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Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Uh, I don't think so...
So I wandered downstairs to the mail box the other day -- unemployment offering endless opportunity to wait for the afternoon mail -- and found the above full-color glossy 5-by-10 postcard amidst the usual junk mail.
There he was, an alabaster Jesus hanging from the cross in a lush sylvan glade.
The pitch was on the flip side, in the form of a penetrating question: "Do you have a plan for what's to come?"
That had a rather ominous ring.
"We plan ahead for retirement," it went on. "We plan ahead for our children’s college education. But a surprising number of us fail to plan ahead for our funeral arrangements. At Catholic Mortuaries, we are here to guide you through the traditions, values and principles of your faith so that you are buried with reverence and respect."
I get the point; as a no-longer-young-person, I've now moved into the Death Futures demographic. Rather than dangling visions of flashy cars, fancy clothes, or diamond rings (items I wasn't particularly interested in thirty years ago, much less now), I've become the target market for the end-of-life industry -- long-term care insurance, funerals, and cemeteries.
Yes, I'm talking to you, Forrest Lawn...
Then came the hard-sell kicker in big red type:
"Save up to $800 on services with our special limited-time offer. Call 888-416-6440 today to find out more about the pre-planning process."
Such a deal. And you know, if I was Catholic (or had any faith whatsoever in the religious-industrial complex), I just might save up my unemployment checks to make that call. Religion is a business like any other, with a right to sell their proprietary smoke and mirrors on the open market. But -- unless there's something I don't know -- I'm not even on the verge of retirement, much less going six feet under for the Big Sleep, so what's the rush?
The answer, as usual, came in the very small print at the bottom of the card:
"Catholic Mortuaries, as subsidiary of Stewart Enterprises, Inc, offers Forethought ™ funeral planning funded through the purchase of whole life insurance from Forethought Life Insurance Company, Indianapolis, Indiana. A representative of Catholic Mortuaries, who is an agent of Forethought Life Insurance Company, can answer any questions you may have."
So what had all the appearances of being a message from a local branch of the Catholic church turns out to be from a grubby insurance company in far off Indiana -- an offer not from kindly old Father O'Blarney, but rather a hard sell from some insurance agent.
Why am I not surprised?
Just as I was working up a full head of angry steam about all this -- unemployment offering endless opportunity for that, too -- I happened to notice the name on the address, both of which were for the old lady in the apartment below.
I took the card downstairs and slipped it under her door, feeling younger with every step, the sun shining just a little bit brighter outside.