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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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why My Boss Frustrates Me, Sometimes (Part 3)

I had yesterday off, so I had no idea what I was walking into when I got to work this morning. I see we had a couple of calls since Sunday, so I go up front to see what has and hasn't been done as far as generating death certificates, dropping them off, picking them up, etc. In the meantime, Takes A Day Off was on his way to the Medical Examiner's office to pick up a body. My boss comes in and starts looking through the errand book and sees that Takes A Day Off forgot to take the death certificates to drop off on his way to the ME's office. (These certificates are for the county immediately south of us). So he says we'll have to mail them, be sure and get an envelope typed up and get everything ready for the mail. He also tells me we need to pick up this one particular death certificate, which is just a couple of blocks away. So I get in the car and go after it, plus make a deposit at the bank. When I return, the death certificate and application are right where I left them, on top of the typewriter, waiting for someone to type up the envelope for mailing. It would have taken my boss all of 5 minutes to sit down and type this up, but did he? No, he didn't.

Returning Employee told me that yesterday he embalmed a body, then went on a service. All that needed to be done was to suture the incisions, then bathe. Did my boss do any of those while Returning Employee was out on his service? No, he left it for someone else to do, which is pretty much how he operates. I guess his personal motto is, "Why do yourself what you can get someone to do for you?"

Parts 1 & 2

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Morning Adventures

I was off call this weekend, so I had no idea what may or may not have happened Saturday and Sunday. Turns out, it was a lot! I walked into work this morning to find four embalmed bodies in the prep room, which was four more than when I left work Friday. One of them was viewing with services at 11am. Of course, everything needed to be done: bathing, suturing the incisions, dressing, casketing, cosmetizing, hair, etc. About 8:30am the secretary sticks her head in and announces the family wants to come in at 9 for a sneak preview. We did our best to get everything ready, but we did not make the 9am deadline. I think it was closer to 9:30 before the owner moved the casket into the chapel.
I spend the rest of the morning helping to suture and bathe all the other bodies. Here is the strangest part about all those calls; every last one of them gets sent out of state. I was give the responsibility of arranging air transportation for one of them. I took care of it quite easily, but the airfare was more expensive than I thought it would be. Usually it runs about $400 to send a body out of state, but this particular shipment was about $565. I don't know if it's because of the destination, or just that the carrier is overpriced.
About 10pm this evening, I got a call from the guy I share on-call duties with. He's on his way to another city about 2 to 3 hours away for a call, which means anything that comes in for the rest of the night is for me to deal with.

Monday, June 08, 2009

When Scammers Call

Today, just before closing, we had someone trying to scam us. I'm not sure how these things work, but recently funeral homes have become a popular target. The intended victim will get an email, or a phone call, or, as in my case, a relay call. A relay call is when someone who is hearing impaired calls a relay center, who in turn calls the place of business, then relays messages from you to the other person, who is communicating via a TTY device.

Anyway, the person called and the story went something like this: He lives in our town, and is on a trip to Canada. He gets word while he's away that his wife has died in Nigeria. Can we have her shipped over and do we take credit cards? He then offers to give us the name and number of the mortuary in Nigeria, and will pay via credit card. As best I can tell from searching the internet, the funeral home pays out the money to the "mortuary" which is usually a dummy corporation or a confederate posing as a funeral director. When the credit card is billed, it's either stolen or invalid, or at some point the person will change their mind and ask for a refund via wire transfer or some such.

I put the operator on hold, called the owner and explained the situation. He told me it was a scam and to get rid of the caller. At one point, the relay operator's supervisor broke in and explained that they had noticed an increase of inappropriate usage of the relay service. In other words, the scammers were using the relay service to excess. So I instructed the relay operator to tell the caller we could not help. Not two minutes later we get the exact same call from the exact same person. I told them we just had the exact same call, and to terminate the conversation.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Saved My Boss's Bacon

Yesterday was quite interesting. I was talking with the owner this past weekend about directors completing their files from start to finish. By that, I mean the director meets with the family, generates the death certificate, permits, writes the obituary, contacts the cemetery, etc. There are some directors (I won't mention my boss by name) who have a habit of meeting with families, then passing the file off to somebody else (like a junior director who happens to blog). Yesterday the owner saw this in action, and scolded my boss for treating me like his personal secretary. So I am ordered by the owner to stop doing the file for my boss and start running errands. My boss is then ordered to complete his own file. This particular case calls for burial at the National Cemetery on Monday, complete with honor guard. I got as far as filling out the burial application, then started running the errands. About 4pm today, after I've finished all the errands, I'm putting together the memorial package for Monday, when I notice there is no honor guard booked. So I make a couple of phone calls, get an honor guard lined up, then call my boss to make sure he hadn't booked one and simply forgot to write it down. It turns out that no, he had not. I told him not to worry, I had it covered. The secretary then tells me that while I was gone on errands today, the owner was looking over the board where our services are listed and asked my boss point blank if everything was set for Monday. His answer was, "yes." Good thing I caught that little oversight, or come Monday I'd be at the National Cemetery looking like an idiot.