I’ve previously made posts about work in the Law & Order category, but I’m hoping to blog more about work and the funeral industry in Central Ohio, so now there’s a new category.
10:35 – Grove City
The funeral director just started the service with his usual comments about turning your cell phone down to vibrate, and using headlights & flashers on the way to the cemetery. He’ll repeat the light request after the service, but I’ll still have to remind someone. That’s life as a funeral escort.
I’ve been dong this for 6 1/2 years now, and over 3,500 funerals. It amazes me how many miles I’ve put in on a motorcycle: over 250,000 at last count, I think.
This is a fairly typical day; I have 2 services. One goes from Grove City to Sunset Cemetery at 10:30; the other is a downtown run from State Street to Green Lawn. Both will be down on surface streets, with no highway time. Many directors like to run on the highway, but I’d rather be on the surface. The directors don’t like the traffic lights, but I’d rather control traffic there than have someone weaving through the procession at 70 to our 40 or 45.
We’ve got 18 cars lined up, which is pretty average. Add in the hearse and lead car, which this funeral home always uses, and we have 20. It’s an easy route. Grove City is not busy, at least where we’re going, and the rest of the route is very quiet: Broadway to Southwest; turn left. Southwest to Big Run. Turn left, then a quick right to Holt. Holt to Alkire and left, all the way down to Galloway Road. Right on Galloway to West Broad, and a left turn into the cemetery.
The only place I’ll have any concerns on this one are turning from Broadway to Southwest, and from Galloway to West Broad. Broadway & Southwest is a 5×4 intersection, with a lot of truck traffic southbound on Broadway to Southwest. But most of the truckers who come through there drive that a lot, and know to watch for and yield to processions. Galloway to West Broad is a bit more difficult; the speed limit on W Broad is 45, and if we have a red light, traffic just doesn’t want to yield to us.
It’s in the low 30s today, so I’ve got most of my heavy winter gear on. We’ve got a lot of leeway in our winter uniforms. The company provides a First Gear Kilimanjaro 2 armored jacket, which is great. Very warm and dry. It includes a liner, but in the 3 years we’ve had them, it’s only been cold enough for me to use that liner twice, and that was in the low single digits and negative singles. We also get Carhartt Extreme coveralls, which keep us pretty toasty. In warmer weather, I’ll wear my regular uniform, with long johns and a sweatshirt layered under. But once it gets down in the low 30s and lower, I need to pay more attention to wind chill. It may be 30, but when you factor in a 50-60 MPH wind chill, I’m looking at 5 – 10 degrees felt temperature.
12:55 – State Street
We started dismissing the first service at 11:16 with “You Raise Me Up.” It took about half an hour to get everyone passed by the casket and into their cars. We ended up leaving around 11:47. It took us not quite half an hour to go just under 15 miles. Pretty average run. No cut-ins that I was aware of, and with only 21 cars total, it was easy for me to monitor the whole procession.
This run will be a little more complicated. The distance will be shorter – perhaps 5 miles – but it’s downtown streets, so it’s going to be busier. State Street to Grant and turn right to Rich; Rich to 3rd and turn left. 3rd to Whittier and right, then left on High to Greenlawn Avenue, and straight into the cemetery. The downtown turns will be busy, and it’s a little harder to control traffic. The airhorn tends to echo, and so it’s harder for people to figure out exactly where I am. But on overcast days like this, the lights tend to show up better.
This service turned out be much shorter than my first; we started dismissing at 13:21, and were ready to leave at13:33. We could have left perhaps two or three minutes sooner, but the keys to the hearse went missing, keeping us from loading the body until they were found. The layout of this particular 19th-century funeral home forces them to park the hearse so that it blocks the doors to the chapel. At the end of the service, they pull the coach up 15 feet or so and load.
The intersection that makes this trip interesting is at 3d & Fulton, which has a red-light camera. The arrangement we have with Columbus Police is that if we enter the camera intersection on a green light, and it changes to red, we have to alert them to the time it happened, and the number of cars that went through. That way, when they process the photos and tape, they’ll know to not ticket the procession cars that may have been caught on tape. Other than that intersection, and some final construction work on the Greenlawn bridge, we had no real issues. It took us about 15 minutes to go just about 3.5 miles with 14 cars.
Just another day at the office.