Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Where do I work?

I have found that many people are confused as to what exactly it is that I do or even where I work. So, I'll try to clarify it for all. My life/business partner and I are self employed subcontractors to the funeral business.

The funeral business, like most, is a constantly changing one. If you live in a fairly populated area, you may have noticed that the old funeral homes are disappearing. They are giving way to the mega-funeral factories. With more people than ever on this planet, it only stands to reason that there are more deaths than ever before. And with the way we move about, there is no loyalty to the old place where your great-grandfather went through his transition into the afterlife.
Also budgets seem to dictate to us how much we can spend on the final farewell. The families are left with more debt from hospitals, credit cards and the cost of the funeral itself. There's no doubt where the budget cuts are going to be. We are seeing a drastic increase in cremation rates versus traditional burials. Since people are now allowed to have a detailed receipt of the funeral expenses, they are also able to say "Maybe we don't need this or that". Often what they decide to cut out of the plan is the transportation to the final place of rest(The hearse ride). With fewer people using the hearse, many funeral homes are not able to justify the expense of owning and operating such an expensive vehicle. That is where we come in.

We own and operate the hearse. We are called in only for those "full service" funerals. By not working exclusively for any one place, we are free to fill in the empty days at another place. So, that should answer the question of where we work. It's anywhere. Often it will be at a funeral home and sometimes, at a church.

We do have a few regular accounts that generally keep us busy. We will also fill in where a larger funeral home that has there own hearse, needs another because they are double booked. Additionally, we work with our competitor. If we are overbooked we can call him to fill in and likewise, we will help him out.

Some months we will have twenty or more funerals and other months only five or six. You just never know and there is no set schedule. We typically have only a day or two notice that we need to be somewhere. I love what we do and it can be a very rewarding career in the fact that we are helping people when they are going through a lot of pain. However, five funerals barely pays the bills, let alone ME for a job well done. That is why I work four nights a week as a midnight supervisor at a large well known 24 hour pharmacy. By working at least 30 hours a week, I am afforded the things that most people have in there lives. For example, benefits, vacation, etc...  Without it, there would be no brighter side of the grave. My husband also works a full time midnight job. By working overnights, we  are free in the mornings to run our business without the hassle of having to rush home to go to work. Unfortunately, like many people that work two jobs, sometimes sleeping in the afternoon gets sacrificed. That is why we try to share the responsibilities. Since I work only 4 days, I do most of the funerals. But, credit must be given where it is due. Without him, this business of ours would not exist. He has taught me much of what I know.

When we met, he had a removal business and I ran my family's limousine company. After 9-11, many things changed in my business that led to us closing. We then combined our skills and developed what we now have.

Then just to make my life interesting, I started working at one of the funeral homes that has an account with us in the evenings. So yes, I have a morning job, an evening job and a night job. I try not to work them all in the same day. Although my concept of "day" is a little confused. My morning job is very much like most people having a night job. I wake up, it's one day and come home it's another and then I go to work again. Have I mentioned that I also hold a degree in commercial marketing as well as one in interior design.

That leaves the question of "What do I do?" Well, I think we will leave that for part 2.


Jabacue said...

Much like the series "Six Feet Under" when they were approached by a mega company. Boy, you are one busy guy Stew! It appears you like what you do. Ever use your design degree?

Stew said...

I will take on the occational side job from time to time(if time allows). Generally, my skills are wasted on my own home, over and over.

PhotosbyErich said...

Wow. No one could ever accuse you or your husband of being afraid of hard work, Stew! It's obvious that you are there for families in need and that they are blessed by what you do.

I just don't know how it is that you get by with so little sleep or rest! That sounds tough...