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Crazy Cemetery Stories: Nuts and Bones

Updated on March 24, 2013
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Disclaimer

These anecdotes are based on my six years working in the office of a large cemetery. They deal with subject matter that some might find disturbing and actions that some might find distasteful. If you are one of these folks, I suggest you stop reading now. Otherwise, enjoy!

As always, dear reader, I want to you to keep in mind as you read that nothing was ever done out of disrespect. The individuals involved were the most dedicated bunch of guys and gals that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Considering we had the jobs of scheduling, preparing, and witnessing hundreds of burials a year, can you blame us for blowing off a little steam now and then?

~~~~~~

If you have been reading my Crazy Cemetery series you are plenty aware that there were some crazy and downright hilarious occurrences at the cemetery where I worked.

Well, it wasn’t just the decedents, or the neighbors, or the weather, that was nutty. Some of the staff members were a little left of center as well, self-included.

This is a sampling of some of the little pranks that you can only do at a cemetery!


I am a JOY to have around he office!
I am a JOY to have around he office! | Source

OH, NUTS!

When I was just the secretary, there was a woman working at the cemetery in an bookkeeping/office manager role. She was my supervisor. Thinking about that now, maybe I shouldn't have done what I am about to tell you. No. I should have. She practically asked for it. She was a jokester herself.

This woman also was terrified of dead bodies and anything related to them. Yes. I thought the same thing. What on earth was she doing working at a cemetery?!

She wouldn't go in the mausoleums. Just the thought of it made her shudder. She was absolutely positively creeped out by urns and ashes. She would cringe at the site of me holding an urn, sealed tight, anywhere near the door to her office. So forget about her touching an urn, or even anything that touched one.

Well, when loved ones arrived in an urn that was fragile, the box usually included some sort of packing material – bubble wrap, newspaper, foam peanuts etc. You might think that popping yards of bubble wrap is fun, but the most fun I had was with those darn peanuts.

What could possibly bring more joy than popping sheet upon sheet of bubble wrap? Why, that would be torturing this woman, my supervisor, with packing peanuts. I will explain.

One day I unpacked an urn and put it aside to wait until the family came in for the burial service. We often had one or two “friends” like that hanging around. The box was in my supervisor’s way, so she asked me to move it. She wouldn't touch it! Now, there was absolutely no way any tiny minute bit of ash was anywhere on this box or the packing material. Even so, my supervisor would not touch it. Not the box. Not the Styrofoam peanuts inside. And that is all I needed.

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Source

We were sort of a loony crew at that time. A dysfunctional family, if you will. Jokes and insults flew just as fast and hard as orders. So it was not completely off limits to have a little fun with this lady. And I did.

I took one of those peanuts and I put it on her filing cabinet. The one across from her desk. The one she looked at when she sat in her chair. And I left it there knowing that she would see it. Knowing that she would not be able to touch it no matter how much she was freaking out about it being there.

What did she do? Oh she screeched. And she yelled. And she yelled some more. I did eventually go in there and pick it up. Then, as she directed, I wiped down her cabinet.

Was she mad? At first I am sure she was. Did I get in trouble? Of course not. So I proceeded to taunt her by showing her packing peanuts every time they came in. Yes. I am relentless.

And then I really did it! I told the superintendent about my supervisor’s hang-up with the peanuts. Game on! This guy always seemed to take what I was thinking and go right off the edge with it. Sometimes with my encouragement.

The next time an urn came in accompanied by peanuts; I causally mentioned it to the super. Before those peanuts made it to the trash, several handfuls made their way into his desk drawer. For later use, I assumed. I assumed correctly.

The next morning, as soon as my supervisor entered her office I heard “Dana!” I went in her office knowing that, whatever it was, I didn’t do it. What was it that I didn’t do? Oh it was brilliant. Lined up along her keyboard, top and bottom, were foam peanuts. And there was one single one in her chair. Just for good measure, I suppose. She was not happy. Very nearly freaking out.

I immediately ratted out the super. I was not about to take the fall for that one! No way! This went way beyond a single peanut on the cabinet!

