Big things are happening here on the brighter side. And with those big things, I am in need of help. So, I've been teaching new people to do what I already do best. Organize a nice straight line of cars to process out to the cemetery.
It was my newest employee's first day on the job. Since he's been a friend for some years, he'd had the pleasure of attending my brother-in-laws funeral recently. So he knew that sometimes funerals are more of a life celebration than a sad affair. But since I had no contact with the family that we were serving this day previous to the funeral, I had no idea what we were in for on this cool winter morning.
We arrived on scene and I proceeded to instruct him on the prep work that goes into making sure that we get everything right. We set up cones and signs in the parking lot to help direct the traffic and went inside to see what kind of car list we were working with this day. That's when I saw that the list was nothing more than a dozen names scribbled on a piece of paper so tiny that you could barely read them. There was little more description of the vehicles involved than "blue car" or "bike". Yes, it's winter. Yes, I just said bike. The deceased was a biker. These are always fun funerals.
As people started to arrive, we tried to sort out if they were on the list for the first line or if we needed to put them in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th lines. More and more people showed up. We still didn't have the family that was to go in the first line that follows behind the hearse. We couldn't fill up the second line because we needed to be able to squeeze the first line in when and if they arrived. Finally, the last car in the first row arrived but still no sign of the others. About 15 minutes before the service started, the parking lot is reaching maximum capacity and some of the first row finally arrived. Some are on motorcycles and others in cars. They wanted all the bikes behind the hearse with the cars to follow. We did our best to accommodate them. Still more cars arrived even past the start time of the service. We were out of space and still missing some of the first row. We had people parked in lots across the street and next door, flagged and ready to go, with instructions to fall in behind as we processed down the road.
Red Solo Cup by Toby Kieth. And the party began. I'll let your mind wrap around that and jump ahead to our trip to the cemetery.
It is not the law, but is customary in our small town to pull over to the side of the road to let a funeral procession pass by. Out-of-towners may not know our customs and also sometimes when approaching from the opposite direction, it is difficult to tell what is coming at you. We've had this problem before and I've written about it. This time, it was the motorcycles behind my hearse that were riding in on-coming traffic, forcing them off the road. The director signaled to them to stay in the line but they didn't seem to want to listen. At one point there was a motorcycle riding next to the hearse in the on-coming lane. Fed up with this dangerous problem, the director called the state police. We were hoping for them to pull the offenders out of line. Instead, the police followed us to the cemetery and before we carried the casket to the grave site, scolded the bikers. No one got a ticket for reckless driving. But it didn't look so cool in front of all their friends. I don't think it did much good though. Just after the police left, they lit up the marijuana.
It was a great first day on the job for my newest employee. But if he can handle a day like this, he can do anything.