The internet, the greatest invention in the world, has probably ruined everyone’s life at least once.
I’ve been fired, ridiculed, rejected and otherwise scorned because of things I have said on the internet or things other people have said about me. It happens. The good news is, because it happens to everyone at one point, it’s become about as common as any other trifling embarrassment. Eventually, people get over it and move on, and those drunk bikini pics just don’t matter anymore.
A funeral director recently lost his job because a picture of the hearse he was driving ended up on the internet, parked outside a donut shop with a flag-draped casket in the back. His actions were considered disrespectful to a deceased veteran, or at the very least, unprofessional conduct unbecoming to the image of the funeral home.
The way the internet responded, one gets the impression the funeral director was sitting at a table stuffing his face with donuts while the body of a fallen hero languished in the back of the hearse, ignored as though he were merely a commoner.
The reality of the job is that one of our duties often includes driving long distances. I have driven a casket – or sometimes an uncasketed body – as long as four hours. During that time, I will eat, pee, and gas up as necessary. No one gets to decide how often it’s acceptable to use the bathroom while working, or what food is acceptable to be seen eating. As long as the body arrives at its destination on time and undamaged, we can have a damn donut if that’s what we want.
Suppose this donut shop was the only establishment in the area, and the funeral director had to use the bathroom? What is he supposed to do? What if he were hungry? What if he was getting butt cramps from sitting and driving for so long and needed to get out and walk around? What if the hearse had no air conditioning and he needed to cool off inside a building for a bit? What if he JUST WANTED A BREAK?
I believe people are overreacting for two reasons: one being the choice of food, the other being the body was a veteran.
Would anyone care if he had stopped for some organic free-range wood chips wrapped in gluten-free lettuce?
Would anyone care if the flag on the casket was a Mexican or Islamic flag? Let me rephrase that: if a funeral director had parked the hearse in public with a casket containing the flag of an Islamic country, what are the chances the tires on the hearse would not be slashed and the windows not be broken?
No one is mad that an overworked funeral director actually stopped working long enough to consume food. You’re mad BECAUSE AMERICA. You, who perhaps never served in the military and don’t really like the idea of your own son getting killed for freeeeeeeedom, don’t give a damn about donuts or respect for the dead but still…AMERICA!!!
If you would not be outraged at someone eating a donut while carrying the body of a homeless person; a prostitute; a murderer; a 400-lb man who gorged himself to death; a drug overdose or someone who could have signed up for military service but chose not to, YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT RESPECT FOR THE DEAD.
I recently did a service for a man who killed himself in prison. He was convicted of the murder of his wife, and a few months into a 20-year sentence, decided he had other plans. I was afraid of the victim’s family perhaps showing up and creating a scene at the service…something I have seen many times. I’ve seen fistfights break out. I’ve had the police show up.
But this service went on like any other service. There was a viewing, then a Catholic mass, then a burial. It was not any different than any other Catholic service…nor should it have been. In death, we are all equal. The body of a murderer deserves the same treatment as the body of his victim.
One man died while jacking off to child pornography. Several thousand images were recovered from his computer and his home. It was truly an unpleasant call. But I had a job to do – carry out the disposition of the body according to the state law and the wishes of the next-of-kin.
“There is no avoiding a discussion of the circumstance of the death or how your son spent his life. But you knew things about him that I did not know. You knew who he really was, before he became someone you did not understand, and I’d like to hear about that.”
If you would not take care of this pedophile’s body in the same manner in which you would arrange the services of a U.S. President or a Nobel Prize winner, get the hell out of the funeral business. Go work in a prison.
If you believe that Osama bin Laden’s family should not be served in the same manner as the family of Elvis Presley, go sell cars or something.
Osama bin Laden had children. So did this veteran who got stuck with the donut-muncher. Whose children are more important? Whose mortal remains are more important?
I did work for a company who fired one young driver for stopping to eat while on a call. But in that situation, he went to a sit-down restaurant and ordered pancakes before he had the body. Then, after picking up the body, he drove to a friend’s house to play video games. That is unacceptable. That is completely different from grabbing a quick bite and using the bathroom. That is blatant disrespect for your job and for the person entrusted into your care.
If I send someone else to pick up or deliver a body, I want that person to be well-rested and well-fed in preparation for the drive. That means he stops driving when he needs to. That means he eats. As long as the body is delivered on time and the casket is not damaged, he can have all the donuts he wants.
To the guy who got fired – if I find your information, there’s a donut shop gift card headed your way.