A job agency in Germany is having difficulty finding enough people to work as Santas, creating a Santa shortage in the country, Reuters is reporting.

At least with the economy down, there's a job that won't go away -- until Dec. 26.

Apparently in Berlin there's a shortage of chubby, cheerful men with fluffy white beards who want to work one month a year -- and they must not have a criminal record. The pay's pretty good, too -- up to $75 an hour, or 60 euros.

"Being Santa is not an easy job," Jens Wittenberger, in charge of Santa Claus recruitment at the Jobcafe Munich, told Reuters. "To be honest, not many people have what it takes to be a good Father Christmas."

The agency wants its Santas to be child-friendly, good organizers, reliable and have acting skills.

"You can't have your Santa drive up in a car," Wittenberger said. "Every child knows that Santa travels in a sleigh pulled by reindeer so we don't want to disappoint anybody." Santas are told to park their cars a few streets away and walk.

I was a mall Santa while in college, and better than the pay was the fun of talking to the kids and hearing their stories. The beard was scratchy and carrying a few extra pillows around kept me warm, but I'll never forget the little girl who saw me as she entered the mall and came running to me yelling "Santa" the whole way.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job hunt at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com


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