Jameson Piffle is a member of Local 106 of the National Union of Funerary Artists and Blacksmiths in LeBratt, Accadia. He has been a gravedigger for six months. Previously he served as steward’s mate on the Lake Pencil express ferry.
Some people like to say they’re pretty good at things. Well, I’m not. Pretty good basically says you’re almost good. I’m not almost good at grave digging. I am a good gravedigger. Yes, I am a really good grave digger.
One of the most important parts of digging a grave is to get the depth right. A lot of novice grave technicians are blinded by that old wive’s tale about the grave being six feet deep. A proper grave hole is six feet, five inches deep. Even experienced gravers get the depth wrong. But not me. Always six feet, five inches on the dot. I use a tape measure.
There are guys who skimp on the corners. You would think this wasn’t a big deal because the coffin’s going to go in and they’re going to fill in the dirt, so who cares about corners. You would be wrong in every way. A proper, cheerful-looking grave needs some sharp corners. That’s why I use a drafting T. It’s only a couple of extra minutes and the widows do so appreciate the effort.
Tarps are probably the most important maintenance precaution needed in the task of grave digging. Without a good tarp, all the work you put into good corners and just the right depth gets ruined by passing rain or even dew in the morning. Professionals prefer blue tarps, but some amateurs have been making advances in patterned tarps. I still prefer the blue, though. You can’t go wrong with a blue tarp. Make sure to weigh down the corners with some old bricks or chipped grave stones.
Now sometimes if you’re working a double shift, the Cemetery Captain might ask you to help fill in a hole here and there. Sometimes it’s busy, sometimes there’s just no one else around to help out. A lot of grave diggers turn up their noses at this kind of work because we’re grave diggers, not grave fillers. They’re a whole other union. But, I think you have to do what needs to get done, and if there’s filling needed and I’m around, I’ll be a grave filler for a couple of minutes.
Something special I like to do when no one is looking is spruce up the flowers on the graves. I don’t do this because I’m embarrassed, but because the Florists Local gets pretty darned upset if they catch you doing their job. I always think, though, that a nice cheerful grave needs some cheerful foliage, so I try to do my part.
And there you have it. I’ve met all three points for being a good grave digger, plus two points of things grave diggers don’t normally do.
I am a good grave digger.