Dead on Arrival

My Very Worst Job was at a funeral home when I was 19. It was during summer at college and I was actually working three jobs at the time: full time days answering phones at a law firm, part time at a department store and on-call at the funeral home. The funeral home was a family owned affair and housed in an older home. The offices and viewing rooms were on the first floor, the basement held the embalming room and other gross functions (the door opened off the kitchen area) and the upstairs was actually an apartment for the director (creepy, no?). They had a full time receptionist/office manager, but they did not want to pay her any overtime, so they had me on call for anytime there was an evening visitation. Someone had to man the phones and direct visitors to the restroom. Also I later found out that part of my duties would be to go into the visitation room (where there would be prepped bodies) and write down details about all the floral arrangements: who sent them and what they were. While I think this is a nice service the funeral home provides to the family, I certainly didn’t want to be the one who did it and it wasn’t in the job description.

I really had no training and wasn’t there very often, so the worst part was when the office manager went on a week long vacation and they asked me to fill in. I had to answer the phones, which wasn’t too bad, but then the director came in and needed me to send a newsletter to all the other locations. I had no idea how to even consider doing this. None of the other employees were helpful, as all of them hated their jobs but also had no clue what the office manager did or how she did it. There was a terrible video I had to watch about selling pre-paid burial plans and caskets and while I know this is a part of life (and death) it was just more than I bargained for. Then the director, who was a jerk and made me feel uncomfortable, took me upstairs to the apartment to show me some stuff that he easily could have brought down to the office. I was so nervous I didn’t comprehend any of it. I managed to muddle through the week, barely. The next time they called me to come in for a visitation, they woke me up from a nap and I mumbled, “I’m sorry, I can’t come in, I have to … do … something … else.” They never called me again.

Comments (26)

JessicaJuly 16th, 2010 at 7:03 am

Boo-Hoo I had a job. Waaaa.

MargaretJuly 16th, 2010 at 7:19 am

Wow. You worked at a Funeral Home (“home”… did you ever wonder why they were called that?) and you had to deal with dead people.

JoJoJuly 16th, 2010 at 8:42 am

Many funeral directors (and their families) live in the same house as their business, it’s extremely common and not very creepy. The director having you come to his apartment to view business related “stuff” was inappropriate.

Also not sure why you were so uncomfortable recording the flower arrangements? Because there was a dead body in the room? I mean, you accepted a job at a FUNERAL HOME. You had to know that you might need to be in the same room as a dead body at some point during your job. It’s not like they were asking you crawl in the casket with it.

tronnerJuly 16th, 2010 at 8:46 am

Ahhh – the mythical “job description.”

rawrJuly 16th, 2010 at 9:22 am

Aside from the manager being a jerk and making you feel uncomfortable (although you don’t specify how, so I don’t know if he’s truly being a jerk or it was just part of being uncomfortable with the environment you chose to work in), not being told how to do the newsletter (unfortunate but shit like that happens everywhere you go), and the embalming room being coming off of the kitchen (Aren’t there regulations about that? Or wouldn’t common sense take over? Something? Ew!), the rest of the stuff just sounds like the basic kind of shit you’d be expected to do anywhere you worked. If you’re uncomfortable around dead people, why the hell did you choose to work in a funeral home? Especially if you already had two other jobs for income? I’m comfortable around dead people, I want to be a medical examiner, it works out. I’m not, however, comfortable around children, so there’s no way I’d ever be a elementary school teacher or a day care worker (or a parent). It’s just common sense.

P.S. Everyone has to do things that aren’t listed in their job description. Everyone. At every job. You were writing down details about flower arrangements, not handling dead bodies or even scrubbing toilets or cleaning out the fridge. It’s not that big a deal.

LaurenJuly 16th, 2010 at 11:08 am

Every job has things outside of a job description. And in every job I’ve ever had, about a year or two into the job, I’m doing mostly things not included in my original job description. I think that writing down flower arrangements falls in the exact same category as answering phones, sending newsletters and directing people to the bathroom. Like @rawr said, it’s not like they had you doing embalming or custodial work.

Funeral homes have dead bodies. If you aren’t comfortable, don’t work there. The job didn’t sound bad to me. You were providing a great service for people in a time of need.

MeshellJuly 16th, 2010 at 11:14 am

Consider yourself lucky you got to do more than what was in your “job description.” Training while getting paid sounds pretty damn nice to me.

It’s all about the opportunity.

Lizzie MeyersJuly 16th, 2010 at 12:03 pm

…Wow. Just wow. Some of you wrote more than the OP. The OP was simply sharing a bad job story, so you write a critical essay about it? Get a life and stop getting so defensive about something that doesn’t even concern you. Maybe go outside and enjoy the nice summer weather. Or, here’s a thought! Get a job.

