One of my more interesting jobs was answering the phone for the State run funeral service.
I had already learnt my lesson – about induction courses.
So I applied myself fully to the job training.
I wasn’t worried, attitude gives you altitude as they say.
I can handle anything.
In funerals it’s about getting the job done, dig a hole,pick em up, put em down.
In the call center, it’s all about up-selling.
Relatives of the dead are worse than tyre-kickers. Massive time-wasters.
They’re the last people you want in a showroom.
So cut out the showrooms give everyone the same casket – and start selling.
Wreaths and flowers are ordered online or in a phone call.
The cleverest part was putting open casket as the standard option.
As they explained in the job training – open caskets are open for add-ons.
20% commission on a big ticket item is a salesman’s dream.
There’s some big mothers out there,let me tell you.
The grieving say yes to anything.
I had this down.
Friday – Last Call
We always finished early on a Friday and always made a joke about the last call being the worst.
Sure enough at 3.55pm, five minutes before time,I got stuck answering the phone.
Grief hits people differently. Sometimes you just go cold. Able to speak and react but broken inside.
Fortunately for me, on the other end of the phone, I don’t see their dead,broken souls.
I just think “This one seems polite,” or “Should be an easy sell.”
The guy on the other end was very quiet. He must have been dead inside.
“I’ve got a question about the open casket.” he said.
“Yes sir, we have a number of options.”
I was straight into spiel mode.
“We have open casket. We can have him flat or sitting up.”
“No. It’s about the casket,” he said.
“What were his favorite positions in life? Do you want him shot glass in hand or a cup of tea?”
Presentation was everything. Present the body well gets the mourners to cry – get their money when it was their turn.
“Do you want any gestures?”
“We have a 2 handed special on at the moment, if you go for the shot glass we have
a two fingered gesture we can throw in for free.”
“What about Facial expression?”
Man on Fire
I was so excited at all the options I could offer I just kept talking.
“Grimace is standard but Happy is our best seller.”
“One person went for the joker grin, but he was a comedian.”
“We can casket him in the Living room or facing the entrance – a proper meet and greet. Our current best seller. ”
The other end of the line was quiet. I hope I hadn’t lost the sale.
“Sir, are you still there?”
“Please let me speak.” The guy said.
“It’s the casket you’ve left at the house,” he said.
I hated those Friday calls. Those slackers at reception put the call through to sales when
it should have gone to support.
No commission on this one. I’d have to wrap this up pretty quick.
I’m not a charity.
“I’m sorry Sir, What seems to be the problem?” I said.
“It’s not my father.”
PART II Appears tomorrow
I do wonder why standard caskets would not work in the real world – not the willow world above.
The funeral is a part of the grieving process,bringing everyone who knew the deceased together.
But is it also a way to show you care by buying a more expensive casket than you can afford?
Is it a way to show social status, a decision based on the fear of what others may think of you?
What would the living think of you if you buried your mother in a cardboard coffin?