The super came up to her office, got a good tongue lashing, and the offending packing materials were removed. The office was then thoroughly sanitized. All of this by the super of course. And he did it with a smile knowing full well there were plenty more where those came from.



The Nugget!

The best part of my desk’s location was that it was in front of a large picture window. I could see a beautiful view of the grounds and everyone entering and exiting the building. I sat at my desk one afternoon writing little old ladies, the term I fondly used for replying to customer correspondence, when I saw the superintendent walk up the entrance ramp. I ignored him, thinking he was going to his desk. He wasn’t.

I didn’t have to turn around to know he was standing behind me. I have sort of a sixth sense for that kind of thing. It was nearly impossible for him to sneak up on me. I just kept writing. There was nothing I needed to give him or tell him, and if he wanted something he would ask.

The next thing I saw was his closed hand move around until it was just in front of my chest. OK. So that was unexpected. He opened his hand slowly and resting in the center of his palm is what I ultimately referred to as “the nugget.” I had to come up with a code name to prevent anyone from hearing me refer to the item by what it actually was.

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The super was holding in front of me a single vertebra, a backbone, from a large mammal. I knew this from my days studying wildlife biology. It was partly blackened and in early stages of decay, but still intact. I turned around, looked up at him, and asked, “Is that what I think it is?” He smiled and answered, “Yup!”

Yup. It was a human bone. I made him tell me ten times over that he was not joking. That is wasn’t from a deer. And then I made him tell me where he got it.

It came from the grave next to the one he was digging. That day had been preceded by several days with a good amount of rain. Most of the water had run through the ground and it was not particularly soggy. There was nothing unusual as the guys dug. No red flags.

The unmarked grave next to this new one was very old. Apparently the casket was placed directly in the ground with no concrete burial vault (perfectly allowable back then). It also was placed slightly too close to this new grave, not unusual.

What was unexpected was that this old casket also was full of water from the recent rain. When the new grave was dug, there suddenly was no longer enough dirt to hold back the force of the water inside the casket. Part of the casket broke open and water poured into the new grave, along with some of the gentleman’s bones. According to the super, his back bones bobbed up just like apples!

What do you do when the neighbor’s bones spill into your new grave? You pick them up. And I guess step two at my cemetery is to show the quirky office manager, just like a little kid shows his mom the frog he caught. Step three is to freak out another female office staff member by offering it to her with the advice to “grow a spine.” She was not happy. I am still laughing!

Before you think we were conducting ourselves like disrespectful morons (too late?), the real reason the super was walking around with a pocket full of bones was not for office games. That is just what he did to pass time until that day’s funeral came and went. He was holding them in safe keeping. To be honest, his pocket was probably the safest place on the grounds.

After the burial service left and the family was gone, the super placed the old bones back in the grave they had escaped from. I can assure you that all the gentleman’s bones are exactly where they should be, though now a little out of sorts. Unless, of course, you can actually grow a spine. Maybe I should go back there and see if anything sprouted!



Source

SURPRISE!

If you think it's odd to have a few bones hanging around the office, what do you suppose you do with a spare casket? That certainly is not fitting in the superintendent’s pocket.

For reasons I will explain in another story, a casket was damaged during a burial. The deceased was removed, placed in a new casket, and buried. (Yes. The family was aware and approved.) For a short time, we had the casket in our garage until it could be disposed of. Before disposing of the casket, we were to take photos for insurance purposes.

The task of taking the photos was put on one of the memorial advisors. She was a little on the skittish side, but was a good sport about taking the camera down to the garage. Maybe to show us all that she really did have a spine!

I called down to the super and let him know she was on her way. She went to the garage, turned on the camera, and just as she stepped up to take the first photo – Boo! One of the grounds guys popped out of the casket! He nearly scared the poor woman to death.

It turns out, as soon as they found out who was headed down to the garage, they orchestrated the prank. One of the guys jumped in the casket and just as she walked up, the super tapped on the casket to signal him to pop out.

