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The Pink Death

, , , | Friendly | May 11, 2018

(It’s Mother’s day and I am visiting my grandmother’s grave. She died several years ago after a difficult battle with Alzheimer’s. I have placed a pink bouquet against her gravestone with a short message. I am also tidying up around the grave because the cemetery has an issue with people littering. I notice a woman walking by me and think nothing of it until she walks up to my grandmother’s grave.)

Me: “Did you know her?”

Woman: “No. Did you?”

Me: “Yes, she’s my grandmother. I gave her the flowers.”

Woman: “Then you should be ashamed!”

(She kicks the bouquet and starts walking away.)

Me: “What the hell was that for?”

Woman: “PINK? IN A GRAVEYARD! Are you f****** insane?!”

Me: “That’s hardly a reason to kick someone’s flowers off their grave. If you didn’t like them, you could’ve just told me, or better yet, ignored them.”

Woman: “It’s disrespectful to people who are still grieving! Nothing should be happy here. NOTHING!”

Me: “Well, I like to remember the happy times I had with her. Even when she couldn’t remember anything anymore, she still smiled whenever someone brought her something pink, and I like to think she still likes it.”

(The woman huffs and storms off, walking over several graves. I put the bouquet back and decide to warn one of the groundskeepers about her.)

Groundskeeper: “Don’t worry. We try to keep an eye out for her. She comes by every other month to bother the visitors. We’ve tried to get her banned, but her husband is buried here, and it’s hard to keep track of her with how sporadic her visits are.”

(When I visited my mum later, she told me she had also encountered the woman, and now whenever she visits, she takes a large assortment of colourful balloons, just in case the woman happens to be there, and offers her one.)

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Made A Grave Mistake

, , , , | Right | December 1, 2017

(This exchange takes place during my first year managing a particular cemetery. We have a policy, posted on the gate to the cemetery and printed on the back of cemetery maps, that people may decorate graves for holidays/special occasions, but that decorations will be removed a week after the holiday and disposed of. Although it isn’t posted policy, we also store the removed items outside the workshop for about a week before throwing them out. People who have been visiting the cemetery a long time know about the unofficial policy, so they’re not always quick to get decorations they want to keep off the graves, and may drop by to root around in the “decorations heap” to retrieve their items. We never guarantee their things will be there.)

Customer: “What happened to the Christmas decorations on my husband’s grave?”

Me: “We remove holiday decorations a week after the holiday, ma’am.”

Customer: “How is anyone supposed to know that?”

Me: “It is posted policy, ma’am. The sign at the entrance to the cemetery explains it, and we do recommend not placing items you want to keep in the cemetery.”

Customer: “I spent a lot of money on those decorations! I spent a lot of money and time, and you’re going to reimburse me for them!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry you’re upset, but it is cemetery policy to remove the holiday decorations a week after the holiday. We’re not going to reimburse you.”

Customer: “Oh, yes you are! I spent over $200 on my decorations, and they were removed, and I want them back! Where are they?”

Me: “Items left in the cemetery are disposed of, ma’am.”

Customer: “You threw them AWAY?! Where are they? You used to put decorations somewhere out back so people could get them!”

(As that was never posted policy, she wouldn’t know about it unless she’d been decorating the grave, and having her items removed, for years, so our “items are disposed of” policy could not have been a surprise to her.)

Me: “We did store them, ma’am. We kept all removed decorations out back for two weeks before disposing of them. We also didn’t take the decorations down for two weeks this year, instead of the single week that is our posted policy, so there were actually four full weeks you could have come retrieved your items before they were thrown away.”

Customer: “But it’s still the holidays! Other people still have holiday decorations up!”

Me: “We don’t prevent people from redecorating graves, ma’am, but those decorations will also be removed. And as our posted policy says, we remove holiday decorations a week after the holiday.”

Customer: “Just where is this policy posted?”

Me: *getting very tired of repeating myself* “At the gate to the cemetery, ma’am.”

Customer: “Well, I celebrate the holidays through the end of January, so it is still the holidays, and you took my things down, and you will reimburse me!”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that, ma’am, but it’s several weeks past Christmas and we will not be reimbursing you.”

Customer: “Well, you’re going to be sorry! I’m going to write a letter of complaint! You have serious problems here. I’ve had things removed, and things have been stolen before, and you have no security here—”

Me: *fed up* “Yes, ma’am, because this is a cemetery, not a bank.”

(Naturally, the customer was furious with me and stormed out. I mentioned the exchange to one of the cemetery owners, who was my boss, just in case the customer called or wrote the owners to complain about me. The owner just rolled her eyes and said she knew exactly who I was talking about, and that she complains like that every year!)

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They Have A Grave Request

, | Right | July 4, 2017

(In Swedish schools it’s common for students to intern and try out jobs every now and then. One year I was interning at a graveyard and raking some leaves when a lady in her 30s-40s walks towards me.)

Lady: “Hello, I did some family research and it turns out my great grandfather [Name] rests here. Could you show me his grave?”

Me: “Sorry, miss. I’m just an intern and don’t really know all the grave locations, but my supervisor might.”

(I then point towards the church itself where my supervisor is working at the moment. The lady walks off towards the church and I don’t see her again until a few days later when she comes back up to me.)

Lady: “Here! I got a portrait of [My Name]; can you show me his grave now?”

(Surprised and amused, I try to play it cool with the conversation.)

Me: “I’m sorry, miss, but I still don’t know the grave locations. Didn’t you speak with my supervisor?”

(At this point the lady goes into a rage about my incompetence and how it’s my job to know all the graves. I try to explain to her that there are hundreds of graves and not even my supervisor knows all of them, but luckily my supervisor comes to the rescue.)

Supervisor: “Is there a problem, miss?”

Lady: “Yes! This incompetent little wimp can’t even do his one job right and refuses to help me!”

Supervisor: “Weren’t you here a few days ago, and what does he refuse to do?”

Lady: “Yes, a few days ago you told me you didn’t know the all the graves and see if I could find the grave number. I couldn’t but i found this portrait of [Name]. Isn’t that enough!”

(My supervisor then goes on to explain why it does not work that way and then finally the lady storms off shouting.)


(She then goes on to tip over flower pots on the close enough graves, whilst angrily walking to her car and driving away. I never saw her again.)

Supervisor: *sarcastically* “Maybe we should dig up all the graves and check their faces in case this happens again!”

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Not Always Working When Not Working

| Working | March 5, 2016

(Nearing the end of my shift, all work complete and waiting for time to tick by I surf the Internet.)

Me: “You know, there’s a certain irony in reading Not Always Working when I should be finding something to do.”


(Editor’s note: For reasons that are completely biased, we’re going to tag this story as ‘awesome.’)

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Don’t Give Her Any Ideas

| Related | November 17, 2014

(I am nine years old. I am with my family, visiting my late grandparents.)

Me: “What’s that?”

Dad: “Those are tombstones for my parents. They died when I was very young.”

Me: “Aw, I’m sorry Daddy.”

Three-Year-Old Sister: “Why? Did you kill them?!”

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