AndrewJuly 16th, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Aside from the creepy funeral director, all of that is basic funeral home life (nyuck nyuck). My dad is a funeral director & that’s just how it is. It’s gross, it’s kind of creepy, but someone has to do it. Luckily he doesn’t own his own place so we don’t have to live in the same building.

rawrJuly 16th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

…Wow. Just wow, Lizzie Meyers. The commenters were simply sharing their opinions, so you get emotional about it? Get a life and stop getting so defensive about something that doesn’t even concern you. Maybe go outside and enjoy the nice summer weather. Or, here’s a thought! Get a job.

NayNayJuly 16th, 2010 at 11:44 pm

You see, Lizzie, when someone posts information in a public forum for the review of anyone with access, it does concern me. By nature, that information becomes my business. You know, because they posted it in a PUBLIC FORUM. Aaaanyway…

OP sounds like a stuck-up, entitled brat. Oh whah, you had a job and they wanted you to perform work in line with the services they provided. Cry me a river, build a bridge and GET OVER IT. You worked in a funeral home and you had to see dead bodies? Make notes on flower arrangements? I’m sorry, but my “give a fuck” must be broken.

You were in college, working at a law firm, and yet you couldn’t figure out how to send out a newsletter?! Are you serious? What the hell kind of school were you enrolled in? And then to cap it all off, you exhibit what can only be described as a juvenile display of integrity and work ethics, quitting over the phone with no notice, for no reason.

In short, OP, this isn’t an example of a “very worst job.” YOU are an example of a “very worst employee.

efaneoJuly 18th, 2010 at 2:27 am

This is ridiculous :/

Sounds like a perfectly ordinary job for a funeral home. Not like they were expecting you to carry caskets or embalm bodies, just write down floral arrangements and send newsletters :/

I’d love to have a job like this right now :/

BikeLizardJuly 18th, 2010 at 7:38 am

I’ll tell you why they’re begging people to post here: The commenters are a bunch of assholes. I imagine most of them are in HS, or trust funded, and that’s why no job is ever bad enough for them.

Why read a site that pisses you off?

YawnJuly 18th, 2010 at 8:16 pm

@BikeLizard maybe we just are sick of people whining about stupid things. OMG you got hired as some sort of on-call receptionist/aide and they made you do CLERICAL work like making a record of who sent flowers?
If the OP is so traumatized by being in the same room as a coffin, they shouldn’t have taken a job at a funeral home. I like the way they “quit” too… super classy.
Please repost this story if you suddenly remember a) they used the kitchen table for overflow room for embalming, b) they forced you to handle bodies or directly help with embalming in some way or c) the director actually does something to make you feel uncomfortable. Why should he have to haul a bunch of stuff down to his office just to show some measly temp when he can just have the temp run upstairs with him?
By the way, my husband and I live upstairs of a business we own and have to run downstairs for every tiny problem since the other owner lives 45 minutes away. If we could manage to do some of the work from the comfort of the apartment on our days off, believe me, we would.

Jade LynnJuly 19th, 2010 at 7:08 am

Most of the commentators here are actually posters themselves who come here to be amused by shared misery. So a lot of us have worked crap jobs, been there, done that and need a little more than “eww, I took at job at a funeral home and there were dead bodies there” to draw out the, “oh wow that sucks” reaction. This is a worst jobs blog, I expect to read about jobs where Id run out screaming, not just shrug my shoulders cause its nothing I havent dealt with before on some level or another.

BikeLizardJuly 19th, 2010 at 8:28 am

@YawnJuly: If you own it, then you’re bossing yourself around. Pity fail. How can you simultaneously own the store, live above it, and be 45 minutes away? Sounds like your job is fine, and you’re just looking for something to complain about…But if you’d misrepresent who owns the place, you’re probably making the rest up too.

Actually, I’m kidding. Apparently, you own the building, or the store, but not both. See how someone can jump down your throat, take one little typo, and make it seem like you’re being a jerk when you just mis typed?

hellcatJuly 19th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

BikeLizard, the difference is that we weren’t judging the OP based on a typo, we were judging the OP based on the entirety of the letter that they wrote themselves, about their (whiny, entitled) opinion of an experience they had and chose to post. I think that’s a fair basis for judgment – that’s why it’s called the comments section, so we can comment on the letters.

Are you by any chance the poster? Because you seem really butthurt about this whole thing, and yet I haven’t heard anything from you about why this actually WAS a terrible job and not just a really whiny OP.

tronnerJuly 19th, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I think a lot of the comments here deriding the OP are made by professionals – those that have been working for quite awhile – not the high school students and trust fund babies suggested by BikeLizard. That is based strictly upon past comments they have made indicating their profession, not something innate about the comment.

I, for one, get a little tired of seeing the “Oh, you mean when you hired me I have to WORK all DAY?” attitude. When I see that behavior mimicked on a fun web site, I get a little cranky.