From what they tell me, she jumped so high and so far that it looked like she was trying to climb the wall. I am still counting my lucky stars that it wasn’t me!


And that folks, is a sampling of what you do at a cemetery to kill the time. Mostly on days when it is dead quiet, which doesn’t happen often. People are dying to get in you know!


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    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      LOL. A little one on one! You're quite the jokester, Dana, and this lady must've indeed pulled a few to deserve some herself!! Bring on more from the cemetery!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      midget38- Hi Michelle. Let me tell you, that woman was deadly with a rubberband! We had a lot of fun. Then she sort of flaked out and quit. Hmmm. No. It was not on account of the pranks. Was it? :)

      Thrilled you liked this. I was a bit nervous about admiting that we had some old bones hanging around the office. But in the end, we were all professionals.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I really like the way you think. Oh the fun and torturing of others we could do together!! Your stories rock Dana. I see an ebook of Cemetery stories do very well! :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Sunshine625 - I bet you and I would make quite the pair! You should have been there the day the super got me on the forehead with the "cancelled" stamp! He was so proud of himself. Of course it was in retalliation after the "sharpie incident".I could go on for days!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Glad you like this series. Now just to get time for that book! :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Make time for the ebook! :)

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      Your story kept me glued to every written word. You definitely have a "spine"! I am pretty fascinated really! What a cool job! It is cool there is a little sense of humor going on there. You have a way of words,,,really neat :) It was a pleasure reading this!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Linda - yes ma'am!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      AudraLeigh - Thank you for the great comment. I love writing this series, especially when I know that people enjoy reading it. It was a cool job at times, and we had a blast. At times I thought I was working in a high schol! Of course, I have just as many stories that are sad as can be, but I will save those for a while. Why spread sad when I can spread funny.....Thank you for sharing this! See you around.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      'QUIRKY'?? lol - you ain't quirky my friend - you're plain 'pea'NUTS!

      And...i love it!!

      Listen, me thinks that anyone who can work in a mortuarium, cemetarium - whatever-ium - has to be a little twisted to begin with - as your supervisor (and the rest of the crew) clearly prove! lol..

      Your pranks must keep your 'tenants' rolling in their graves - yes?

      LOL..

      ps. if ONLY it were possible to grow a spine...haha..

      (still smiling, Dana...thanks!)

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Dana,

      I think you and your coworkers sound so healthy with these funny stories in such a sad environment. Nurses are capable of their own "innocent humor" so I totally understand.

      Your supervisor sounded like she was cool despite her phobias. We know you are the coolest!

      Voted UP and FAB. Hugs, Maria

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and funny. lol Cemetery humor. Amusing I didn't even know there was something like this. Enjoyed and passing on.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Made me laugh a lot - i imagine it's a difficult job anyway so a good sense of humour is important. Look forward to more...

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      travmaj - It was an incerdibly difficult job at times, so when we could enjoy ourselves we took advantage of it. I think the fun times brought us closer together, and made the tough times bearable.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Gypsy Rose Lee - That job was nothing like I expected or could have imagined. I am glad to have the opportunity to share some of the crazy moments. Thanks for the votes!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      marcoujor - You are right when you liken the situation to that of nurses. Doctors too. A sense of humor helps you get through it. I must agree, I am pretty darn cool. Thanks for noticing. :)

      Thanks a million for the great comment and the votes.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      ImKarn23 - Yup. I am nuttier than a snickers bar and more twisted than a twizler (and apparently in need of a sugar fix). Thanks for noticing. It's nice to be appreciated. I am so thrilled you liked this. Cool people like you give me hope that the world is not the uptight uncool place some people try to make it... Keep smilig. LOVE THAT SMILE of yours!

