Saturday, August 11, 2007

Small Town Funeral Director: Always available

One of the things about being a funeral director in a small town is that you must be available 24/7. I currently take one week of vacation and usually of the 11 months left from that 8 of those I will take one weekend off. If you do the math that means I am on-call 342 days per year. There are a few odd times where I need to do something so we will add 7 more days to that and say I am on-call 335 days per year. Now compare that to someone who works m-f and gets holidays off. On top of that on-call means a 24 hour day and not an 8 hour day. You can call the funeral home anytime day or night and if I don't answer the phone myself, the answering service sends me the message immediately. I have a business line in my home and if I can jump out of bed fast enough at 3 am you will get to talk to the boss himself. How many other businesses can say that??

Larger volume funeral home directors are always quick to point out "Well you only serve approx 75 families per year, so most of the time you are doing NOTHING" I absolutely love to hear that. These are usually directors who can recite their schedule for the rest of the year verbatim and will know for the next 5 years what holidays they will have off, or they are owners who have a large enough staff that the business operates without them (sometimes better :)). When their wife asks them "Honey can we go away this weekend?", they say, "Sure, I'm off this weekend". Wifey knows better than to even think about asking that question because A: She hasn't given me proper notice to find another director to cover for me, IF one is available B:If we already have a funeral scheduled this weekend she knows I won't leave because I couldn't relax knowing something was going on at work without me C: I will still need to make sure my part-time help is available as well. So even if absolutely nothing happens for a week or so, I have to be available if it does. So when the kids ask "Dad can we go to the mall Friday?", my response is "Sure, as long as nothing is going on at work".

Now why am I bringing this up in a rant-like manner on a Saturday morning? First off, this is not a rant; it's an explanation. Secondly I got two business (not a death call) phone calls at 8 am this morning. I have worked at funeral homes where I could recite my schedule. I hated it. I hated leaving a family to another director to take care of. I hate not being on top of everything going on (Which in itself causes problems, I'll talk about that sometime later). I like being available.

Maybe next Saturday I can sleep in, if there's nothing going on at work.

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