Weird daysare par for the course.
There are days where very woman seems about to givebirth.
Days when you see hundreds of vertically challenged individuals.
Dayswhen obesity seems to be the norm.
Today took weird and shot into the stratosphere.
I’ve workedin advertising for longer than I care for, over 15 years. During this time I’vehad my fair share of strange clients, terrible briefs and bizarre requests. Ishould be fairly inured to strangeness. It turns out I am not.
The illustriousowner of the agency I am contracted to, made a rare visit to the office thisafternoon. Showing an unbridled enthusiasm that always make me reach for a Xanax,he invited me into the boardroom.
IO: Comeand meet our new client. I’ve got a fabulous brief for you, it’s going to be alot of fun!
This sortof comment makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. His brilliant briefs are inevitably nightmareswaiting to be born. Instead of an Armani wearing BEEntrepreneur I found alarge, sunburnt Afrikaans man in situ. He was also over-excited. The blooddrained from my head.
Do you wantto know the brief? You know you’re dying for it.
|This one gives you wings|
Coffins andcaskets are not the same. They differ in shape. Coffins have the tapering end,caskets are great big boxes.
Apparently it is a growth industry, although Ifound it a little crass to show such avarice in the face of the Grim reaper –tempting fate you might say.
IO: Hah!This must be a first for you.
Yup. It is.Although I quickly got into the swing of things and regaled them with the taleof my Great Uncle Wilsie who built wagons and made coffins at Keiskammahoek inthe Eastern Cape.
|Coke is it!|
He is, of course, best known for getting his big toe stuck upthe hot tap during a bath, but that is entirely beside the point. Havingestablished some common ground we got into the bare bones of it.
Sometime inthe recent past this man’s son came to him with the idea of tapping into theonly industry not really hit by the recession – death. 10 000 people a day diein Gauteng alone. He reckons on a profit margin of over R6 million a month.
Iwas told with a great deal of paternal pride that this particular offspring was extremely creative. Infact he designed and built a coffin in the garage and they were off. Today theyassemble a coffin or casket in under 7 minutes.
|24/7 connectivity from beyond the grave|
I thought I’dbetter some details on the job and proceeded to ask what wood he used. He doesn’t,not really. These are non-biodegradable coffins. They have wood in them, sortof – it’s a 3 ply wood and plastic mix I gather. In desperation I asked aboutthe handles and gold embossed lions. Not brass. Genuine plastic brass.
Keeping astraight face was becoming harder and harder, but I maintained a corpselikedemeanour of polite interest throughout. He was very impressed and apparently Iasked some insightful questions.
One of themwas, so can these be used for burial and crematoria?
Nope. They melt intoplastic gloop, so they do manufacture one of a suitably flammable material.
|Just do it.|
I struggledon. Were they made to measure?
After all what happens if a 9 foot tall basketballplayer drops dead?
These are one size fits all.
I assume they fold them upinside?
Actually, I shudder to think.
I got afooting on firmer ground. What were the unique selling points?
48 hour deliverycountrywide. That was about it.
Admittedly,a timber casket or coffin can set you back a good R35 000, so their prices arepretty reasonable even if you do get interred in gaudy splendour. Better yet,no-one is going to dig you up and sell your coffin on the black market.
|Snow White’s coffin|
By the timeI escaped I was desperate. I closed the door of the studio, sank to the groundand howled. When I proceeded to impart the brief to my comrades, they reachedthe conclusion I was taking the piss and it was a joke. “No!” I howled, “It’sdeadly bloody serious!”
I havequite often thought that I have reached the depths of hell in my career, but 6foot under is a new low.
I shouldn’tlaugh in the face of certain death. I’ve never had to arrange a funeral,however I have a friend who specialises infunereal planning. She is a sort of a wedding planner at the other end ofthe spectrum.
Unlike a wedding planner, I suppose she doesn’t really haverepeat clients. She does their make-up (the interees’), organises the music andall the rest.
She is a professional make-up artist. One day at a party shecomplained about constantly having to make small talk with inane schmodels. Ilaughingly suggested she contact a few mortuaries and offer her services foropen-casket funerals. Now she is making a killing out of it.
Now, I amfaced with writing a sophisticated, friendly and respectful website, brochureand promotional calendar about death. Yes, promotions. Two for the price ofone. Buy one get one free. Bulk discounts for family orders.
My mother,who shares my macabre sense of humour, had a field day. She suggested they turnthem into coffee-tables, clothes chests and wardrobes. The idea being you canhave one on hand when you need it. It could work. The Emos would love it.Coffin-chic. Turns out someone has already done it.
So far Ihave been told:
It shouldbe dead easy
Think outof the box
Don’t getburied in the work
Don’t take it lying down
It is, Ithink, the final nail in the coffin of my advertising career.
It could be thedeath of me.