The 12 Days of Christmas: A supply chain lament

What else can we do but laugh and cry and hope for better days?

On the first day of Christmas, my true love tried to send to me 12 drummers drumming. But, because the drum parts were held up in Taiwan, the drum factory in southern Malaysia couldn’t make them in time to get on store shelves for the make-or-break selling season. They’re in a container off the coast of Long Beach, Calif.

I’d love to transition the drummers to domestic production, but because we began outsourcing more than 10 years ago, we have no capacity here anymore. We sold our factory to Google, which converted it into a server farm. Fortunately, I got the drummers jobs at the nearest Amazon distribution center, where, if Amazon TV ads are to be believed, they can soon get training to become nurses.

My true love also sent 11 pipers piping, but only five made it to the house. Three went down sick with the Omicron variant, and another three are long haulers from the first Covid strain, so their respiratory issues prevent them from piping anything anymore. 

Five pipers piping? It just isn’t the same.

I’m sure you’re wondering about the 10 lords a leaping. Funny story. The lords were en route when Southwest Airlines abruptly canceled 100 flights because of staff shortages. While waiting for new itineraries, they ran into the nine ladies dancing, ended up in an Orlando airport bar and, well, one thing led to another. After a massive group wedding, they’ve established a pop-up community near Lakeland.

Now, the eight maids who were supposedly going to do the milking went to a #metoo rally, realized they were anachronistically trapped in gender roles dating from the late 18th century when the song was written, and abruptly quit. I don’t blame them one bit. Plus, I drink only oat milk these days, so . . . 

Which brings me to the seven swans. The drought of the past summer dried up the lake so badly that there’s no place to go “a swimming” anymore. So, the swans are on hold, as are the six egg-laying geese. Something about an aggressive species of these honkers showing up in Arkansas from Africa such that they’re getting quarantined at ports and airports. 

You would think five golden rings would be easy. There’s no shortage of gold, rings are portable, and virtually all jewelers carry them. So far, so good. However, my true love ordered these rings in the new Metaverse. Long story short, it turns out the rings are only a figment of Mark Zuckerberg’s imagination. I’d need an Oculus to even see these rings. Maybe my avatar can wear them.

My true love clearly has a bird fetish, because the elaborate parade of gifts was to next include four calling birds, three French hens, and a pair of turtle doves. The four birds are anti-vaxxers, so when they found out I’m pretty gung-ho about making sure everyone gets vaccinated, they just stopped calling. Rude! The French hens are in lockdown in Paris, and the turtle doves decided during summer to begin teleworking. We haven’t seen them except on Zoom since July. Damn turtle doves.

That leaves only the partridge, which I did receive, but the pear tree is stuck in a warehouse in Kennesaw, Ga., according to the FedEx tracking information. No delivery date is listed; the app just says, “In transit.” And my calls to the logistics company? They just leave me in automated message Hades. “Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.” 

So, there you have it. Supply chain woes, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the climate catastrophe have brought down even a treasured seasonal song and, with it, what could have been cherished avian gifts from my true love, who, by the way, left me. She said, and I quote, “There is no such thing as truth, only perception.” That’s not when my postmodern, erstwhile “true” love left, however. She flew the coop after I accused her of plagiarizing Gustave Flaubert but before I could thank her for furnishing me with a “flown the coop” metaphor in a column about birds. 

Anyway, on the plus side, with just the partridge and me, we don’t have to worry about the collective bird shit of 22 other flying, flapping creatures of varying sizes and appetites. It’s a Christmas miracle. 

So, there’s always a silver lining. May your holidays and new year have one, too. 

(Anyone know what to feed a partridge?) 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll covered the international home furnishings industry for 15 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He chairs the Department of Communication at Berry College in Northwest Georgia, where he has been a professor since 2003.

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