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, July 25, 2008

Today Sucked

Sorry to be so blunt, but that's about the sum of things. Let me start by explaining that my boss is on vacation for a week. The owner is available, but generally doesn't come in unless he's needed. That left me and the secretary to run things today. She decides she wants to take a day off since there's nothing much going on and she's caught up on her work. She left about 9am. The phones were very quiet, so me, Errand Guy and Returning Employee are just killing time. About 10am me and Returning Employee start getting ready for our Saturday visitation. We've got to dress the body and place it in the casket. No sooner do we start working on this project than the phone starts ringing. I have to stop what I'm doing and go answer it. It's one of our families from last week and they need some paperwork faxed.

I get the information and set it aside, intending to work on it when we finish with the body. So I go back to helping, and the phone rings again. This scenario played out a total of three times before we finally got the body ready. Once we get finished, the phones go quiet again. By this time it's lunch, and everybody leaves, including the owner, who came in to meet with a family. No sooner does the building empty out, leaving me the sole employee, than the phone starts up again. I'm answering phone calls, and right in the middle of all that, people start walking in. One person is a friend of the owner, so I tell him the owner's out right now. Then the phone rings again, and while I'm on that call, this old couple walk in wanting prices. I get them taken care of, in between phone calls, and finally, at 1pm, I get to sit down to lunch (which is 12pm under normal circumstances). By this time, everyone, including the owner, has come back, and of course, the phones go silent for the rest of the day.

It always seems to happen that no matter how slow and quiet a day is, as soon as you are left alone things will start to go nuts.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I arrived at work this morning with the knowledge we had one funeral. Imagine my surprise when I saw on our board that we a second funeral scheduled for 11:30 today. This was a one day viewing/visitation, with mass immediately following. Visitation started at 9am, so we had to hurry up and get the person ready and put him in the viewing room. My boss took the first funeral, and I handled the second one. So, despite the change of plans I talked about in my last post, I ended up with own funeral, after all.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Change Of Plans

The funeral I was to lead on Monday has been moved to Tuesday. The family was worried that they wouldn't be able to get everything done by Monday morning, so they pushed it back a day. That suits me fine.

I wrote my first pre-need contract today. A woman called up and said we had handled her father's services years ago, and now she wanted to make her own arrangements. She came in and we discussed what services she wanted, and she payed up front. The nice part is I get a commission on every pre-need I write. So that's a few extra bucks to look forward to.

My wife and I spent this evening shopping for a new gas grill, and a side-entry door for our garage.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Large And In Charge

Today we had two calls. Both services will be held Monday; one early in the morning, the other just after lunch. Since they are both burials, my boss will handling the first service, leaving me in charge of the second service. (The owner is out of town until Wednesday). I'll be in charge of the visitation and responsible for concluding the service at the funeral home and getting the procession ready for the trip to the cemetery. Then, I have to drive the coach and lead the procession, and take care of everything once we arrive. It's not a huge deal, and I've done it plenty of times going to the National Cemetery, but this will be the first time I've done it all from start to finish. Wish me luck.

P.S. My son had his first beer last night. He didn't care for it a whole lot. I told him beer is an acquired taste; you have to work at it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Return Of Errand Guy

My past few posts have been talking about Errand Guy's three week absence from work. Saturday we had a Greek funeral, which are very high maintenance affairs. There were about 30 flower pieces to deliver to church; about 18 standing sprays and a dozen or so baskets of flowers. Errand Guy managed to make it to work at 7:30 Saturday morning. I'm assuming the only reason he showed up was because the owner called him to see if he was going to work or not. I'm off tomorrow, and Errand Guy told the owner he would be at work on Monday.

I have to take my kitten to the vet. It's time for her next round of shots. The following appointment will be for spaying. My boss thinks I should have her declawed, but my wife and I don't believe in doing that. From what I understand, it's similar to cutting the tips off a human finger, and that just sounds cruel. I bought her a scratching post and taught her how to use it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yesterday Was Nuts!

I cannot believe how crazy yesterday (Wednesday) was! Tuesday night my boss calls me to let me know we've got a call, and it's a prominent family and will likely be a big service. He scheduled the family to come in on Wednesday at 10am to make the arrangements.

