A few years ago, I read an article somewhere that said car manufacturers were considering changing how the lighting system on cars worked. That when the vehicle was on, the headlights would be on as well. It's a safety issue they said. Drivers don't turn on their lights when they're supposed to, like when it rains, or when it's dark - so the manufacturers were going to make sure the lights were ALWAYS on. In Europe, Volvo already does that. Wallys don't blink.
So, how would you know when a funeral was going by?
I don't know how it is in Europe, or even in other parts of the country, but here in the South, time stops when a funeral passes. It's like a reminder that for some, time doesn't exist anymore - and for others, a small amount of time can be an eternity. When you see the flash of the police motorcycle and a line of cars with headlights on, you pull over and wait, paying your respects to the unknown deceased as they and their mourners pass you by. And you're grateful, at least a little, that you're not the one in that procession. As the last headlit car goes by, you resume your life.
At least, that's how it used to be. Police escorts, headlights, and the stoppage of time.
Yes, Nikki - this is Elvis' funeral procession.
Today, I was returning to work from lunch, when a big van with yellow lights on top came up over the bridge. He flashed his lights a couple of times and went by me. What was that? Is there a speed trap on the other side of the bridge? Then came another van, lights on, full of plants. Then a hearse. Oh. A funeral.
I stopped my car, and the cars behind me stopped as well, and we waited while a bizzare assortment of vehicles passed us by. Two of the headlit cars were actually trucks towing what looked like race cars. Were they actually part of the procession? Or did they turn on their lights and join the parade just so they wouldn't have to stop?
I was considering my initial confusion, which was only added to by the strange procession when I realized that there was no police escort. Fairly recently, the city and the county decided that having a police escort for a funeral was not practical. That those officers should be out fighting crime or writing tickets instead. So left to their own devices, the funeral homes appear to have come up with the flashing lights on a lead van.
Sorry guys. It's not enough. It wasn't until the hearse was passing me by that I realized what was going on. A plain white van just doesn't say funeral to me. Even with the flashing lights that made it look more like it belonged to the power company or a mobile home moving outfit. You need to at least paint the word "funeral" on the front of the van and/or have your logo somewhere in evidence.
It was unsettling. And it goes against the grain. Are we just a step away from not acknowledging death as it passes us by now? First the headlights, then the police, and now the generic vans. The dead just don't get much respect anymore...