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, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year And Other News

Happy New Year to everybody. I hope 2009 is an improvement over 2008 for anybody who needs a better New Year.

Tuesday we had a service, and I was off Monday. The service was to begin at 11, with visitation starting at 9am. Since I was off, I was pretty sure that no one had put together the memorial package (the guestbook, thank you cards, memorial folders, etc). Sure enough, I arrived at work to find it undone. Also, flowers were already waiting to be put out, as well. So I put out the flowers, got the package together, emptied all the trash, typed up an application for an upcoming service at the National Cemetery, and a host of other minor tasks, all while answering the telephones because my boss and the secretary were both out of the office that morning. Meanwhile, Returning Employee and Takes A Day Off were busy making sure their cigarettes got smoked and the newspaper got read. So my boss returns from his appointment, and tells me we need to get an urn ready for shipping. So on top of everything else, I packaged an urn, which is tedious and time-consuming. After the service, we all had lunch. Usually lunch is from 12-1pm, but since we didn't return from the cemetery until 1:30, lunch was late. When I got back, I found out that Takes A Day Off had, indeed, taken the rest of the day off. I knew there were errands to be run, but I wasn't sure if my boss wanted me to do them or Returning Employee. So when he came out of his office (he was meeting with a walk-in family), I asked him if he wanted me to run errands. He gets a little snippy and says, "Well, it's almost 3, I think we need to get them done!" So as I'm walking out the door with my list of errands, I tell him, "Returning Employee's in the garage if you need him to do anything." And I left, taking care of all the errands in a timely fashion.

My New Years Eve ended on a slightly sour note. We got off at 1pm on the 31st, mostly because there was absolutely nothing going on at work. We had one death certificate still at the doctors, but that had not been signed, so all of our errands were done. I left work, and my boss had me take the phones since he was going to the movies with his wife. Sure enough, the phones, which had been absolutely silent all day, start ringing 5 minutes after I left work. First call was a lawyer's office. They lost one of their clients and wanted to know if we had prearrangements. I called my boss and he called the lawyers and got it worked out. (We did-we will be picking up the body from the Medical Examiner's office on Friday). Then people start calling looking for services and a florist for someone we picked up last week. There is a memorial service Saturday at one of the local churches. Between the time I left and about 4pm, I had received about a dozen phone calls, most of which were superfluous.

About 5:30, the phone rings and it's one of the local hospitals. They don't have a morgue, so when they have a patient die, they need pickup as soon as possible. When a family hasn't decided on a funeral home, we usually get called because we are there within 30 minutes. We hold on to the body until the family can either be contacted by the hospital or they have selected a funeral home. So I take all of the information, then call my boss. He's already in the movie so he tells me to send somebody else, which I did. When my boss is finished with the movie, he calls me back wanting the contact information. I give him the numbers I was given for the family, then he asks if they have been notified. I told him that I didn't know, because the nurse didn't say I never thought to ask. So he wants me to give him the number for the hospital. I pull up my Recent Calls on my phone and read him off the number for my last call, which I forgot was my mother calling on her cell phone. My boss calls me back saying the number I gave him was wrong, so I just pull the phone number out of the book and give it to him. Then he calls back complaining the number I gave him for the family was wrong. I told him I gave him what I was given. He wants me to look it up online, but the number is unlisted. All the while he's giving me grief about making sure I get all the information from these calls. Through clenched teeth, I tell him I did get all the information. Since I can't find the number online, I go to the funeral home to get it off the face sheet. When I get there, I see that Mr. Takes A Day Off, who made the removal, didn't get any information at all! So I called the hospital and talked to the person who first contacted us. She says my boss had already called and gotten the phone number! So I called my boss back and asked if he had the right number now. I tell him I'm also at the funeral home, and what he says next just floored me; "You didn't have to do that." My blood almost boiled from my veins. I told him, "Well, you were so worked up over getting the phone number I came in to see if it was on the face sheet." He tells me has the right number now, and he's already made contact with the family. I told him he really pissed me off with his comment about getting "all the information." It made me feel like he thought I was doing a half-assed job. He starts lecturing me on how important it is to contact families as soon as possible in these conditions. I asked him if I should have called the family, and he admits that it is something he needs to do. So in the back of my head I'm thinking, "OK, it's important to contact families ASAP, yet you waited until your movie was over..." It turns out it is to be a full service, with viewing and visitation, so before I left I got the body on the prep table, cleaned and closed the eyes, positioned the hands, then left. My boss came in later and performed the embalming. The family is coming in today (New Year's Day) to make the arrangements.

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