    • CMCastro profile image

      Christina M. Castro 4 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      Life and death are all a part of life. and how you deal with it is how well the situation turns out. I have a clear idea how I don't want to be when I get old, based on my nursing home Charge nurse experiences, and I certainly want to stay as healthy as can be to stay out of hospitals. But eventually, everyone will end up in a cemetery. So let's take it not so seriously, so we can enjoy life as well as we can before we get there! Good job on this hub.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      CMCastro - Oh goodness, you must have seen quite a lot working at a nursing home. I am ok with growin gold as long as I am happy and relatively healthy. Guess I should start taking better care of myself!... Yes. Death is inevitable. And things do happen. You are right about not taking it too seriously, otherwise you might just end up a big ball of stress.... I am happy you enjoyed this hub. I plan on continuing the series for a while. I still have a few good stories to tell! :)

    • LEWMaxwell profile image

      Leslie Schock 4 years ago from Tulsa, Oklahoma

      I couldn't stop laughing at the pranks you guys pulled. It doesn't matter the job, so long as you show respect and everyone knows who can take a joke and who can't, then the laughter is limitless. And in the cemetary business, you have to have a sense of humor or else I think one would tend to go a bit loopy because of it. Good job.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      LEWMaxwell - we did have some really fun times. i still remember the rubber band fights! you are right about needing to have sense of humor. if you didn't the stress and the sad times would take over. no one can deal with all that and not go nuts..... Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. glad you found it as funny as we did.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 4 years ago from Singapore

      This is a beautiful post and something out of the ordinary. Voted up

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Love this! If I worked at a cemetery, I would do the same things! It would be a job that you would have to laugh about to be able to do. Please share more!

    • HLPhoenix profile image

      HLPhoenix 4 years ago

      This was really great... I love the peanut on the file cabinet... subtle humor... had me laughing out loud. Now the Super, he was a little overboard, but he took his punishment like a man...

      Must admit, as an avid book reader and political junkie... prior to joining Hub Pages... I'd never been exposed to so many varied, interesting, sad and hilarious topics. Cemetery Humor... who knew. Loved this.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Dana,

      Your cemetery series is terrific! Please keep sharing your anecdotes with us.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Daisy Mariposa - Thank you. I really enjoy sharing these. I will have to go back to my notes to see what I will include in the next one.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      MG Singh - It certainly was an interesting experience... thank you for the vote!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      justateacher - I am so glad there are others that share my attitude on the whole cemetery job situation. We did plenty of nail biting and crying, so any chance to laugh was more than welcome! ... I have a fair amount writtien in this series, you can find them on my profile page. And of course more will be coming.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      HLPhoenix - I am so glad you like this. I thought long and hard about starting this series. i was not sure if it would be well received. Comments like yours are such a thrill to see.... Yes. The Super was one to go in all or nothing. We all had a great time working togehter, like a little family....

      HubPages really is an incredibly diverse community. You think it, you can bet somebody is writing about it. There are so many hubbers willing to give support, encouragement, and advice too. So happy to have you here.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Dana I had no idea how crazy you really are..lol I love it.. what a job you had.. that is so wild... the things we have to go through just to gt along with other people.. lol

      great hub..my friend

      sharing

      Debbie

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Dana, remind me never to piss you off, girl you're so wicked!!... Loved it. :).

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Most hilarious and so gutsy voted up!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      HI DEBBIE - yup. I am totally twisted! It was a really great job. One of those places where if you weren't laughing when you could, you would never make it....

      thanks for sharing!!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      tobusiness - thanks for reading. don't worry, if you rub me the wrong way, i promise to go easy on you. the first time... LOL!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      DDE - Thanks for taking the time to comment. I admit it took me a while to get up the guts to wrote this one. It was so funny I had to just do it.... thanks bunches for the vote up!!!!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

      April Fool's Day in your office must have been something! You have a wonderful way of telling your cemetery stories. It's good to know that people can have some lighthearted moments working in a cemetery. Very funny, though I wouldn't have wanted to be the woman who was scared out of her wits when a coworker popped out of the casket!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Stephanie Henkel - It really was a great place to work. We were like family. Just due to the natire of the job, if you didn't find ways to laugh, you would never be able to handle it.... I agree about the casket prank. I probably would peed my pants!!! :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      You are a natural story teller !! This is wonderful!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 3 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you Audrey. I enjoy it. Happy you liked this. It is such a thrill when others enjoy my stories. :)

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