Cortege Chaos at ESMP

    This Monday I was at Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park (ESMP) taking photos of the WWI graves, all part of my look at the history of the funeral industry (all coming soon).  There I was, doing my thing when I noticed a mourner park their white SUV in a rather inappropriate spot, on a narrow road with two tight bends to it (shown below).

    These photos were posted to to Facebook on the day of the event, which you can see here.

    They had parked there to visit a grave, as they did not want to walk far, which was odd considering they could have parked even closer and out of the way had they gone straight instead of tuning left.  But then again they obviously were not familiar with ESMP or cemeteries in general.

    Normally I would simply sigh at parking like this and walk off, but this time I knew things would get rather interesting, as just down the road a large funeral was setting up.  A Greek funeral, which are known to have a large cortege and sometimes limos.  Realising all this I decided to keep an eye on things, to see how it turned out.

    Sure enough not five minutes later a funeral cortege was headed our way, with two limos and many cars behind it.  The hearse went straight, not left towards where the white SUV was, which really surprised me as that was the main road to the grave.  Perhaps the driver went straight to avoid the SUV, I had seen the staff in the hearse pointing at it as they approached.  Either way, the hearse came to a stop, just past the road they needed to go left at, realising they could not get to the grave by going straight.

    The hearse then proceeded to reverse, very cautiously as there was two limos and many cars behind it.  The two limos started to back up to let the hearse back, but the car behind the second limo would not move.  It was a big SUV, and had quite a bit of room behind it, but it would not budge, forcing the second limo to have to reverse next to it slowly on a tight road.

    This in turn forced the first limo to go left at the road, in front of the hearse so the hearse could get enough room to reverse.  By now there were several oncoming cars, which would normally just pass the cortege, but due to the white SUV they were stuck.  About four cars had to revers around the sharp corner on the tight road to let the first limo in.

    It only took about five minutes of fidgeting, but the first limo was finally able to get up the road, as shown above.

    The first limo was soon followed by the hearse, (shown above), and then by the second limo, (shown below).  The driver of the white SUV was now looking on, just out of picture, the driver looked so confused and embarrassed.

    After the three cars got past total chaos set in, there were now a good six cars trying to go down the road, and several cortege cars trying to go up the road.  And nobody could pass each other due to the white SUV, which was no itself trying to get out but stuck in the commotion.

    All in all it took a good 10 minutes for everyone to get through, most cars had to reverse back, let people past, then squeeze past others themselves.  Two ESMP trucks even got caught in the traffic, one driver got out and went over to sort some stuff out before coming back as the traffic cleared.

    It was such a perfect example of what I have said to others, that too many do not understand the cemetery properly.  In placing so much emphasis on the spiritual or emotional aspects we overlook the physical and practical dimensions.  The driver of the white SUV was not inconsiderate, they were not bad or stupid people, they simply do not see the physical side to the cemetery.  They did not look at the road where they were parked, they did not look at the funeral setting up nearby, they only saw the emotional importance of visiting the grave.  This is something many do, and while irritating and a hinderance it is not unreasonable or unforgivable.

    So do not look upon this driver or situation negatively, rather use it to think about how you use and see the cemetery (or other places for that matter).

    It should be noted that I think the funeral staff did damn well to get a hearse and two limos through in so little time with what was going on.  All staff remained calm and composed at all times, even the ESMP truck drivers waited patiently as cars moved around and showed no real frustration.


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