BikeLizardJuly 19th, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Oh, no, I’m not the poster, I just feel bad for her. Also, maybe the editors should be a bit more choosy in making sure the stories are horrendous. She mostly seemed grossed out by the fact that it’s a funeral home, but some things are unreasonable:
1. Why should she have to write down the flower orders as a part timer? If she messed that up, feelings could be seriously hurt.
2. As someone with employees, when I don’t train them, they make lots of mistakes. No training=really bad job, unfair to customers, unfair to employees. No training alone makes her story legit.
3. Job descriptions are just that. If employees do a good job, they are generally given more responsibilities, but they should be warned before hand.

Maybe all of you are suffering at even worse jobs, trapped by the economy, so her tale of woe seems tiny. This site used to be fun, but now it’s gotten really mean.

hellcatJuly 20th, 2010 at 6:05 am

OK BikeLizard, I’ll agree that no training is a problem. But how hard is it to write down flower orders? If nothing else you write down the type of flowers, who they’re for and who they’re from. If there’s some sort of system in which to enter the information, you hold onto it until someone can teach you how to do that. Not difficult. And I don’t know, I consider job descriptions to be a guideline – every job I’ve ever had I’ve been asked to take on additional duties at some point, whether it’s because of my good performance OR just because we’re short, I work there and they need my help. I don’t get a lot of say in it, it’s just part of the job – and that’s a whole range of jobs, from blue to white collar, full to part time, entry level to management. Point is, her tale of woe seems tiny because it IS tiny, not because we’re all miserable.

JoJoJuly 20th, 2010 at 10:08 am

I think every job description I’ve ever had has included the line “additional duties as assigned.”

Yes, there are some crappy aspects about this job: unhelpful coworkers, limited training, a boss that makes you uncomfortable, but those are almost standard issue at ANY job.

ThandiJuly 20th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I agree with bikelizard, the comments could have been better handled, they come off as really mean. it’s hard taking advise when the advisor is insulting your faults rather than helping you with a solution. Obviously something wasn’t right for the OP, that’s why she/he quit and that’s why she/he posted it on a site called MY very worst job.

It was my first visit (and comment) here today, I usually frequent the date and roomate sister sites, and after this I think I’m happy to stay away. Worse than a story on employment troubles is harsh negative comments related to employment

…wow, look mom I wrote an essay! :)

YawnJuly 20th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

@bikelizard Maybe learn to read? I’m sorry I didn’t specify we are CO-owners but I clearly said the OTHER owner lives 45 minutes away.
I wasn’t trying to complain. I was trying to make the point that the OP was complaining about being brought upstairs by this director who mysteriously makes them feel “uncomfortable” when there may have been a legitimate reason. Maybe the director even has an office up there as well. Or maybe OP could have mentioned that they didn’t feel it was appropriate to do business in the director’s apartment.
“1. Why should she have to write down the flower orders as a part timer? If she messed that up, feelings could be seriously hurt.” Sorry, but look at the bouquet, write down “vase with red roses” look at the card, write down “from Smith family.” This isn’t exactly PhD level stuff and sounds right up the alley of some sort of part-time assistant.
Please don’t jump down MY throat since I clearly didn’t submit that having to come downstairs to manage a business I CO-own made it MVWJ.
The bottom line is the OP is obviously extremely uncomfortable with working even in the same building as bodies and complains about very mundane tasks like recording FREAKING FLOWERS then quits in a very rude and unprofessional way.

mystic_eyeJuly 20th, 2010 at 9:17 pm

“Every job has things outside of a job description”

Ha, nope! The one time I had a job with a job description (which they put in after I’d been there for a year or more) said that I was responsible for all the stuff that was my job and then it said “assisting in department X when needed” for every department, and “Following the directions of X manager” for each manager.

Yup, that about sums up every job on earth right there.

Jade LynnJuly 21st, 2010 at 7:19 am

The Vaaassstttt majority of stories and commentators here are actually pretty quick to sympathize with posters. I dont believe its fair for anyone to draw conclusions off this one post because I typically dont see too many people here being too critical.

As for the “its not in my job description” mentality, that WILL hold you back in your career. Think about a customer service rep you may have dealt with in the past who gave you an attitude like that and refused to help you. Its annoying and frustrating. Management wants people who are team players and take iniative and arent afraid to pitch in and take on additional responsibility if asked. Obviously it should be within reason and fall within the percieved scope of your skills and capacities, like asking the poster to help with embalming would’ve been completely unreasonable but being asked to take on a mundane administrative task seems completely reasonable.

Thandi – really? Cause I actually hang around the roommate site a lot and have my own posting on there and find that if anything people are more critical on that site as far as the commentors go, especially if animals are invovled in the story.

efaneoJuly 21st, 2010 at 7:30 am

BikeLizard: You have a nice imagination. Can you also imagine me riding to work atop a wild, fiery unicorn stallion that farts rainbows and pees glitter? That’s be awesome.

Funeral homes deal with dead people, if you don’t want to work with dead people, don’t apply for a job with a funeral home instead of applying, then complain about those creepy dead people the whole time. It’s dumb, disrespectful to the deceased and their loved ones (and guess what, you’ll be one and the other sooner or later) and takes away jobs from people who are actually willing to work for a living.

Shocking concept, I know.

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