Monday, January 12, 2015

The Insider Secrets Story

                                                   The Insider Secrets Story
                           This is a story about the surprise I got in the cemetery trash pile
                                    Written 2014 and rewritten 09/06/2016 unedited                                          
                                                          Howard Yasgar

       Over the years, I have found that every job, every business and every profession has what are called insider secrets. These are things that only people in that particular business know about.
      Most of the time it’s better if other people don’t know about them, because sometimes the shortcut secrets may not be legal.
      We have all heard the saying, they use “Tricks of the trade”, those, are the code words used for describing insider secrets.  
      Usually we, who are the general public, are never made aware of these inside secrets, and we are probably better off not knowing, because some tricks of the trade are simply short cuts that make someone extra money. Some of these so called tricks of the trade are very serious and some are very illegal.
      An insider secret could be as simple as a carpenter leaving out a few nails from a job to make a job go faster, it cuts material and labor costs.  No one would ever know until a hurricane comes along and blows the roof off.
      The trick of the trade could be a stockbroker that sells his trusting customers stock that he already knows will soon tank and disappear off the market. The broker probably says, who cares, as long as he makes his commission. The trick of the trade could be as simple as a car salesman changing the mileage on the speedometer of a used car, he may think, who cares. The trick of the trade could be as serious as the surgeon who installs a pacemaker even after the patient has already died. He collects from the insurance company for the job and who cares, it’s just a trick of the trade.
       So, even though we hate to think or talk about it, every single business has some inside angle to make an extra buck. Sort of like the grocer that puts regular food on the organic food shelf, it’s just his trick of the trade, it’s how he makes an extra buck.
      I was talking to a friend the other day and the subject came up about cemeteries and what they do to make an extra buck. What were the tricks of their trade?  How we got on that subject I can’t exactly remember. But what I do remember was that back in 1954 when I was 15 years old, living in New Haven Connecticut, I needed to earn some extra money. That’s when my good friend Richie Andrade said he had heard there were jobs available at a local cemetery stripping grave blankets. I had never heard of a grave blanket.
      I know now that grave blankets are wooden frames with chicken wire nailed over them. At Christmas time florists would put pine boughs as well as flowers into the chicken wire making a pretty design and people buy them to lay over the grave of a loved one.
      All the wooden frames were useable again every year, and every year after Christmas when the flowers and pine boughs are all dried up, the cemetery workers would remove the wood framed grave blankets and hire kids like us to pull out the dead pine branches and flowers. They did it so the wood frames could be reused by florists the following year.
      The cemetery paid us kids twenty five cents each, for every grave blanket we cleaned up for them. After we were done, the cleaned frames were stacked up in the back of the cemetery prior to being sold back to the florists to be used the following year.
      Every day the cemetery employees drove around with a truck and picked up grave blankets bringing them to the back of the cemetery where there was a dump, that’s where we cleaned them off, throwing the dead pine boughs and flowers off a precipice and into the cemetery dump that was already filled with grass clippings, leaves, trash and other junk that the cemetery threw away. The cemeteries dump was sort of a ravine, and located so that no one visiting the cemetery could ever see any of the trash that was in the dump.
     One day while Richard and I were busy standing at the cemetery dump stripping grave blankets, and I noticed that heavy rain the previous day, it had uncovered from under the trash a big piece of gray granite. I was curious so I went down the slope to inspect it. As I worked my way down the ravine, I could see there were several other gray granite gravestones that had been dumped there. It was obvious that the cemetery employees had just recently disposed of them. The closer I looked, I could see that there were names on those granite gravestones, but it was way too spooky for me to try and read them.
      We wondered why a cemetery would throw away so many big grave markers that some ones family had paid for. Well, I never asked the cemetery employees. Although I’m sure there must have been a really good explanation. Or was this just one of the cemeteries little tricks of the trade on how they do their business?