Being a hearse driver is probably simple enough: your clients never complain, nor are they typically in a great hurry. Really, you're more of a delivery service than a cabbie … unless, of course, you're supposed to be taking someone to their own funeral.
Maybe, over the course of that presumably brief journey, you have to relieve yourself. Or maybe you realize that you haven't really eaten breakfast and are suddenly craving a sausage and egg sandwich. Or a double cheeseburger with a side of onion rings. Hmm—that is sounding absolutely mouthwatering right now. Delicious, in fact. Surely this corpse in the back of your vehicle won't mind if you make a pit stop and stuff your face with fast food while their grieving family waits on the lawn of the cemetery a few miles down the road.
In Virginia Beach, VA, that was the choice that a hearse driver clearly felt obliged to make this past weekend. Concerned local David Disch was headed to the drive-thru of his local Hardee's this past Saturday when he noticed the telltale vehicle—long, black, with a flag-draped coffin inside—chilling in the parking lot as its two drivers went inside to address their snack attack. Apparently, the fellow they left in waiting was 80-year-old veteran Bobby Hill, a former Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force, who was due for a 1 PM service that day at Rosewood Memorial Park.
"After I got my food I went around behind it to confirm what I had seen, a flag-draped coffin inside … You couldn't miss it," Disch told local news channel WKTR. Disch was particularly upset that the abandoned coffin in question contained a former member of the armed forces, and took to social media with snapshots of the Disrespectmobile. Unacceptable, you guys!
"I know we're all human, we have to eat, but protocols need to be changed," Disch argued.
Bill Carter—the Ceremony and Planning Team Manager of Bliley's Funeral Home, to whom the vehicle belonged—was less flummoxed. Although he admits that there is a company policy not to leave an "occupied" vehicle unattended in public except in case of emergencies, he told the media that "one associate was watching the locked and secured hearse while they were briefly inside a restaurant."
It could be worse, after all. They opted for fast food, rather than ditching Bobby to savor an hours-long, six-course tasting menu. Just a pit stop! Everyone relax!
Comments on the news story show ambivalence among the public.
"The dead guy really doesn't have to be anywhere," writes "Petey." "Ya know, we give more respect to our dead than we do our living. It's really sad when you think about it."
Fellow commenter "Wilson" strongly disagrees: "The sandwich can wait, these two schmucks just need to do their job. If that was my family member Veteran or not [sic] I would be pissed off."
Facebook user Robby Starfish takes a more practical approach, arguing, "Would it have mattered? It's a dead body. They where about to bury it in the ground, where it will get wet, fester and decay. I think it could sit in a car for a bit."
Carter also says that the Hill family "was very pleased" with the service that they received from the funeral home. Maybe they get it: pangs of hunger sometimes strikes at inopportune times. And when you're a hearse driver, minding after a coffin is all in a day's work, anyhow.