And So Begins My New Life

Join me as I embark on a new life and new career in Funeral Services.

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Location: Southeast, United States

I'm a Funeral Services graduate embarking on a new career. I graduated high school in 1981, served honorably in the United States Navy from 1982-1986, been married since 1986, and have one son. I've relocated to a new state and have begun working in my chosen profession of Funeral Services, and I've never been happier.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

What A Day!

When I went in to work this morning, I didn't expect to have a whole lot to do. All of our services had been concluded and we had no bodies in the prep room. We had one ship-out to take to the airport, but our errand guy usually does that. However, today he called in sick, so I ended up making the airport run, which was a nice change. It's about a 90 minute round-trip, so it's good for killing half of the morning.

On the way there, I get a call to run by one of the doctor's offices on my way back and pick up a completed DC (DC=Death Certificate). When I got to the office, the only one who was there didn't know anything about it, and the only reason she was even there in the first place was to collect the mail, since the office has been closed all week for Christmas. So I get back to the funeral home, and find out we have a body in the prep room.

In the meantime, we get a call around 11am or so; one of our other death certficates is ready, but it has to be picked up by noon as the doctor is shutting down early for the weekend holiday. When I return from that trip, I see that one of our hearses is gone. That usually only means one thing; a death call. (It could also mean "oil change" but we did that Wednesday). So during lunch the owner meets with the family while I type up the first call and get the death certificate ready. After lunch, which I had to take an hour late due to all the embalming and preparation and so forth, I tried to drop off a death certficate, but that doctor's office was closed. Then I went to the health department to file the completed DC's we did have, then the hospital to get yet another DC signed, then the crematory to drop off some paperwork and pick up cremated remains, then the Post Office to pick up a U.S. flag, then back to the funeral home, where we immediately started working on our inventory for year's end.

After that, I put together the memorial packages for the two, count 'em, two visitations we have over the Holidays. One for Sunday, one for Monday. Guess who gets to work all weekend long? That's ok, I still love my job, and for Holidays, we get time and a half. Plus, I never do anything for New Year's anyway.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Router Headaches And Wireless Fun

My son received a wireless capable notebook when he graduated high school in 2005. When we made the move to my new location, we signed up for DSL internet. Unfortunately I neglected to specify a wireless modem/router when I ordered, and they sent me a regular DSL modem. So for Christmas I bought my son a Linksys wireless router. My wife received a second-hand computer from my step-father, who had bought himself a new notebook. So I bought her a wireless PCI card so all three of us could access the internet at the same time.

Guess what I spent most of Christmas morning trying to do? I got the router hooked up to my computer and DSL modem, but I couldn't get it to access the internet. After about 4 or 5 hours of trying various configurations and monkeying with various settings, I took my router out of the loop, got back on the internet and downloaded a utility from the Linksys website, which took care of everything in about 5 minutes. Why didn't they package that utility in the box along with the setup software, or instead of the setup software?

Once I got that working, I tested it with my son's notebook to see if he could have wireless access. He does! So then I start on the PCI card for my wife's desktop. I followed the instructions exactly, installing the software first, then the hardware. I got a connection to my router, but it would not connect to the internet. I monkeyed with that for about an hour or two before calling it quits. Today I downloaded the latest drivers from the manufacturer's website and reinstalled everything, but it still didn't work. Finally, in frustration, instead of using the manufacturer's software to control the wireless PCI card, I just let Windows handle it, and within 5 minutes I'm on the internet.

My next challenge, if I decide to do it, is to see if I can get all three computers to share files and so forth. I know nothing about networking, so I'm not sure if I should try this or not.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Note that I didn't say the sanitized, politically correct, leftist approved "Happy Holidays."

I don't want to turn this into a political rant, so I'll just say that society cannot ever avoid offending all people at all times. Regardless of how you try to clean up, alter, revise, or avoid certain sayings, someone will be left out or offended or feel isolated. Jewish and Muslim peoples feel left out of Christmas because their religion does not allow that Christ is our Savior. Ok, that's what they believe, and I respect their right to worship as they choose. As a Christian, though, should I feel offended that Hanukkah decorations and observances neglect my belief system, or that, as a descendant of white European males, Kwanzaa makes me feel left out?

