G-Men nab elves selling illegal, um, nothing | Humor

It was straight out of one of those black and white movies typically set in prohibition-era Chicago: In the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, Dec. 3 (which at this winter latitude is about 10 a.m.), unmarked, window-blackened police cars descended upon the main intersection in Vashon town, tires screeching as they rounded the corners and slid to a stop. Doors flew open and scores of G-men—with their long coats, gray Fedora hats tilted just-so over one eye, and their submachine guns at the ready — poured out onto the street.

Within moments, they’d apprehended four elves dressed in red, green and white costumes, along with two pedestrians who, as fate would have it, were wearing the same holiday colors that day. Into the back of the Black Maria police van they went, and before anyone at the intersection could figure out who should proceed next, the paddywagon was gone, and Vashon was once again crime-free.

OK, OK, so maybe it didn’t go down quite like that. I don’t know; I wasn’t there. I’m usually trading insults with my friend Bad Michael at the Burton Coffee Stand on Saturday morning. But the plain fact was that “uptown,” the elves were … gone!

Intrepid recovering journalist that I am, I immediately began investigating, though not too hard. According to the coppers, “da elves was actin’ in contravention of da law, to wit: RCW section 46.61.255(4).” (Not a direct quote.)

Frankly, I couldn’t believe my ears. I mean, I can barely remember my own address; how’d these knuckle-draggers remember all those numbers? And what’s an RCW, anyway? A bit more digging (albeit shallow) revealed that this bit of legalese says, “No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting employment or business from the occupant of any vehicle.” And I’m thinking, you know, “Hey, these are elves, not ‘ladies of the night!’” Plus, let’s face it, most of these elves are retired folks; they’re not seeking employment, they’re avoiding it like the plague. Which also means they’re smart. Smart enough to know that if you have a business and are looking for customers, a website is way more effective than standing around in the street in a funny outfit. You following me here?

Then there’s the obvious: The elves are accepting — not soliciting, mind you, just accepting — donations for causes like Vashon Youth & Family Services or the food bank. You can smile and drive right past them, giving nothing, because they almost never climb in through your car window and demand payment at knife-point. Also, it is useful to remember that businesses exist to make money; these organizations exist to give it away, in the form of much-needed food and health services.

Of course the coppers have an explanation; heck, they have an entire legal department to make one up! Apparently, they received — brace yourself for this — “at least one complaint” about the elves. At least one? What is that, just under two? Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not seeing that as exactly a tsunami of public indignation. One? Don’t these coppers have anything better to do?

In answer to this question, chief elf Bernie O’Malley says the officers who bundled them off to the clink (I say this metaphorically) were “polite and apologetic.” We’ll of course O’Malley would say that: Even if he isn’t behind bars, there’s always the threat of a speeding ticket for going, say, 27 in a 25 mph zone, or for failing to yield the right of way at the main intersection in town where “right of way” is an apparently incomprehensible notion.

And then there is this: Christmas is nearly here. The elves have only just so much free time for volunteer work before Santa hauls them back up to the sweat shop at the North Pole. Their time for good works is limited.

Finally, I ask you: “At least one” complaint? Was that from the Grinch?


— Will North, holiday traditionalist, candy-cane hater and elf fan, lives on the Island.



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