see the children doing as they play outside,” Quinten added.
“And the children will have no idea some of those little ‘cicadas’ will be working for me.”
“Santa, with the billions of cicadas expected this year, they will never be able to find a Cicada Cam!”
Before I could respond, Quinten was off to complete Operation Cicada Cam. Taking a deep breath and exhaling, I wondered aloud, “Now how do I get this one to stop following me?”
Notes From Santa
I hope you enjoyed today’s story. I will post another one next Monday. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to tell you about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until next week . . .
Read more about the Scout Elves:
Scout Elves Are Coming – November 4, 2019;
Scout Elf Shortage – February 17, 2020;
Scout Elf Precautions – September 28, 2020;
Invisible Elves – October 19, 2020;
Scout Elves Return – November 9, 2020;
Elf Uniforms – December 14, 2020;
The Tooth Fairy – February 22, 2021;
Read more about Qunten:
Illustration by Clipart Of