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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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Taking Time Off

In my previous post, I was discussing my frustrations with working on my days off. Wednesday, we had a huge funeral. Probably 150-200 people, with about 20-30 cars in procession. Well, despite the huge turnout, which we knew was coming, one of our other employees was able to enjoy his day off!

I don't care anymore. I'm going on vacation a week from Monday. My boss will be at a football game that following Saturday. He was fishing around to see if I was going to cover the phones for him that day. I pointed out to him that I would be on vacation and the answering service could cover the phones. After all, we pay them whether we use them or not. We rarely do use them, as the owners like us to cover the phones ourselves as much as possible.

I'm not going anywhere on my vacation. My wife will have a couple of days off with me. We might take a day trip to see her Aunt and her Grandmother. All I know is, I won't be at work, and I won't be answering the phones.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Spoke To The Owner

I spoke to the owner today concerning my frustrations with routinely having to work on my day off. I checked my time sheets last night; it turns out that in July, August and September, I have had to work on one of my days off. In addition, I also had to work last night, even though I was off call. I also mentioned this to the owner.

He understood my frustration and appreciated my candor. His only suggestion was to speak up when I didn't want to work on my day off. While that sounds good in theory, in practice it can get a little tricky. After all, it's not like we have a large pool of employees we can call in when needed. There's just six of us.

Still, it felt good to vent.

Mr. Takes A Day Off stopped by today while we were embalming a body. He asked about what services we had Monday. I pointed out that we did have a funeral, then asked him if he would be there, and that I was working on my day off so he had better show up! He said he would be in to work on Monday.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The More I Think About It, The More Pissed I Get

This will probably come as no surprise to anyone who reads this on a regular basis, but Mr. Takes A Day Off was out most of this week. His regular day off was Wednesday, then he came in on Thursday, stayed about an hour, then complained he wasn't feeling well and went home. Today he didn't come in at all.

Wednesday, while he was off, we got a call. The body was at the Medical Examiner a couple of counties over, so I was sent to get it. It was about a 2 hour drive, and it was good to get out for the afternoon. As soon as I got back, we embalmed the body and went home. The visitation was today; I'll get back to that in a minute. (On a side note, these were the directions to the ME as given to me by my boss. "Take the interstate north for exactly an hour, then exit at {town name}. Turn right and go into the downtown. On the far side of downtown you'll see three and four story buildings. The ME's office is back in behind those buildings. You'll find it." I did, but I had to ask directions from the police department, which I did find.)

Thursday, while he was out, we get a call. We were expecting this one, we just didn't know exactly when it would come. The person died about 2 hours away. Once again I was sent out. I didn't mind these drives. I got to spend some quality time with myself, eat lunch out for a change, and basically just enjoy the scenery. This funeral will be Monday. I'll get to that in a minute.

The owner met with the first family Thursday while I was gone. Even though I'm not on call, it was decided that I would be working the visitation. Normally, my boss, who is on call, would work it, but he had dinner plans. He asked the owner if Takes A Day Off could work. The owner said he would prefer I work it. So even though I also had plans (softball night for my church team), I was made to work. What kills me about this is we all know when we're on call. We all know not to make plans while we're on call, yet my boss decided it was ok for him to take his family to dinner in the Big City tonight. Why couldn't he have made his plans for when he was completely off?

Monday is supposed to be my day off, but our secretary is on vacation. Whenever she's gone, I usually step into her shoes, taking care of the paperwork, answering phones, etc. Since we've got a funeral Monday, guess who's getting screwed out of their day off yet again?

This will be at least the 3rd or 4th time in the past couple of months that I've had to work on my day off. In the meantime, Takes A Day Off seems to be able to dictate his own work schedule, regardless of how busy we are or what is going on around the funeral home. I may sit down with the owner and express my frustrations to him. I almost did it tonight, but I knew he had other plans and didn't want to slow him down or put a damper on his evening.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Working My Tail Off

Things have been very slow this week at work. Our last call was Monday afternoon. Other than that, there hasn't been anything happening. So yesterday and today, everybody except my boss and the secretary was summoned to the owner's house, where we spent the days pulling weeds from his flower beds and cleaning his gutters. Today, we laid new landscaping mulch. It's been a very hot, tiring 2 days, and I'm glad the weekend is here.

