Bankrate: Insurance seems to be getting steeper by the day for businesses.
Santa Claus: My health insurance premiums are the worst. My HMO claims I'm "too fat," so they raised my rate 75 percent. Plus, the way I fly, I had to make all these modifications to my sled to get it covered. Seat belt harnesses, padded interiors. It takes a lot of the fun out of flying. The danger was part of the thrill. Now, I'm like a kid in a womb in that thing. I'm a grown man, for crying out loud. Let me take my own risks.
Bankrate: Any other special insurance you need?
Santa Claus: Dung insurance.
Bankrate: Excuse me?
Santa Claus: If reindeer droppings hit a house or car -- or person -- they could sue. I'm insured.
Bankrate: Good point. The elves tried to unionize a few years back, and it didn't go well. What happened?
Santa Claus: Look, I didn't know a lot about the unions then. I just knew that people who knew nothing about my business were trying to interfere.
Bankrate: There was talk of goons...
Santa Claus: Untrue. They weren't goons. They were polar bears. Locals. They live here.
Bankrate: Let's talk about the Village itself.
Santa Claus: I own the property that Santa's Village rests on, as well as the buildings themselves. I was lucky. I bought early -- around 1700. Got a solid deal from Peter The Great, who was in the process of moving on. The value of the property is up around 15,000 percent. It was a good deal.
Bankrate: That's the best case of getting in early I've ever heard.
Santa Claus: Sure, if you ignore that I had been renting for 1,000 years before that. Renting! What an idiot! I could have been so much wealthier. Oh well, be grateful for what you have.
Bankrate: Is it an expensive property to maintain?
Santa Claus: Heating bills. You can't imagine.
Bankrate: Gas heat?
Santa Claus: Whale blubber.
Bankrate: Gotcha. Let's talk travel expenses.
Santa Claus: Good topic. Business-wise, the smartest thing I ever did was move from ocean-based, rowing propulsion to air-based, reindeer-propulsion.
Bankrate: You used to travel by ship?
Santa Claus: Can you believe it? But that's business. You make your mistakes early and you learn.
Bankrate: So what's involved in maintaining reindeer?
Santa Claus: Not that much, thankfully. It's surprising how much they eat of what's just laying around the woods.
Bankrate: How do you get the reindeer to fly?
Santa Claus: Proprietary technology. Can't really talk about it.
Bankrate: Because there have been rumors ...
Santa Claus: Yeah, I know. (Sigh.) Look, I can't give away all my industry secrets to address every crackpot theory that comes down the pike. But I promise you and all your readers that steroids NEVER came into play here. Not now, not ever.
Bankrate: So that whole Rudolph controversy...
Santa Claus: He had a cold! Let it go!
Bankrate: Any other expenses involved in the travel?
Santa Claus: Dry cleaning bills and suit storage get very costly. People don't realize I'm sliding down chimneys all night. I go through about 750 suits in one night. The soot cakes up really fast. Funny story -- I had this accountant once who tried to convince me that I should bill the families with the worst chimneys for "chimney sweeping services." Needless to say, he wasn't with me long. That's clearly not in the spirit of what I do.