2016 was a rough year. The stress of finishing school and the pressure of getting a job towards the end of the semester made the last month or so of 2016 extra stressful. Now that the holidays have passed and we’re into the new year, I wanna reflect just a little. I normally look like the meme I used for this post, but I actually mean it this time! Here’s why:
I passed both sections of the National Board Exams just before Christmas, and therefore, officially met graduation requirements. I continued working hard at my job, but felt like it wasn’t getting me what I thought it would, or taking me where I feel I deserve. I’m a glorified maid, until there’s a service that I can assist on, and then I enjoy my day. Otherwise, I’m filling copy machines and making coffee like a damn intern, so I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground for something else.
I was tempted into applying for the place I’m currently at with the possibility for starting my apprenticeship. Once I got in there and started working, I discovered that there’s not really a need for another embalmer, and it was “up to me” to make friends with the one guy, to even try and get a shot at an apprenticeship. Once I realized how the game works at this place, I realized that an apprenticeship was not gonna happen. Nor did I really want it after seeing the quality of work our establishment produced.
There’s also another coworker of mine who’s been there for 2 years, graduated a year before me, and wants to be an embalmer, so I’d be competing for a spot against her. There’s another coworker that’s in school right now, but has been there over a year, so they’ll both have seniority over me if I were to try and move up in any kind of way.
I told myself that this wasn’t going to be my job for much longer, and I made it happen. A friend of mine worked at another home right around the same time I got the job at my place. Our stories of going to work could not have been more different. She LOVES her work and coworkers. She gets paid a livable wage. She has benefits and enjoys what she does each and every day. In December, she didn’t have a date to her company’s Christmas party, so I tagged along with her and met everyone at her work. They were a small bunch, but you could tell how much they got along. They were a little family, and I could not have been more envious! I walked out of that dinner thinking, “I want this!”, and it just so happened that my friend was moving out of the area and her position was going to be opening up. Without telling me at first, she talked to her boss and coworkers about me and put a good word in for me to take over her position (whata sweetheart, right?!).
So cut to this last Saturday. I wake up to a phone call from the boss, asking if I could come in for an interview on Monday! I had an opening shift at my job that day, so I had to hurry over right after I clocked out. I got to the new place and reintroduced myself to the office ladies and the other funeral director. He proceeded to take me to the boss’ office and had me hang out while he went to find him. In the maybe 5 minutes that I sat and waited, and I could just feel the difference between the two funeral homes. I gave myself a little pep talk just before he came in the room, telling myself, “You’ve got this, you’re awesome. Make it happen!”
After he came in, we just chatted for a little bit. We talked about the establishment, the pay, the days I would possibly work, the possibility of acquiring another funeral home in the future and expansion before taking me on a tour of the place. On the tour, we ran across 2 bodies that were sitting ready for their prospective funerals/visitations the next day, and he took me up to them to look at his handy work. I could tell just from these two cases, that this establishment was far beyond where I was currently working. The decedent looked great! There was good color in their hands and face, the makeup wasn’t caked on like a layer of paint, the mouth (OH THE MOUTH!) looked natural! Our cases, each and every one that comes through the door, gets super glued shut. I always feel it makes their expression funky and sad.
We went to view the decedent in their chapel, and after he told me that this one had scraped his head in a fall and lost tissue on his hand, I took a look at the case and couldn’t tell one way or another that there had been reconstruction work in anyway! It was amazing, and I made sure to praise his work (without brown-nosing of course!). We made our way back to the arrangement room we started in, and I was told to fill out the application (formality). When I was done, he had me go to the office to hang out and chat with the other 3 potential coworkers. They were finishing their day up and didn’t have very many questions for me. The other funeral director did ask me about when I graduated, if I had my licenses, if I passed my NBEs, if we had any mutual acquaintances from the program, etc. Once we were kind of talked out, the boss hurriedly entered the room, exclaiming,”YOU WENT TO PACIFICA!?” (my high school). I told him my graduating year and he says,”OH! Then you would know my daughter!”
As it turns out, my potential employer’s daughter and husband are former classmates of mine. We also share a mutual acquaintance because of his daughter and my friends growing up who played soccer! A woman who I call my “other mother” (and who I used as a reference on my application), is someone who this guy knew for YEARS! “Small world” is an understatement!
