Sunday, September 13, 2009

Funeral Season

     "Hunter's Florist, Fish Market, Small Engine Repair and Taxidermy. How can I help ya?" answered the voice on the other end of the phone.  My brother-in-law, Jeff, was  trying to place an order for flowers to be delivered to my daughter. She was making her debut back in my hometown in South Carolina, and her uncle was unable to make the trip down from Richmond for the grand coming-out. He wanted to send her something special, and being somewhat of an amatuer expert in flowers, didn't want to take the FTD route in ordering a generic bouquet. He had a specific mix of delphinium, iris, star gazer lillies, roses, and hypericum beries in mind.  He dialed 411, requested Chester, South Carolina, and asked for the number of a local florist. He got more than he bargained for.
     Hunter's Florist, Fish Market, Small Engine Repair and Taxidermy is a family run entrepenuership that covers most activities taking place in a rural environment. Who needs Walmart with this kind of one-stop shopping? You can order dinner, complete with flowers, pick up your newly repaired chain saw and drop off the deer you  bagged that morning all at the same time.  Just make sure they stuff the deer and wrap up the fish,  not vice-versa.  One must be specific in such situations.
     "Well, you've got just about everything covered, don't you?" Jeff chuckled, when given his options.  "I really just wanted to send some flowers to my niece." 
     "Sure, what would you like to order? A corsage? Some roses?"
     He placed his order, articulating exactly what he wanted in the arrangement.
     "Wow, you sure know your flowers. We don't usually get specific requests like that," the young clerk answered. (Jeff had opted not to tell her his wife ran a floral business in Richmond, thus the source of his vast botanical knowledge.) "I'll have to see what we can do. When do you want these delivered?"
      "I was hoping they could be delivered today. " Jeff replied.  "The ball is tomorrow, and I'd like for her to get them before the festivities start."
     "Uh-oh," came the reply. "You do realize this is funeral season?"
      "Excuse me?" Jeff asked. "Funeral season? I didn't exactly know there was one."
     "Oh yes,  we are just swamped. We are just plain booked up with funerals.  Have five this weekend. Had four  last week. I don't know if we can get your order done, especially since you are so particular about your flowers. Where's it going, anyway?"
     Somewhat perplexed, he gave my parent's name and address to the clerk, still pondering how he had missed funeral season all his life. He'd heard of hunting season, debutante season, football season, and Old Bay Seasoning, but never ever funeral season. How do you schedule that?  More importantly, how do you miss it?
     He was pleasantly surprised when the florist announced that she passed right by my parent's house on her way home from work, and she would be more than happy to just run those flowers on by then.  This was customer service at it's best.  Special delivery in the middle of funeral season. He hoped Sissey would get the lovingly ordered arrangement and not a wreath with a satin ribbon declaring "We Miss You Moma" splayed across it. Things get hectic when it's high funeral season.  He took his chances and placed the order.
     When we returned to Richmond the following week, Sissey called her aunt and uncle to thank them for the beautiful arrangement.
      " Daly Floral Arranging, Pet Grooming, Sushi Bar and Tobacco Shop, How can I help ya?" a voice chuckled  on the other end of the line....and I knew funeral season had arrived in Richmond.

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