Funeral Fun - Broken down in the cemetery

    A breakdown is never a fun thing.  Especially in the funeral industry.  Even more so in a cemetery during a funeral!  But this is exactly what happened one hot summer day.

    This is the story of how our hearse broke down in a cemetery, during a funeral, and how a gravedigger came to our rescue.

    There were three of us on the job, the conductor, hearse driver and me as the pleb.  It was actually a really good crew to work with.  This particular hearse driver and conductor had a rather amusing rapport with each other.  They offset and complemented each other well, so I was looking forward to it.  The church service went well, the family were small and nice.  After the church service we made our way to 'Field of Mars Cemetery' for the burial.

    Upon arriving at the cemetery we realised that it was a long walk from the hearse to the grave.  Which is a common pain with this cemetery.  However this time it was a longer walk than usual and a fairly heavy coffin.  Plus it was a very hot day and we were all in three piece heavy suits.  I felt my enthusiasm drain away as I looked over the distance we would have to carry.  But that was the job, there was no choice.  And thankfully the gravediggers were happy to help us.

    After we carried the coffin over we were all a bit tired and hot to say the least.  At least the service was quick and he family kind.  So it was over soon and before I knew it we were walking back to the hearse.  That is when one of us (I forget who exactly) saw it.

    The back passenger side tire was flat, completely flat.  Barely a breath remained.  The conductor did not want to alarm the family, and seeing as they had parked the hearse in we decided to let them go first.  I remember how the three of us stood there, sheepishly and solemnly waving them off.

    Once they were gone we had the fun job of changing the tire.  But to add to this we knew the big boss was due in with a funeral very soon.  She would not like to see us there with a broken hearse.  And we did not want to be seen by her with a broken hearse.  So we wanted to change the tire quickly.

    Due to the design of the hearse the spare tire was underneath the back.  Being the young one I had to reach under the car while the conductor lowered the spare with a wheel.  This meant basically lying down on the hot road.  When the tire was low enough I grabbed it, only to find it covered in grease and dirt.  But that is life, we do what we must and sometimes what we must do is not clean.  And I did not mind too much.

    We struggled slightly with the spare, well, I struggled slightly.  But I soon had it free!  Now the fun part, the part I was looking forward to.  We raised the hearse with the jack and began to losent the nuts on the flat tire.  Here is where we discovered something quite bad.  The tools did not fit the nuts on the wheel.  They were too big and just slipped around the nuts, which meant we had no way of getting the flat wheel off or the spare one on.

    There was a bit of debate and confusion over this.  We knew the tire (this very tire in fact) had been changed by someone else in our garage only a day ago.  How had they changed the tire if the tools did not fit?!

    Either way here we were, in a cemetery, with a hearse which had a flat, no tools to change it and the boss due in any second.  Not good.

    This is when the conductor had a brilliant idea.  He went off to ask the grave diggers for help, they might have tools which fit.  The hearse driver and I stood sweating away in the shade while the conductor hunted for help.

    Not long after he came back with a gravedigger.  The digger was carrying a bunch of different sized tools.  We tried a couple and sure enough one fit!  Not only did the tool fit but the digger insisted on changing the tire for us.  He obviously felt sorry for the three of us in our suits on such a hot day.  Plus we sort of knew him, we had worked with him here and there over the year and so far we had all gotten along.

    The digger got the old tire off and the new one on in only a moment.  We thanked him, he had not just helped us a little but had insisted on doing almost everything for us.  And for no reward, for nothing.  Even tho we thanked me he so casually said "it was no trouble" before smiling and making his way back to the truck.  I will never forget how happy and willing he was to help, and what a good job he did.

    On the way out of the cemetery the conductor rang up the gravedigger company to tell the boss what a wonderful thing the digger had done.  How pleased and grateful we were with the digger.  I just want to say I have run across this digger a few times, and every time he is a pleasure.  A nice and helpful guy who does a good job.  One might at first be put off by his tattoos and gait, but he is a good guy and does a good job.

    Anyway, we finally had a new tire and made our way out of the cemetery.  Our first stop was to a tire place to find the problem.  They looked at the flat tire and immediately saw what had happened.  The tire had a puncture repaired a few days ago, but whoever repaired it had put the plug in the wrong way around.  So they put the plug in the right way this time and sent us on our way.

    We returned to the garage and asked the person who had changed the tire how he did it.  He said the tools in the hearse did not fit so he had used some from another car.  We were not impressed, that he knew the tools in the hearse did not fit yet had told nobody.  If only he had told us we could have avoided so much trouble!

    Being an undertaker is a rather interesting job.  It is more this sort of thing than death or sadness.


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