24 – The Cemetery

John Ertle buried dead people in a huge cemetery in Cleveland.

Original McSweeney’s interview here.

Show Notes

1:08 When I interviewed John in 2013 he was a minor (I did not realize it at the time).

1:25 John did maintenance work at a cemetery for three years.

2:09 It’s the busiest cemetery in Cleveland–250,000 people are buried there. But there are even bigger cemeteries in Cleveland.

4:35 Suzanne plans to go to Bruce Lee’s grave. (After the pod she tried but could not find the cemetery entrance.)

5:07 John had friends come to bury their family members. He was wearing construction clothes. Awkward.

7:08 What can you steal from a dead person’s casket? Maybe not much.

8:00 You can get a mausoleum for your family, but if there are only three of you, you can use the fourth spot for your beloved silver collection.

9:05 Dying is expensive.

10:04 What if you have to spend eternity in a slot next to some asshole you hate.

12:30 They don’t swoop in to bury the body until the mourners are long gone.

13:44 His co-workers were from all walks of life. On guy was illiterate. Another guy who wanted to be a priest but it didn’t work out, so he worked for cemetery for 40 years.

16:30 One guy had mild elephantiasis and narcolepsy. This was the former priest. He was also a former clown.

17:40 When he had allergy attacks he spit out his dentures. They fell on the floor of his truck and he just put them back in. He was a nice guy though. He once fell asleep and drove over a bunch of graves.

21:10 He’s never seen a dead body. Could have been burying empty caskets for years.

24:00 John talks about how he crawls into holes.

26:50 They’ll bury one vault on top of each other. John would jump in and then “spiderman crawl out of there.” He remembers the first time they left him there.

30:25 Memorial Day – thousands of American flags put on all of the former service-members graves. Maybe a third of all the people buried there were veterans. Took 2-3 days to pick up all the flags after Memorial Day. Good time to take vacation.

36:27 One lady would leave travel-size shampoos on a grave, people would leave change, cigars, flowers (obviously). One person put a huge cross into the ground during the night… Sometimes a father’s day card…

38:40 A lady came in looking for a half-drunk Mountain Dew bottle that they’d thrown away. It was her deceased son’s. They had to find it in the trash.

43:49 Suzanne wants a Rocky-style statue put on top of her grave. (Actually cremation is fine with me)

45:00 Now he works at 5-star restaurant and grows hydroponic produce. (It’s cool because you don’t need to use chemicals to grow stuff.)

47:12 Does cryogenic freezing work? Eh, probably not.

49:27 Death is happening in bulk. Every day, all the time.