Like an ice cream truck, but with only one popsicle?

14 Jul

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Yesterday morning at work, before anyone else got in, Margaret asked for my help selecting a bouquet of flowers to send to a funeral. We chose an arrangement online, but when it came to order, we were a bit stumped.

“Name of the deceased?” the form asked.

Margaret’s cursor hovered in the space noncommittally.

“What’s the hold-up?” I asked her.

“I don’t know her name.”

“You’re sending flowers to someone and you don’t know her name?” I couldn’t compute.

“No, you dumb-ass,” she corrected me. “The funeral is for my friend’s mother-in-law. How would I know her name? I never met HER. In fact, this form is lame. Why does it want me to send the flowers to the attention of the deceased?”

Before I could offer an explanation, Margaret was on the phone, calling the funeral home to ask for the name.

I marveled at how her voice changed when someone answered: The same girl who had just cackled and called me a dumb-ass was immediately all subdued and somber, as if she were dialing into a live funeral at that very moment.

“Way to be a grown-up,” I gave her a thumbs-up as she hung up.

She rolled her eyes.

It made me wonder if funeral directors get tired of having to act as if everything is SERIOUS. There’s no  way to cheerfully answer a phone at a funeral home without it seeming a bit inappropriate.

Then I smacked my forehead, because I’ve actually babysat for the owners of a funeral home before, so I know first-hand what it’s like when the phone rings.

Wait? How does babysitting for a mortician qualify me to answer this question? Well, as you may have learned from watching “Six Feet Under” — they’re called funeral HOMES because the owners usually live above them. It creeps some people out to know they’re sharing space with dead bodies, but it never rattled me.

And it clearly didn’t bother the kids I babysat, because I remember one evening in particular. I was whipping up some Mac N’ Cheese, when the business phone rang. (I knew it was the business phone because it was a different color than the home line.) Their son, a mere toddler at the time, exclaimed, “Oops! Another dead body!”

As if the ice cream truck were coming.

4 Responses to “Like an ice cream truck, but with only one popsicle?”

  1. Kim Pugliano July 14, 2011 at 10:52 am #


  2. Marg Z July 14, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    The aroma of mac and cheese mixed with formaldehyde – yummy! Sounds like an awesome gig.

  3. MaximumWage July 14, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    Fun blog post! As if she were calling a live funeral. 🙂

  4. popdialectic July 15, 2011 at 4:44 am #

    If you babysit very late, do they call it the graveyard shift?

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