A couple of days ago I found out that a colleague at work had once been a Death Clerk. We had been in a group doing one of those awkward “let’s-get-to-know-each-other-by-revealing-benign-secrets-about-ourselves” work bonding things that everyone dreads (but secretly delights in).
A Death Clerk? A Death Clerk? I immediately thought of a Public Servant Grim Reaper preparing lists of the soon to be departed (for the secret lives of Reapers, I thoroughly recommend the TV show Dead Like Me).
A Death Clerk works at Births, Deaths and Marriages, registering and filing death certificates. They have to call the funeral homes to get names and causes of death. I was fascinated, and I have to admit excited. Because my lovely readers, the news that there was such thing as a “Death Clerk” is about to change January’s life.
Since the first draft of The Graphologist’s Apprentice, January has worked in a nameless and nothing job. I had no idea what she did, apart from complaining that she had to work doing, well, nothing. I couldn’t even articulate why she hated her job apart from that it didn’t live up to her expectations (ho hum).
But now she will be a Death Clerk, and what could be more than her own personal hell than dealing with death, day after day, when she is so scared of mortality that she can’t live? Being stuck in a job where she has to deal with people at their worst, people grieving and having to be sympathetic to them? Of course she hates her job, it is a daily reminder of her worst fears.
But of course as one problem is solved another opens up – I have written a whole heap of stuff around January being stuck in a cubicle, the layout of the office…
I wonder how long I can hang out in the Births, Deaths and Marriages Office before I’m escorted from the premises?