Archive for Deceased

EPISODE 26 — It Was Greek To Us

Posted in Cemetery, Death, Embalming Room, Funeral, Funeral home, Funeral Service Professional, Humor, Life, Mortuary, Relationships with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2014 by Morguie
Angel of Patience
Pissed Angel of Patience

Disclaimer: The following account is a very true story, of course, names of agency and persons have been changed. HOWEVER, this is NOT a typical (at least we hope it isn’t) example of an “everyday” experience one might expect to encounter in any national consulate’s office. We hope you just enjoy our experience, all the same —however oddball and unsettling as it was at the time, so many years ago. We are certain diplomatic protocols have changed to be more friendly since the 90s…we…hope. 

lemmling_Cartoon_mouse_on_top_of_a_cheese 

It was an early Spring day and C J and I were taking a little break from a flurry of cleaning activities in the prep-room.

We emerged to set upon the steps out back so C J could indulge in her cigarette habit as I took in a little of the warmth on the soft earth. Just then, I spotted a fetching dandelion, about to go to seed! Ha! A nice treat that would be…

…or not! Just then, Mr. Becker appeared and I scrambled furiously up the cuff of C J’s pant leg, which elicited some vocal excitement from her and an equally surprised look from Mr. B as I did so.

“C J! What is the matter with you? Always so easily spooked! You really ought to cut back on that fancy coffee you drink so much of…” he rambled.

“What did you need, sir?” asked a startled C J, hurrying to her feet.

“I need you to take these papers for Mrs. Galey down to the city, to the Fantasian* Consulate’s Office,” he said.  We were going out of town today. Going on a long trip, oh boy!

“Yes sir, I’ll go up and get my things put away and get ready to leave right away,” she answered.

reaperreaper

Within half an hour, we were headed down that long road leading toward the metropolitan place they referred to as ‘the city.’ That place was huge and fascinating, but as a mouse, I can say with certainty that I would be terribly frightened to have to fend for myself in such an expanse of noise and concrete and cars.

Skyscrapers

Mrs. Galey was a ‘ship-out;’ that meant she was going to be sent for burial in another country. She came from Fantasia and that is where she wished to return for her final resting place as well. Sometimes these arrangements were made without any hitches; others were rife with problems. For C J, they were always an adventure. I liked it when we could get away from the old routine and hit the open road! We had never been to the Fantasian place before.

It was a long journey of more than two hours before we finally pulled into the very center of the downtown business district of the metropolitan city area. The buildings rose up to meet the blue sky like tall, blackened glass candles. I got dizzy just trying to see to the tops! I felt the plunk of a hand push me down into the briefcase, saving me from myself, as I nearly toppled off the zippered edge looking all about.

“Stay down or ELSE!” C J admonished in her loud whisper as we entered the door of the elevator. Of course, I did as told. I could feel the funny flutter in my tummy as we flew up the floors to our destination and very relieved when we exited at the 18th floor and made our way to the front desk of the Fantasian Consul’s office.

C J was handed some odd paperwork and asked to fill several pages about herself out as we waited for our turn. I poked my head out to see that she was perplexed with each progressively, personally probing page. Her brow furrowed, at first, and then there was an unmistakable scowl. Oh my! Whatever could be the problem?

C J rose from her chair, crossed over to the receptionist, and politely asked why she was being made to fill out these questionnaires. The papers were job applications! She was met by a blank stare and no intelligible answer from the doe-eyed dodo behind the desk. Dodo picked up the phone and, in a language assumed to be Fantasian, spoke to someone briefly, and hung up. Dodo managed a weak smile and said we could go in now.

Office Chair, gray and steel

We entered a spacious, light-filled suite which contained three desks and a whole lot of clutter dripping off  the shelves. There were two men and a woman, each at a desk littered with piles of papers and computers and such. They spoke to each other in harsh, strange language of their own, not of English; they waved C J to sit, in bare acknowledgment of her entrance into the room. They continued to banter amongst themselves for what seemed an eternity before one of the men motioned to C J to hand paperwork to him. In doing so, C J quickly snatched the papers beside me in the case, nearly lifting me out with them.

How do they get any work done?

It was all so off-putting, the gruff way he grumbled as he rifled through the neatly typed bundle of documents she’d presented. C J was shrinking in her chair, I could see. The moments ticked by like hours, as he seemed to ignore her there in front of him. Suddenly, in a burst, he jumped from his chair and literally threw the pages at the woman across from us at the next desk! The outburst in Fantasian was akin to what I assumed would be a curse word!

The woman replied with a gasp and spat out the word “Galey!” The look of disdain on her face was dark and ominous! She glared at C J with a curled upper lip as she picked up the paperwork to read further.

C J became even smaller in her chair…almost as if someone had just walked over and slapped the poor girl!

The woman began to speak loudly in her foreign tongue and repeated the name ‘Galey’ with indignity numerous times as she pulled a stamp pad from her top drawer and began to violently, deliberately stamp each page in the bundle. What in the world could be wrong?

English: A desk in an office.

English: An office chair that can swivel and b...