About a month ago, my boss met with a man who wanted to prepare for his father's funeral ahead of time. Services call for full military honors with an active duty military honor guard. Well, this gentleman passed away Wednesday morning. The son called to let us know, which is unusual. Usually the hospice nurse or the hospital makes those calls. He told us he wanted to follow us back to the funeral home when we came for his father. My boss talked to him and told him to have hospice call us when they were ready for us to come out. He waited about 2 hours before he gave hospice permission to call us.

In the meantime, my boss finishes up with the first family. They wanted services Saturday, so we start calling the church. There were two churches we could use; both were booked. The only time we could get was 8 am or 4pm. So this set off a flurry of phone calls between the family, the priests, and the funeral home. The afternoon was a nonstop round of calls in an effort to work something out.

While this is going on, my boss and another guy go on the other call. The son follows them back and finalizes the arrangements. Bear in mind he's already spent about two hours with his father prior to us coming out. Then he tells us he wants to see his dad after he finishes the arrangements. I could understand if he hadn't seen dad yet, but he just spent two hour with him. As for the funeral, he wanted burial at the National Cemetery and the active duty military honor guard, yet he had virtually no paperwork verifying his father's time in the military. I put in the request to the National Cemetery. They call St. Louis, which is where military records are kept, and verify eligibility, so the burial is set. Then I try to arrange the honor guard, but they won't do anything without proof of service. So I call the cemetery back, asking if they can give me a service number or something to satisfy the honor guard. They can't do that due to privacy laws, but they tell me to have the honor guard call them. Well, the honor guard doesn't do that. So we have to call St. Louis and try to get a copy of his discharge papers. They don't take those requests over the phone, so I had to go to their website and put in the request, which takes 10 days to process! So I immediately call them up and tell them I've put in my request and I need it now. They put me on the fast track and about 4:45pm today, I get the paperwork I need. The honor guard is satisfied and confirmed, and everything is set for tomorrow.

It doesn't sound like much when you read it; you just have to imagine about 3 hours of nonstop faxes and phone calls, trying to get all these details worked out.

On top of it all, Errand Guy is still out. He was supposed to be in today, but didn't show up. About 4pm he calls and says he won't be in tomorrow, either. He's supposed to be on call Friday night, so we'll see if he works if we get a call. He did say he would be in Saturday for the funeral, but I asked my boss, "he'll be in Saturday like he was going to be in today?" The owner is aware of the situation, and said he'll deal with it when he returns to work. He's been out of town for past few days.

What frustrates me about this situation, on top of everyone having to pick up the extra work, is that my boss seems to think this is none of his business. If you have an employee who is under your supervision, how can a three-week layout be none of your business, especially when you own a share of the business?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Errand Guy Update

As you know from my previous posts, our errand guy has been laying out of work for the past two weeks. Friday we get a call from him; he says he has pancreatitis. This is a serious condition; an inflammation of the pancreas. Today my boss comes in and tells us Errand Guy has a doctor's appointment this morning, but may be in after lunch. Not surprisingly, not only did he not come in after lunch, he didn't even bother to call to let us know what the doctor said, whether he could come back to work this week...nothing.

I'm not going to worry about the situation anymore. The owner has been out of town since the 28th. He's due back home on Thursday, the 10th. It's starting to look like he'll be back at work before Errand Guy, and he can deal with it.

Personally, though, I'm torn. On the one hand, I want to believe he's been goofing off and screwing around, but on the other hand pancreatitis is a serious medical concern, and errand guy does have some of the risk factors indicated.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Is Errand Guy Ever Coming Back?

I'm pleased to report that I was able to enjoy my day off. I told my boss he could call on me if I was needed. Thankfully, he didn't, so I had assumed Errand Guy, who took all of last week off, had finally come back to work. Imagine my surprise when I showed up this morning to find that not only did Errand Guy not work yesterday, he won't be in again at all this week. Supposedly, his hernia is acting up. Personally, I believe that like I believe Jeffrey Dahmer was a vegetarian.

It's one thing to come to your boss and say, "I'm having some issues, I need time off." It's quite another to keep stringing everyone along and have them pick up your slack just because you've got issues. We've been having to run his errands and make his removals while he's been playing hooky, and today my boss told me that I'm his back-up when he's on call. This means that if my boss is making a removal, and we get another call while he's out, I'll have to do it, even though I'm not on call. Thanks a lot, Errand Guy...