Do you see how utterly ridiculous this all is? Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Another frustrating experience occured today, which could appropriately be filed under the label "failure to communicate." The owner asked me to phone the cemetery and let them know we will be having an entombment later this week, probably Thursday. These were more or less his exact words, "Call the cemetery and give them a heads up, let them know this body is coming, probably Thursday." Now, at this point, all we knew was that we had a body that was being shipped in from out of state. That's it. Period. We did not have the visitation scheduled, we did not have a funeral scheduled, we hadn't even spoken to the family. In addition, this was my first time dealing with a cemetery and trying to schedule a burial.

So I call the cemetery and tell them, more or less, "This is Granimore at XYZ Funeral Home, I'm calling to let you know we have a body coming in from out of state, and we will need an entombment, probably Thursday. Just wanted to give you a heads up." The cemetery representative said, "Ok, just call back when you have all the details." End of phone call.

My boss immediately starts in with, "You handled that all wrong. You should have given them the name, found out about opening and closing costs, and any other fees the family needs to know about." Now, he was sitting right there when the owner told me to make this phone call, and I got pissed. I pretty much snapped at him, "Well, you could have told me all this BEFORE I got on the phone!" He counters with, "Well, that's how you learn, by getting in there and doing it." To which I replied, "Yes, but you heard what the owner said, and that's exactly what I did. I should have known what to ask before I got on the phone. You could have told me."

From now on, when I'm asked to do something like this, I will be sure to ask what information I need at hand, what the cemetery or whoever I'm dealing might need to know, and any other special instructions I need to be aware of.

Before you get the wrong impression about my training, please bear in mind I only post the frustrating, negative experiences. Overall I am receiving decent training.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Is Almost Upon Us

I was clicking around the various blogs I read the other day, and I came across one that had a countdown clock showing the days remaining until Christmas. I was somewhat surprised to see that the counter read 12. I mean, I knew that day I was surfing was December 13th, but it didn't click in my brain that we were less than two weeks away from Christmas. I still have some shopping to do, some of which I will be doing online as soon as my wife leaves the house (I'm buying for her), and some I will be doing on my next day off, which will be Thursday, the 21st.

Work is going very well. I'm still learning, and boy, is there a lot to learn. I've been trying to take on increasing responsibilities as I feel capable. Sometimes I take things upon myself, and sometimes I step back and let others lead. So far this approach is working fairly well, but sometimes I will overstep and have to back off a little bit. This weekend I will be covering the phones, which I don't like doing. The reason being is sometimes we get calls wanting prices and such, and I'm not prepared to handle that. My boss wants me to take their name and number, then call him or the owner and relay the message. I have no problem doing that, but people can get strange when it comes to giving out their phone number, and I know that if I call someplace for information, and no one there can help me and I have to wait for someone to call me back, that usually doesn't present a good first impression. Sometimes, if I think I can help them with questions other than pricing, I'll try. This is what usually gets me in trouble with my boss. I'll fill him in on the conversation and how I handled it, and he'll tell me everything I did wrong. Not that I did it wrong, exactly, it's just that I didn't handle it EXACTLY the way he would have, therefore it's incorrect. That sometimes drives me nuts.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Finished With My First Family

The family that I sat with on Sunday came in today and picked up the cremated remains of their loved one, as well as paying us the balance due for services provided. I'm glad everything has been accomplished for them and glad they have the cremated remains back. I don't know when I'll be sitting with my next family; I guess that depends on how business goes this month and how many families want direct cremation or have pre-arrangements for direct cremation. Today we got our 274th call for the year, which is quite busy for a small operation like ours.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sitting With My First Family

I sat with my first family today, with the owner listening in from the next room. Overall, it went well. I missed a couple of details, such as whether the family wanted an obituary notice locally and/or in an out of town paper. I also explained our prices at the wrong moment, but I did explain them, sort of. I could have done a better job at that, but in part I split the blame between myself and my superiors. I could have been better prepared, as I knew last night this was coming, but they also could have done a better job preparing me, as well. Still, I am satisfied, as was the owner. He said I did good for a first time and not to worry about the small mistakes I made.

Three Calls In One Day

Today was a busy day for me. I'm on call, and we had three calls come in today. The first was a house call, which I did solo. It went fairly well. I may end up making arrangements with this family myself. We'll have to see what happens. I'll keep you posted. The second call was at a nursing facility, and that was no problem. The third call was a house call, and I took care of that solo, as well. In all, I've done four solo home removals.

Somehow, in between all these calls, we managed to decorate our Christmas tree.