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road sage

Dear Andrew:

Thank you for your letter entitled “Dear Santa: What I want for Christmas.” It’s a busy time of year up here at the North Pole. The elves are working on last-minute gifts, Mrs. Claus is baking goodies, and me and my team of reindeer are in training, preparing for my big night. Christmas Eve here we come! Ho! Ho! Ho!

But what a wonderful surprise it was to receive a wish list from a grown man, one obsessed with cars and driving, and who so frequently finds delight in criticizing the motoring habits of others.

Santa and his realm are usually the purview of innocent children, but by sending me your list, you have proven that even an old, selfish, cynical, solipsistic, greedy, whining, envious scribbler and “comedy professor” can still believe that a portly stranger in a red suit with a white beard will give him free gifts if you simply write and ask for them.

It gives me great pleasure to reply. I’ve decided to deal with your wish list in an item-by-item manner.

1. While I can sympathize with your request that I “smite” those who park in bike lanes, it’s important for you to understand that Santa Claus is not a Roman god who exacts fitting and ironic punishment on those he sees as sinning. I deliver gifts. I don’t smite. I would, however, like you to know that if I did have the power to smite, one of the first groups to receive a smiting would be the morons who park in bike lanes, endangering the lives of people whose only crime is lessening pollution while staying fit.

2. Santa always appreciates when good little boys and girls allow him some leeway when delivering gifts. For instance, “I would like a doll” is an easier request than a “I want a Barbie Christmas Chelsea Doll.” I cannot, however, give you, “any car whose name does not end in the letters van.'” I don’t give cars. If you want a car on Christmas morning, then you have two options: One – get cast in a television commercial as the less-good-looking husband whose better-looking wife gives him a new car with a big red bow on it. Two: give up.

3. I sympathize with some of your other requests. For instance, I think everyone would like to see an end to drunk driving, yet it seems to be making a comeback. So far this year in York Region, there have been around 1,400 criminal impaired-driving charges laid. Last year there were approximately 1,200. The York Regional Police have started a “name and shame” campaign, publishing the identities of those charged. It’s a bit like making someone wear a scarlet letter. I don’t think it will work. Those people have no shame. All I can give you – and all the other adults of legal drinking age – is the wisdom to know that if you drink, you shouldn’t drive. Anyone too stupid to know that deserves to be in jail.

4. I am not able to give you “any car” whose name ends with the letters “aserati” (see item two).

5. Re: “This Christmas I would like cruise missiles or similar satellite-guided projectiles aimed at people who drive slow in the passing lane.” I’ve got the elves working on this one. On the surface, it seems illegal and a tad extreme, but on second reflection, it holds up. I’ve put a few of those “Elf on the Shelf” guys on it (they’re already angry), and at present, the big issue is matching payload (a warhead) with an aircraft propulsion system contained in an airframe with small enough wings for flight control. Given how slow left-lane hogs drive, we won’t need to worry about having the missiles fly at subsonic speed.

6. No, you will not be getting any vehicles whose names end with “MW” or “rcedes” or “udi.”

7. I will give you some advice. You want to experience a little driving pleasure? Go to bed early, get up around five, grab a coffee and take your car out. You’ll enjoy relatively clear roads and the sunrise. In this age of congestion and construction, that’s all you can hope for.

8. Finally, want to beat the traffic? Invest in a sleigh.

Merry Christmas,

Santa Claus

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