Shall We Rehearse?

I’m hungry! I’ll just stop up here and grab some breakfast…

I read much of my daily news on the Associated Press utility (when did “app” become a word? Honestly!) on my “smart” phone, which is not intelligent in itself, nor is it dressed well, a sharp pain, or brisk. It is definitely well-designed, but if I never turned it on, it would just be a well-designed chunk of glass, plastic, metal, and some exotic elements used in specific and increasingly clever and minuscule ways. I like this thing and it’s AP utility principally because I can invoke it when my attention flickers from whatever entertainment I have chosen and catch up on what others are doing with their lives.

A few days ago, by which I mean Friday, 19 May 2017, I noticed a headline in the “Most Recent” tab of the utility that piqued my curiosity, to wit:

Police: Body dumped along Texas road after hearse stolen

Okay, I may have said to myself, I will press my finger against the plastic membrane that protects the glass screen of my hand-held computing device and read more about this “Most Recent” news. It was a very brief piece, readable by you, dear reader, by clicking on the link above, which goes only to the apnews.com website and not down any ratholes of internet mischief, but I will summarize the story for you.

The driver, employed to deliver a recently deceased person from a location more closely associated with their demise to a funeral home selected, one assumes, by relatives of the decedent, found themselves in need of sustenance. And lo! there was a McDonald’s restaurant ahead, so this driver (I have not determined their gender, nor is it material to our story) pulled into the parking lot, exited the vehicle, and ambled inside to order some victuals (I’m going to pretend I know that it was breakfast on their mind as it was around 5:30 AM when the hunger struck our protagonist). As they perused the gleaming menu, ensconced in yellow plastic, as they watched and waited for the bleary-eyed, caffeine-fueled workers to fill orders for other supplicants at this purveyor of food-like items, nefarious deeds were being executed in the parking lot.

A person” (so says the news) entered the driver-side door of the hearse and, finding that (1) it was, in fact, thrumming away in neutral and/or (2) had the keys in the ignition and was waiting to be ignited, threw the gearshift into “D,” and drove away with the material remains of someone lying in repose on a gurney in the portion of the vehicle designed for this purpose. Approximately 90 minutes later, a passerby noted a corpse-like object supine on a gurney “on the side of” or “in the 6000 block of Dick Elliott Road.” A brief search of today’s (22 May 2017) news shows no indication that the hearse has been recovered, although the supine individual (gender not available to me) successfully completed their journey to the funeral home.

I am a curious person and this story raised several questions regarding the behaviors of at least two individuals of whom we know very little: (1) the hearse driver and (2) the hearse thief (an updated version of the more antiquated Texas vocation of horse thief).

Here are my questions, although I leave it to each of you to place them in a sequence of importance that you find most appealing:

  1. When a hearse driver is hungry, is it ever appropriate for said driver to stop between receipt and delivery of a decedent to allay the hunger?
  2. Is it appropriate for a hearse driver to stop for a meal whenever they are actually driving a hearse… regardless of contents other than themselves?
  3. Is it not possible that the mere presence of a hearse at a restaurant of any description (barring for the sake of argument fuel stations that have restaurants inside) may raise thoughts among those dining inside (or in the parking lot outside) that the driver is in the process of treating a decedent with less care than is warranted?
  4. Do individuals engaged in the act of sating their hunger want to think about hearses and their contents whenever a hearse driver thrusts that option before them?
  5. In areas of this nation, perhaps elsewhere as well, it is considered courteous to pull over and wait for a funeral procession to pass, whether that procession is performed by horses and carriages, by people on foot, or by a line of cars with their headlights on. If a hearse is involved, isn’t it already a procession marking the end of a life, and should that procession lead through a restaurant parking lot? Ever?
  6. Is it ever a good idea to leave (1) the engine running (either for convenience or temperature control) and/or (2) the keys in the ignition, and/or (3) the vehicle doors unlocked when the driver exits the vehicle whether for a stop at a restaurant or a restroom (in this context, “rest room” is fraught with other meanings)?
  7. If one finds themselves in a parking lot and sees a hearse sitting there, hears the engine chugging away in neutral, sees the driver exit the vehicle and do nothing to secure the vehicle, why does this bit of happenstance, of utter serendipity, turn into a perfect occasion to hijack the hearse, regardless of its contents?
  8. Was the person who jacked the hearse out that morning hoping to find a hearse to purloin or did it just seem like a good idea at the time? A better idea than, say, completing the more probable mission of having a bit of breakfast at the “Arches?”
  9. Having stolen the hearse, what would make the newly ascendant driver take a quick look in the back, notice that they were not alone, and decide that having a passenger in the hearse—a vehicle intended for the transport of supine and lifeless passengers—spoiled “the game” and the passenger had to go, but the hearse could remain with them?
  10. What was it about the 6000 block of Dick Elliot Road that seemed like the right place to pull the hearse over, place the transmission in neutral, exit the vehicle, walk around to the rear of the vehicle, open the large tailgate door with the glass window and pleated draperies, pull the gurney out with the individual in place, leave them “on the side of” or “in the” road, close the tailgate, return to the driver-side door, enter the vehicle and drive off?
  11. Where is the hearse? I mean, we are not talking about a white 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier, a car that must populate the roads of Texas and the U.S. in general in multitudes. The missing “car” is black, probably recently cleaned and polished, with large windows, curtains (! – this alone makes it rather rare amongst vehicles), and quite possibly the name of the funeral home etched into the window glass or painted on the doors. How hard could it be to find this vehicle? It’s been three full days and half of today and it is still out among the other hearses of America!

Those are my questions. There are probably other questions, but those are mine. Astonishingly, stealing hearses seems to be a “thing” here in the U.S. While finding the exact story I read from the AP utility, I found several other such stories:

Thieves steal Ohio hearse, dump corpse, leave note

Family chases down man who stole hearse with relative’s casket inside

If hearse-thievery is going to happen, perhaps Mumbai-based Lunatic Koncepts has the solution:

Is THIS driverless hearse the future of funerals? Bizarre transparent coffin beams hologram of deceased and plays their favourite song

I’m hoping that spontaneous human combustion will visit me in my last seconds and relieve me of these worries.

Adrift

Unmoored

Farce

Final

Featured image by Aalborg Stift