This went on for another fifteen minutes…I tell you, it was weird and tortuous. C J sat like a captive in her chair, frozen, unable even to flinch or speak. Meanwhile, the two men and the woman were engaged in what seemed like a personally charged argument, with animated hand gestures punctuating each retort and rebuttal. The debate went on. Periodically, the name ‘Galey’ flew from the lips of the woman and she made the spitting gesture at the paperwork, again rubber-stamping as she did so. It was surreal.

English: Busy desk. Español: Escritorio lleno ...

After another thirty minutes of this angry weirdness, the woman hurled the bundled documents at the third man, missing his head by a mere couple of inches. The inky, crumpled mess landed on the floor behind his chair and the whole rigmarole began anew. He shook his fist and threw a paperweight at her…it missed and landed in the waste can. YIKES!

This was getting serious! I crouched low in the briefcase. I feared that we might never be able to leave this awful place. Was this about to turn into an international incident?

Then, it became quiet.cropped-mousecringe.jpg

We were finally able to leave after another hour. C J stuffed the papers into the briefcase and rushed out of the suite, half-running for the elevator. We could hear the voices and yelling resume as the doors shut behind us.

C J was just so happy to have an approval for Mrs. Galey to be able to be flown out and accepted in her homeland for burial after that incredible experience. After all, it was up to those people to permit this and it sure wasn’t looking favorable, the way things were unfolding in there.

I didn’t understand why all the fuss. Give me some crackers and I am happy just handling the cares of being ME, thanks!

On our way home, we talked about the ordeal and we came to our own conclusion that the Fantasians must not have been too pleased that Mrs. Galey had apparently married an Anglo, or an American, and not a Fantasian — as apparent by her name ‘Galey.’

We never really knew for sure, but that’s the best answer we could come up with, because, as the old saying goes: it was all Greek to us.

©2014, C.S. Thompson.


* fictional name for the actual national consul’s office where this true event took place

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Episode 5: A Most Unexpected Turn of Events

Posted in Death, Embalming Room, Funeral home, Mortuary with tags , , on May 13, 2013 by Morguie

Image

As I’d mentioned last time, I have a poor circadian cycle; that’s the wakefulness and sleep cycles MOST creatures have built into their bodies…a body clock. Chester, like most cats, has practically no body clock, therefore can be on the prowl at any given time. But, for myself, the same can also be true. I must always be on my guard here in this expansive house because Chester could be anywhere. As a mouse, my vision is low, and this means I travel along the baseboards most of the time. I awoke in the wee hours, to a commotion in another room. I must have slept the entire day away. OH NO! Cousin Sid was to come for a visit yesterday! Where must he be? Oh my…must be on my feet and try to see if he ever arrived, I panicked.

 

I popped out of the hole in the brick through which I entered and ran the length of the walls from the main parlor, down the hallway, to the basement stair. I could see the light coming through the space under the door down at the bottom. The commotion was coming from there, in the basement, also known as the “Prep-Room” or embalming room. I made my way to the bottom, squeezing easily through the familiar space where the door jamb meets the baseboard. This is the place I mostly live. CJ must be working on a fresh case.

 

CJ is the embalmer in her second year with this funeral home. It is quite common here for her to be called from her sleep in the middle of the night, to go out to a nursing home, a hospital, or even a private residence to pick up a deceased person and bring them back to be embalmed or bathed and made presentable before placing into the cooler.

Mr. Becker is the owner of this place. Been in business almost 50 years. He is ‘old-school’ in that he expects ’round-the-clock availability of his staff during their five-day weeks here. CJ says that is really old-fashioned ethic, and that modern, “big-city” funeral homes are  conglomerated by huge companies that do not work their staffs this way. But this is NOT a corporate place. And Mr. B is the Boss. CJ never seems to mind the odd hours, though. Or that on some days, business is such that she is literally on the clock twenty or more hours. This is her dream — to be a licensed funeral director and embalmer. To most, it is more of a nightmare, in their minds, that anybody in their right mind would ever dare to ‘dream’ of this work. Or hanging out with dead folks.

CJ says someone should be called to do this special work. Like one is called to the priesthood. 

I think I would have called a doctor, first.

 

I timidly make my way towards the table, where she is carefully massaging the rigor mortis out of the limbs of the old soul lying on the table. CJ sees me and immediately I know what is going to come out of her mouth: “MORGUIE!! I hope you know that Mr. B is really PISSED OFF at me! I told you about making extra sure not to be seen, by ANYONE or ANYTHING! Chester was after you in the parlor and I got into big trouble!”

 

I curled into myself and winced as she yelled. I know that she lied to Mr. B and told him she succeeded in killing me in a trap. Of course, we ARE located just across the road from a field, which is just on the edge of the main town. I mean, there are others like me out there. It is possible that others might be within these walls.  But, she doesn’t talk back or argue when Mr. Becker tells her to do something. He expects results, today, or really five minutes ago, more preferably.  I give her my most pathetic face, to gain her mercy. She stares sternly down at me and I can see she is not falling for my pitiful look. She goes back to her work at the table, when I give up and begin to head to my nest.

 

I am nearly asleep, when suddenly, CJ exclaims loudly, “CHESTER! Oh God, WHAT IS THAT?”  I run to see through the crack in the wall what it is that is horrifying her. And what I see horrifies me more…

 300px-Common_mouse_0010_Nevit

…poor Cousin Sid, whose lifeless body Chester promptly releases and drops onto the tile floor. 

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