Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Head on with Darwin

It started out as a simple funeral. The deceased man's wife did not want a long drawn out procession. She intended on meeting the hearse at the cemetery to witness the burial. No slow parade or big show, just the basics. Well, when her son got to the church, he had other ideas. He asked the director where to line up for the  procession. When the director told him that his mother had requested no procession, he told the director " I know you have a job to do, but it's my dead father and I'm going to the cemetery." He was invited to meet us out there at which he replied to the director that he was going in the procession. Of course we don't want to argue, so we went to his mother and she said to do whatever he wanted, with a roll of her eyes.

So they all lined themselves up behind the hearse. The nice thing was that I didn't have to stand out in the cold waiting for them as they arrived. However, without my direction, the parking lot was a mess. We had some people lined up in a line that wrapped around the lot. And others trying to park in "regular" spots in the middle of it all. By the end, there was no room for anyone else in the lot and everyone was "parked in" so no one could move. I really saw the importance of my job of keeping an organized lot.

The service itself was nice. With a great tribute to the man who had died and a long sermon to follow by the minister who's name was of all things, Darwin.

When we pulled out of the lot, we went very slowly because we still had people trying to join the procession. Remember, they were all parked so no one could get out. We had someone stay behind to put flags on the cars and get the headlights on as they joined in.

It wasn't long before the director in the lead car called me to ask if I had noticed what was happening behind me. As I looked in the side view mirror, I was horrified! That son that had insisted on the procession was swerving into on coming traffic forcing them off the road. He was insisting that people pull over to the side of the road in respect for his father's funeral procession. While it is a common courtesy in some areas to stop for a procession, there are no laws on the subject and people don't have to stop. Often, people don't even realize that it is a procession until the first few cars have passed them. I noticed one lady staring at my hearse, only to look up and see that this guy was directly in front of her in her lane coming head on, headed right for her. Since we were out in the country on this one, the approaching traffic is going 55mph or so when  they are confronted with on coming traffic in their lane. This woman hit the gravel on the side of the road going full speed, almost rolling her car into the ditch. Even going around some blind curves, this guy was forcing people off the road. There was two points where we almost stopped the procession in the middle of the road to reprimand this guy. We travel in procession for safety. We create awareness so that everyone can get to the cemetery safely. When we start causing traffic hazards and people get hurt, then the game is up. We ended up slowing the line of cars to a crawl so that we made more of a scene and hopefully get people to pull over before being run off the road. Finally we reached the cemetery and finished our job. We chose to have Darwin talk to him back at the luncheon instead of causing a scene at the cemetery.

I think that it is a nice thing to do, if safety permits, to pull over and let the procession pass. But like I stated, there is no law saying that you must do so. Sometimes it just is not safe and others, people have not realized what they are seeing until it's already passing by them. I think that we handled the situation the best that we could. What do you think? Should we have confronted him?


Anonymous said...

Jack wrote: "Confronted him? I'd called the cops before he killed someone. There is really no excuse for stupidity!"

Anonymous said...

Mark wrote: "Tho I can see various sides to your issue, I think the highest priority should have been that he was causing a potentially life threatening problem, and should have been addressed as quickly as possible."

Jim said...

That son was obviously 'losing it' and appeared to have some issues with his Mom, so I would have 'nipped it in the bud' ASAP. You guys didn't need the hassle he was causing and the potential accident waiting to happen.
Stew, a tough position for you to be in.

Stew said...

You are all making some valid points for confronting him. What we have to remember is that each person reacts differently to death. There is no right or wrong way to cope with your loss. It's yours and we can't tell you how to feel or what to do.
We also don't want to lose a potential sale in the future by making someone mad.
We try to guide the situation knowing that most people don't know how things work. We try to eliminate problems before they occur. When something does come up, we deal with it as discreetly as possible. to have stopped the procession or even confront him at the end, would have caused a stir with a hundred or so people. That's a hundred or so future clients.

But I completely agree that this man needed to be knocked down a little.

Coop said...

I think you should have confronted the son. He had absolutely no excuse to do what he was doing.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...thats a tough one. Your right people deal with death in different ways crazy ways.

I think there were some issues between the mother and son which may have prevoked the sons behavior. He may have felt as if the mother was not wanting to honor his father by having the traditional procession?? I think you handled it great by not confronting the son. Had you confronted him it would surely have caused more of a scene, which may have prevoked him to be even more aggressive. You slowed down the procession to a crawl to make it REALLY obivous to on coming traffic. Thank goodness you or no one else was hurt! But I do find some amusement in the fact that, who would have thought your line of work would have as much drama as it does..I mean these people are dead, but I guess its the living that causes it..huh?

I did not know it wasn't a law, I guess I assumed funerals ranked up there with fire trucks etc. I always pull to the side myself...I suppose its my way of paying my respects.