“You Do What??”

I bag on my job more frequently than I probably should here.  I mean, of course I’ve read Dooce’s story, which is practically the book of Genesis in the blogging world, so I should know better, right? I shouldn’t even mention that I have a job outside of the internet and all things Cat Lady – in fact, I shouldn’t even be human, but a Cylon warlord devoted to the destruction of the human race through this blog. Sure guys, I’m just a harmless cat lady. Come see pictures of my kitten and listen to my human problems while I plot the demise of your people! But I don’t think I’ve crossed any major lines here – everyone loathes spreadsheets and mathematics. That’s just a universal hate, right?

It tells me it hates spreadsheets, too.

Anyhow, spreadsheets aside, my job comes with some serious bonus benefits that I have yet to fully express to you, so without going into enough detail to get me Dooced, I am going to take time out of my day to relate a bit of awesomery so that you can all be jealous of me for two minutes. Everybody wins. Especially me.

The job itself isn’t terribly mind-bending, but the best part about it is telling people I work in the death industry.

Talk about a conversation starter.

When people ask what I do for a living, they’re usually just being polite, or maybe they have a mild interest. They are not expecting the macabre awesomeness that accompanies working with funeral homes and death insurance peddlers. People’s faces light up with morbid curiosity (or disgust, if they are completely repulsed by the idea that people die) and usually the first thing they ask is, “so do you get to have to see the dead bodies?” (The answer is no, no I do not. But if anything changes, I’ll keep you posted). I also get a lot of, “Have you seen that show about the funeral home, Six Feet Under? Is your job anything like that?” (The answer is yes I have seen it, and no, no one has ever accidentally done meth at work while the family grieves the death of their funeral-director dad and bounces in-and-out of unhealthy sexual relationships). Their reactions, in fact, are the complete opposite of how people have reacted to my previous jobs:

“Oh, commercial paint contracting? Huh.”

Or,

“Consumer electronics market research? So what does that even mean?”

Or,

“Barista? You must be a student working on her advanced degree.”

Although there is a fair amount of explanation that accompanies this job as well, it usually involves a good deal more fascination of the part of the listener. When I explain how death insurance works, people often remark, “I thought that’s what life insurance was for?” but no, the two are different. Death insurance secures funeral related costs which have been selected and set (or, locked-and-loaded, as I like to bandy about in the privacy of my own head – because I know how to be appropriate in the workplace), which life insurance does not cover. See, you are learning valuable lessons here. All part of my master plan to annihilate your species.

Then there is the inevitable question, “So does anything weird ever happen at work?”

Hmm, where…to…start…?

It’s mostly a normal job where we do normal things in an office, except we use phrases like “death claim” and “deceased” and “casket” more often than most offices. Sometimes there are very surreal moments, like when I saw that one of my high school teachers had purchased a funeral policy and thought to myself, “Well this is strange, knowing Mrs. High School Teacher’s coffin preference.” Or the time I had to scan and save hundreds of casket pictures with names like “Angel Wings” and “Gone Too Soon.” I made that last name up. I should totally do this for a job, making up casket names.

If I’m being honest though, the weirdest facet of my job is me. I am always catching myself about to make an inappropriate death jokes and sharing way too much personal information at work. At least I’m gathering material for my plans to blow up the universe next book.

So while I would love to be able to say, “Yes, I earn a living wage as an author,” or, “I am a literature professor at UCLA,” working the admin side of funeral insurance will do for now. It certainly breaks the ice when I’m meeting new people.

This is exactly how I picture Death, in case you were wondering. Very dapper and gentlemanly.

Side note totally unrelated to this post: I am noticing I use the word “awesome” and all its derivatives way too frequently.

Note to self: read 50 pages of the dictionary tonight as a form of self-discipline. Then take over the planet tomorrow.


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Comments

“You Do What??” — 12 Comments

  1. How much do I love that you work in a funeral home! I have this raging respect for you that you can actually hold that job down given the infinite weirdness that must go through your head every day. A tip of the hat to you, my good woman!!

  2. I can totally sympathise with Dooce’s story! Many years ago whilst in the grip of my first battles with depression, I was going through a phase where they were messing about with my med’s trying to get one that suits. I worked in an insurance call centre and one day whilst having a particularly bizarre conversation with a potential customer, I scribbled ” I need help!! Where is my Prozac!” and passed it to a colleague, who laughed. Later that day, I got dragged into HR for a meeting with my manager and the HR manager to discuss my ‘note in which I threatened to harm myself’…WTF!?!? and then ended up having to see the occupational nurse once a week for the next 6 months, as they thought I was putting unacceptable pressure on my colleagues by behaving the way I was!?!?! Looking back, I don’t think it was me that needed the help. So, do you ever hear dead bodies go like…UUURRRRGGGGHHHHH…when the office is really quiet? What colours do they make the enbalming fluid in? :-)

    • No way!!! People have no sense of humor. I’m just surprised nothing like that has happened to me. So far…
      The dead bodies are pretty quiet, keep to themselves…and there actually aren’t any where I work, so that’s probably why. Same with the embalming fluid. I think I’d have to climb a little higher on the corporate ladder to get that privilege…

  3. Obviously, now is the time to ask which high school teacher. It’s killing me. No bad pun intended. Haha!!

    At my job I talk way too much about the weight of children under 18 than should be legal. The ballet world is so weird…

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