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When roving reporters meet funeral directors

      
Todd Van Beck's picture
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When a funeral director gets chosen for one of those “man on the street” interviews, look out.

I’m writing a series on dealing with the media that is running in ICCFA Magazine, but one topic I’m not addressing is that random interview. I can think of no worse or more vulnerable position to be in than when a roving reporter or interviewer randomly selects a funeral director as the “man on the street.”

Let me give you an example, a glaring example. Years ago, I had a student at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science named Jamie Bowles. Jamie is still in funeral service in an Eastern state and has done mighty well for himself, and we have remained good friends.

One evening a few years back, I was watching “The David Letterman Show” and as he often does, Letterman sent somebody to roam the streets of New York and pick out people to “interview.”

To describe what Letterman does as an interview is truly a stretch; this particular evening the interviewer was a man who operated a deli in Manhattan. The camera starts rolling, Letterman is giving the deli man his instructions and in time several customers enter the store. One of them was none other than my friend Jamie Bowles—I damned near fell out of bed.

The deli man was quizzing everybody with the questions Letterman was telling him to ask. Letterman, back in the studio, would make comedy from the answers the customers were coming up with.

It was now Jamie’s turn and Letterman asked, “What do you do for a living?” My thrill turned immediately to concern and I watched as Jamie paused, got a little smile on his face and said, “I’m a funeral director.” Letterman went out of his mind on the air and firmly told his deli operator to “Get him (Jamie) off now!”

Mr. Bowles is always the gracious gentlemen, and he took the snub in stride, but it was a glaring example of how the subjects of funerals and funeral directors can ring bells and whistles.