sixtiestosixties

I was something in the 60s but now I'm just sixty something.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funeral

Laughing all the way.

” Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Now that I have made it to the other side of a cluster of funerals, I can draw a deep breath, dry my eyes, and see that people plan funerals with the same personal flair they plan any other event in their life. For example, my mother-in-law’s idea of a dinner party was to serve cocktails made of lemonade and cheap whiskey and boil up some meat. I never could understand this bland streak in her as she was a very talented artist and knew how to put verve in a painting. Never the less, she buried her dearly departed husband in a nice shade of beige. His face so matched his jacket I had to do a double take to see if he had been dressed at all. Her plan was to give him the same type of Catholic service she took comfort in her whole life. A mass with the right prayers, the right eulogy, the right decorum… the right rites. Something in perfect control. What she did not plan on was the homeless man who wandered in out of the rain, sat right next to the family, and began to join in the responses and sing off-key. The church funeral committee was flustered. The priest looked nervous. My Alzheimer stricken mother-in-law was terrified. And I was choking back laughter at the whole bizarre scene. Nobody knew what to do with him. I just figured we should let him be. It was a church after all and as they say “WWJD”?

A few months later when my dad died, he had picked out everything and pre-payed his bill. I don’t want to say my dad had no taste but he did have a tendency to gravitate to the tacky side. So when the funeral parlor brought in his casket, in my highly emotional state, I blurted out ,”Look, he blinged out his coffin just like his Cadillacs.” Really, it had way too much detailing. Fortunately, not many people had arrived. This was, after all, retirement Florida and I could have offended a number of people who had gone for the same upgrades on their cars and caskets. And speaking of funerals in Florida, the people come dressed in their golf clothes so they won’t miss their round for the day. You never know, it could be the last one. Some of the gentlemen were wearing the same outlandishly styled plaid pants they wore to my mother’s funeral some 17 years earlier. I wonder what their caskets will look like?

My mother-in-law had been planning her own funeral for years. She had written down all the things she wanted to be buried with as if she were an ancient Egyptian. Her’s was to be a Catholic mass…the higher the better. Her eyes sparkled in spiritual ecstasy when she talked about it. (We did not call her St. Dorothy for nothing). I know she envisioned a church full of mourners. But she outlived everybody. Including the people she knew from church. So what she got was a deacon darting into the funeral parlor to say a few words. Apparently, if you outlive your tithe you don’t warrant a mass. I kept expecting her to jump up and tell us we were all going to hell for treating our beloved mother so badly by not having communion. We were maybe a dozen strong for the actual “mc service”.  We did have a woman show up like she was going to a Victorian funeral. Saint Dot would have approved of her attire. The woman was dressed in black from head to toe including a veiled hat and gloves. Really creepy. She went on and on about how she used to go to my mother-in-law’s art shows. I was thinking, “That’s nice but who the hell are you?”

There have been other humorous moments in the midst of extreme sadness. We snickered at Uncle Pete, who at 96, was buried without his teeth which was appropriate because he wouldn’t wear them when he was alive either. My daughter-in-law’s father, who was a great kidder in his 50 years, found a way to play one last joke. When a snake crawled out of a floral arrangement in the middle of his funeral everybody figured it had to be his doing. And even at my precious nephew’s funeral, who died way too young at 27, we laughed at his antics as they were recounted by his many friends.

So how about you? Have you ever laughed at a funeral? Were people appalled? Or did they laugh with you?

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Customer Service

Do you see a package here?

I’m so glad big companies did away with their outsourced call centers. You know, the ones where we couldn’t understand what anyone was saying. Things are so much better now that nobody at all is working in customer service. At least the automated voice doesn’t hold it against me when I tell her to bite me.

I ordered a replacement water filter for my refrigerator and after being assured it was in stock I chose to pay extra for a quick delivery. When it hadn’t arrived in two and a half weeks I decided I should call the appliance company back and check on my order. I began this ordeal with an attitude of patience because if I spent time doing this I could put off something I wanted to do even less. There was the usual “push 1”, “push 2”, “your call is important to us” bullshit. If they really thought it was that important they would actually pick up my call. Their real strategy is to make you give up and hang up. When I finally got through to someone she assured me that according to the tracking number my water filter had been delivered. Wrong! I know it never landed on my doorstep. I paid for three-day delivery and was watching for it. I know what time the truck comes down our street. I was home that day at the exact time of said delivery. The appliance company told me that since they had received confirmation of the delivery it was up to me to deal with the delivery service.

Next I called the delivery company’s 800 number whose mechanical voice gives you three options, none of which is to report you didn’t get your package. Neither is there an option for speaking to a real person. They did offer a list of local stores with addresses and store hours. This might have helped if I wanted to send something instead of receive something. Then I discovered if I waited around and pushed “1 for more information” I could get a phone number to a local store. I doubted the locals could help me but I figured they would know who could.

So I called one of the local stores and a real woman actually answered the phone! I asked her, in pressurized speech, before she could hang up or put me on hold, how I was supposed to report that I had never received a package that was recorded as delivered when the number you are supposed to call doesn’t allow for that. I concluded she must get this question frequently because she answered in an equally manic voice that if I were to press “0” four or five times at three-second intervals I would get an operator. Then she immediately hung up before I could thank her. Or ask her anything else. No one calling the 800 number could had uncovered this information simply by listening to the menu. Do they actually want customers?

So again, I call the 800 number for the delivery company but this time I am running out of patience because by now an hour has passed and I am beginning to think of all those things I hate to do that I could have gotten done in that time.

Then I found myself in conversation with a machine.

“Press 1 if you…,” the mechanical voice chirped.

“Bite me. I’m pressing 0,” I replied.

“Press 1 if you… ”

“F*** you. I’m pressing 0.

“Press ‘1’ if you…”

“Ha! You think I’m stupid? I’m pressing 0.

And so the conversation went until at last I got a real person. I explained my problem to the man and was then put on hold until I could to talk to “someone who could help me”. While holding I’m wondering what the first man was paid to do if he couldn’t help. At last the lone customer service worker in this multi-billion dollar shipping company cheerfully explained to me that the appliance company I ordered from was the account holder and they would have to initiate the tracer investigation for claim purposes. I bit my tongue until it bled because she was real and obviously overworked  and my mother taught me not to swear at people. Then I dialed back right where I started from.

In the meantime, there is a bright, blinking, annoying warning indicator on my refrigerator lighting up the kitchen at night. And although I have paid for a replacement part I have no idea when or if I’ll ever get it. Anyone want to place any bets?

Could it be here somewhere?

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