"Flying out of the North Pole is the easy part," says a ruddy-faced elf named Ninimdir who happens to be Santa's chief operations manager. "Finding skilled volunteers who know their way around a bunch of countries can be a bit difficult. Santa wants his helpers to have a good understanding of all the countries they visit. Otherwise we could easily get behind schedule delivering all of those big packages!"
As the cold northern winds rattled the window panes, Santa's many volunteers were huddled together in small groups within their ice-sculpted classrooms. There was plenty of excitement in the air. For many of the young eager volunteers, it would soon be their first sleigh ride across the planet. Prepping for the big day, they were studying maps, reviewing flight procedures, feeding the reindeer and playing a new online globe-trekking game called Pangea Tutor.
"Pangea Tutor is a great educational game for us new recruits," said one wide-eyed young man. "It teaches us about the many countries we will be visiting on Christmas Eve. My friends back home don't realize that Santa is probably the most well-travelled grandpa on the planet. I don't want to look foolish turning the reindeer towards Mongolia when he requested Australia instead!"
The Pangea Tutor website seemed to be a fun-filled way for Santa's young volunteers to learn about real-world locations. Suddenly shouts of laughter echoed across the room as one of the students mistook Germany for Argentina. Wow, a mistake like that could be a disaster! Thank goodness Santa's workers were sorting out their logistical hiccups in advance, otherwise there could be a lot of sad German kids without their gifts this year.
It was only at the end of my North Pole visit that I fully realized how confusing any new location can be. Arriving at the Reindeer Airlines ticketing counter, I was given my flight boarding pass. My airline ticket only listed a single destination…
As I looked out the plane's window and gazed out upon the starry night, I felt a sense of adventure at the idea of not knowing my final destination. Would I end up in Austria, Brazil or maybe even New Zealand? Who knows. Maybe now was a good time for a little refresher course on some countries south of the arctic circle. As my plane zoomed south, I pulled out my iPad and logged onto PangeaTutor.com. Location is everything, especially when you don't know where you are going!