Chaz Meyers (cpm) wrote,
Chaz Meyers

Death, the Right Thing, and Money.

It seems as though Julie Butler, the elderly lady who occupied the 1st floor apartment of our house, passed away sometime in the past two weeks.

Her neice and great-neice were concerned for her well being after she did not answer the phone all day. Her family had keys to her apartment, but their key to the front door was about 5 years old. The front lock must have changed since that time. They rung the door bells, and I suppose I was the only one in the building who was home. Of course, I let them in the building. Sure enough, Miss Butler was no longer with us.

"Was no longer with us." That is such an unusual phrase. She wasn't with us beforehand. In the intended sense of the phrase, Julie hasn't been with us for about 2 weeks. In the more general sense of the phrase, I have not seen that lady since last summer. She has been in the building, I know, since her car never leaves the driveway. She did leave, though. About a month ago, she stayed with her neice for half of a month. Of course, I didn't know that until her neice told me. We had a lot of time to talk.

Death in Philadelphia involves a lot of waiting. First, you wait for the paramedics to arrive. I suppose there were a lot of injured or dead people tonight, since we live less than half a mile from Einstein, yet it took 30-45 minutes for them to arrive. I suppose, in some respects, it was fortunate that Julie was already not with us. After the paramedics arrive, you have to wait for the police to show up. The police are important because they have to call people and fill out paperwork. You can't die properly without the correct paperwork.

That is not to say that you need to just sit around and wait for the police to show up. It is a good idea to try to get in touch with the deceased party's doctor. The doctor knew for certain how the deceased party looked like when they were alive, so he or she is the best person to tell of the deceased party is actually dead or if they are just faking it.

A deceased party is not nearly as fun of a time as it sounds. There is no party involved. There isn't even any deceasing going around. Most of the deceasing has already been done by the deceased party.

The doctor has a very important piece of paper to sign: the Death Certificate. If they are available, you get to take the body home with you. How lovely is that? Most people don't want a dead body in their livingroom, though, so they will have a funeral parlor take the body and put makeup on it and put it in a dress. Julie Butler did not own a dress when she was with us yet not with us.

Even though the family doesn't keep the dead body in their livingroom, they do not want the alternative. The medics warn that if you can't get the body signed off by the primary physician, the police will send it to their doctors, and they might perform an autopsy. Friends don't let friends get their bodies cut open after they're done using them.

After the police took Julie Butler's body in something resembling an elongated blue trashbag, the ritual of paperwork and waiting and phonecalling was finished. Aside: A person does not look much like a person when they're in an oversized blue Hefty bag.

All of this did not bother me much. What bothered me was that the great-neice wanted to give me $20 for waiting around with them and doing what any common decent human being ought to do. Has our society moved to a point where it is so capital based and the only incentives are forms of immediate gratification that it is deemed appropriate to pay someone if they bother to hang around until all the people with walkie talkies have left? That seems to be just the right thing to do and should not have a price tag associated with it. Should we start paying nickel and dimes in exchange for opening doors for people or remembering our please's and thank you's? Should we charge our grand parents when we take them to the doctors or mow their lawns?

Don't get me wrong. I do not fault them for their intentions. They were being nice. It's not their fault. Society made them this way. Regardless, even if accepting their money would have given them some ease of mind, it would have made me a prostitute.

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