So I’m flying when I leave this interview. We had great conversations, everything they offer sounds AMAZING ($4 MORE than what I’m currently making, full time, the apprenticeship, medical and dental benefits, 401K, etc etc), their establishment feels cleaner and newer, their cases look awesome, and I go home and start telling my family about how BADLY I want this! One of the last things one of the ladies said to me before she left was, “so when do you start?” And I stuttered back with,”uhh, he hasn’t given me a date yet?” To which she follows with, “Well, I guess we’ll see ya when we see ya!” My boyfriend is sitting here telling me that I have to get it if they think I already have it, but I’m not counting chickens before they hatch.
Cut to Tuesday night. I just got done vacuuming and finishing my duties at my current job. I can’t quite leave yet because the retort in the crematory is still reading too hot, so I need to kill some time and let it cool before I lock up. I go back to the office and grab my phone. There’s a missed call and a voicemail from the new place saying that he wants me to call back and that he’s there till 10pm. My head starts buzzing! Do I call now and get it out of the way or do I wait for the crematory, drive home, and call back once I’m there? Of course I do the former, since I’m at work all by myself and I’ll stress myself out more if I don’t call back immediately!
When he answers the phone he asks me if I was running because I seem out of breath. I told him that that was because I had just finished vacuuming (and because I was stressing myself out, but didn’t tell him that), and his reply was, “oh, so they’re showing you the business end of a vacuum again?” (HA!)
We chat for a few minutes. He reiterates the pay, sick time, vacation time, the fact that I will be set in the schedule we talked about for 2 years and if i was OK with that (I was). He then told me,”well I talked to [your ‘other mother’] and she had nothing but good things to say about you…I also talked to your boss there” I clammed up because I haven’t mentioned in ANYWAY about looking elsewhere. He continues,”We had a nice talk, and he said he’d be sad to see you leave, because you are, you’re hired!” After a bunch of thank you’s and “oh my gosh, I’m so excited”, we decided that I would be putting in my two weeks notice and starting at the end of the month!
I still can’t believe that my year has started off so well! I keep feeling like something’s gonna happen to fuck it all up, but for now, I’m staying positive and excited! My dude and I are finally gonna be making money in “adult jobs”. Not only that, but our dream of moving is closer than ever! We’re going to make it happen in 2017, I can feel it!
I hung out with the coworker/friend that got me the job at my current place and broke the news that I was leaving. She was bummed that I’m leaving, but more bummed that she’s still stuck there. I thought she was going to be a little mad that I was going so quickly (I’ve barely been there 4 months), but she’s happy for me and told me to keep my ear out for anything for her to try and apply for.
Now, I have to say, I don’t want to talk shit about any home. This is a very small industry, and I wouldn’t want to say something that could get me in trouble, or insult a family, or anything that would just be a dick move. They let me dip my toes into the industry, and made me see what I don’t want to be, but that doesn’t mean the ones who have been there for a long time are doing it wrong, it’s just not what I want for myself. I wanted to find a place that was more like minded to me, and this place and I couldn’t have been more different. The new home is awesome and I can see it meshing with my ideas much more, so I’m really excited to start working there.
Also, every place has coworkers that you just don’t get along with, but my biggest gripe or reason to not want to be at my current place is this: I just don’t fit in with those guys. I feel strongly that there’s a place for everyone, and I was a square peg in a round hole at that place. They were a group that I was just not going to be able to mesh with. They’re nice people, they love what they’re doing, but I’m not going to make them like me or change their mind. They weren’t going to treat me any different than I was already being treated. I was seen as a secretary or each of their own personal assistants. But not only that, I was shit on and given the stupid shit they just didn’t want to do. They all treated night attendants (my position there) as “less than” a funeral director, even though I was licensed and 3 of them weren’t.
There was no procedure or training. They would just say,”don’t do that”, after I was already doing something a certain way (that I was told to do!) for a month. There was no consistency, and I am not an idiot so don’t treat me like one. The last couple of weeks, I’ve started assisting and taking over services for some of the directors and getting little to no recognition from my coworkers. But they’re the first to try and point out something I did wrong (even when it wasn’t!). I just really needed out of that environment, and I’m so happy it happened so quickly.
I didn’t really mean for this post to become so long, but I didn’t update in a long time, and I really wanted to document my excitement! I can’t wait to start my apprenticeship, and I’m one step closer to becoming a licensed embalmer!
“New year, new me” is very fitting this year! I can’t wait to see what happens for me this year!