Tomorrow we plan to go to a local theme park. I'm looking forward to riding the rollercoasters. The whole family is off this weekend, and this will be our first significant outing together in a while.

Tonight my son and I played softball on our church team. For the second week in a row we had our butts handed to us on a silver platter. They finally invoked the mercy rule and ended the game about 10 minutes early. That's how bad we were playing. However, we played better than last week, so if we can improve each week, that will be ok.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Why My Boss Frustrates Me, Sometimes (Part 2)

Last night (actually, early this morning, about 3am) I get called out. When I got to the funeral home this morning, I see that we have prearrangements. These call for direct cremation, with no services, so my boss wants me to call the family and set up a time for them to come in. He then tells me that the spouse may be too old or infirm to travel, and I may have to do everything over the phone. He also tells me to get started on entering the files from the other three calls we'd had since Friday evening, and also to clean up the chapel in preparation for this evening's service.

The first thing I get to work on is the files, because doctors need to be confirmed so we can generate the death certificate. Besides, it's early and I don't want to call my family and wake them up. In the middle of all this, one of our other families comes in and sits with my boss to finalize everything for services tomorrow. Our secretary is out of the office, Takes A Day Off guy is running errands, and our other employee is putting our second viewing room, which we needed for this evening, in order after dealing with a plumbing leak and wet carpeting.

The last thing I want to do, since I'm covering the phones by myself, is get my family on the phone and end up having to make all the arrangements by phone, possibly being forced to repeatedly put them on hold while I answer the other three lines. So I decided to wait until either my boss was finished, or the secretary came in from her appointment.

By the time this happened, it was about 10:30am. My boss was free, the secretary was back, and I was ready to make the call. The family called in and beat me to it, which caused my boss to chastise me for not calling sooner. I tried to explain to him that I was worried about getting tied up on the phone while I was basically by myself, but he didn't care about that.

Anyhow, I deal with it, meet with the family, then run and get my lunch. It turns out that while I was with my family, we had another call. Anyhow, I sit down and eat my Arby's and have a cup of coffee, and my boss comes in wanting to know what's up with this newest call. I have no idea because I was in no way involved with it whatsoever. So he looks up the prearrangements and finds we have information on the call, and the body is to be embalmed. So after a whole 15 minute lunch break (lunch is supposed to be an hour), he tells me to get the body on the table and start getting things ready. So we get the body embalmed, then he hands me a re-order for death certificates and a couple of burial/transit permits for the health department. So I make that run and come back and take care of some business.

About 4pm the family for the re-ordered death certificates comes back looking for them. My boss did not tell me to expedite them, so I have to call the health department, see if we can get them first thing in the morning so the family can have them for their lawyer's appointment. Fortunately, they were ready and I was able to run and get them while the family waited. When I got back, I had just finished giving them to the family and getting them a receipt when my boss comes in. He finishes up with the family, and after they are gone I tell him I had to run out and get them. He gets mad at me for keeping the family waiting! I told him that he did not tell me to get them immediately. He says, "I didn't tell you to, but what do you think I sent you up there with a reorder for?" I told him that he had said not to fax our reorders anymore, because they don't always get received. Basically, he got mad because I should have known to get the certificates immediately without him making it explicitly clear.

Finally, as we are leaving, he tells Takes A Day Off that he needs to deliver an urn and flowers to the National Cemetery first thing in the morning. Takes A Day Off reminds my boss that it's his day off. This throws a wrench into my boss's plans for the day, so as I'm leaving I say out loud in his direction, "Make him work. I had to work on my last day off. Am I the only one who gets this kind of treatment?" I doubt they heard me.