Santa’s a sad sack. He can’t greet the children at Dapto Mall, or ask them what they’d like for Christmas.
That’s because he breached Santa protocol and was shown the door. Among his ‘’misdemeanors’’ was failing to keep his black shoes shiny and allowing hair to peek through his wig.
Mall management ‘’had no choice but to let him go’’.
‘’On December 1, I was emailed to say I was sacked,’’ Santa, aka Tom Collins, said. ‘’This resulted in me having no work. My wife is inconsolable since my sacking. I never had complaints from other venues as I made the children feel special and had compliments to that effect up to a day before my sacking.’’
A Dapto Mall spokeswoman said the centre works closely with Santa to ensure that ‘’together we provide the best possible experience for the children visiting our centre at Christmas time’’.
‘’Unfortunately on this occasion Santa was not meeting requirements of the job.
‘’We had a number of concerns with his conduct including his dress and professionalism and it is disappointing that we had to let him go. Our priority is to provide a magical Christmas for all the families visiting Dapto Mall.’’
Mr Collins has previously spread his cheer at Nowra Mall, hearing the whispers of children about their wish-list. He came to Dapto to help out this silly season.
‘’My first day I didn't have the wig,’’ Mr Collins explained. ‘’At first, the other photographer said this would be okay for today as they were frontal shots for pictures and I would get a wig the next day,’’ he said.
After a quick call to Mrs Clause - aka Santa’s real-life wife - he had himself a wig. Two days later, Santa was told by his management company the mall manager was not happy with his shoes.
‘’They asked me to buy a pair of blacker shoes. I went to the local shoe shop and was lucky to get a cheap pair as my feet are large and not many my size are ever in stock,’’ Santa said.
A few days later after a long stint in the chair, Santa was ‘’hot and uncomfortable’’ but ‘’as usual I put the children first to make them feel special and delight them. That’s what Christmas is about.’’
But by 3pm he needed a break to ‘’go to the loo and eat something’’. ‘’My wallet was in my bag, I asked if I could borrow $3 for a sushi roll rather than go over to the smoko room, completely undress, come back get the roll and go back.
‘’The sushi stand is in the middle of the floor. I asked the proprietor … if I could pick a roll up and pay her later. I would never have eaten in the mall in front of anyone.’’
The next day Santa received an email telling him to stay at the North pole.
‘’I was instructed to send the Santa suit back to them,’’ he said. ‘’I have been Santa at other venues, no complaints and have rave reviews about my performance. Now I have nothing. At 61 it is impossible to get employment that’s why this meant so much to me.’’
Jobless and low on Christmas spirit, Mr Collins now feels like the Grinch.
‘’I’ve been helping a family in the Philippines and was going to send them money,’’ he said. ‘’I sent $200 and was hoping to send twice that. Now I can’t afford it. You know, Christmas time, a time of giving.’’