"Hello, Ms. Tanaka. My name's Alfred. How can we at Elysian Options be of service to you today?"
"Good morning, Alfred. Are you a live person? I hope so."
"Of course, we would never use artificial intelligence, robotics, program tapes, or any of those mechanical and impersonal devices for transactions such as these. Ms. Tanaka, I was born on July 17, 2000, 30 years ago in Anniston, Alabama, and it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"Oh, thank heavens. I'm so frustrated with telephone trees and computer generated voices. My doctor even used a computer voice to give me my Sixty-Day Death Certification Notice."
"That's so tacky. Ms. Tanaka, you have our condolences."
"Thank you, Alfred. I have been preparing for the death notice for the last year. I have also been trying to make some sense of my Medicare death benefits for even longer than that. I'm hoping that you'll be able to help me in bringing order out of the chaos of bureaucratic red tape."
"Absolutely, cutting red tape's our specialty."
"Gee, I'm relieved to be talking to a real person, a competent person, at last. I didn't anticipate dying to be such a complex process."
"We'll simplify that process for you. I promise you that."
"And you will help me understand what options your company provides and which ones are covered by Medicare?"
"Absolutely. I have your Medicare number and your physician's certifications in front of me right now. I have reviewed them in preparation for this call. I'm pleased to inform you that you qualify for all of our A-List services. Would you like me to explain these A-List services to you?"
"Alfred, I'm just looking for a traditional burial."
"I understand. We have pure organic burial services. We have traditional coffin burial services. We can provide any combination of these. All our organic burial services are covered with no out-of-pocket expenses to you. Our traditional coffin-based burial services require a $100 out-of-pocket expense for Hardware Recovery Services."
"What's an organic funeral?"
"In the basic organic service, we provide a winding-sheet, there's no embalming or dressing of the body. The body's washed, placed in the winding sheet and buried as is. There's no headstone or other grave marker. The survivors are provided with the GPS coordinates for the grave site."
"Do you provide a burial plot?"
"No. I'm afraid that Medicare coverage does not include a burial plot. Now, we also have Cremation Services where no burial plot's required. Cremation Services come with independent, third-party verification of remains. There's a DNA sampling by a third party to ensure that the remains are those of the deceased. You have probably read about unscrupulous service providers who have mingled or misrepresented the remains. We guarantee our services."
"Oh, that's wonderful. I feel much more comfortable with the cremation option now that you have explained it. What's this 'Liquefaction' option that you have listed here?"
"Ah, this is our most recent service. You're among the first to have an opportunity to consider this service. Liquefaction is the process of rendering the entire body fluid. Just as in a cremation, the remains are provided to the loved ones. The advantage of Liquefaction is that the remains can not only be added to the soil but added to paints, ink, dyes, even nail polish. And the remains are safe for human consumption. There're so many creative ways that the liquid remains can be utilized."
"Consumed? How bizarre. I, I suppose the loved ones could drink the deceased as a final toast to the dearly departed."
"Well, well, that idea never occurred to our marketing department or me. Just give me a second to type this in."
"What're you typing? I imagine, one could bathe in the remains or, depending on the amount, at least, wash one's face and hands in the, the residues. That gives a whole new meaning to the old saw of washing your hands of someone."
"Oh, that is a thought. Just give me a minute here. Thank you for your patience. I have just alerted the marketing department to your comments. Now, if Liquefaction does not appeal to you we also have our Historical Diorama option."
"Yes, this option's rapidly growing in popularity. The Diorama option's available to a select few in conjunction with the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. The deceased's preserved in a life-like manner --"
"Life-like manner? Do you mean, stuffed, like in taxidermy?"
"Ah, yes, but also using advanced methods from mummification sciences. The results are, are astonishing. You have to see it to believe it, Ms. Tanaka."
"Kiko. Please call me Kiko. I'm eager to see your diorama, but what's the purpose of this preservation and display of the dead?"
"Ms. -- I mean, Kiko -- the life-like remains are presented in a natural setting. By a natural setting, I mean, in a replica of the deceased's own living room or other favorite places. The deceased prerecords a family history and other family members, and friends contribute to this history with words, pictures, artifices, or videos. The diorama and history are available at a local Museum and online at the Smithsonian."
"Extraordinary! You mean, I could be part of a museum display with my history presented to the public at large?"
"Yes, your history and, a three-dimensional representation of you, would be available for your community, your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. I'm sending you directions to the closest museum to you so that you may have an opportunity to check out this option first hand."
"Thank you, Alfred. I'm still trying to process this choice. This is, I don't know how to describe it. I'll definitely investigate these Historical Dioramas. I just never imagined."
"Ms. Tanaka, I mean, Kiko, I think this option would be perfect for you. Our records indicate that you are 93 years old and you would leave a rich legacy for your family, the community, and everyone interested in our turbulent history of the WWII years."
"Yes, that's important history. It needs to be preserved."
"Kiko, do you remember the Internment Camps?"
"I was very young. For a long time, I tried not to remember."
"It must have been a very painful and difficult situation. You are very strong to live through that."
"Alfred, you have been very helpful and very kind. May I contact you directly after I have made my decision?"
"Absolutely. I'm sending you my direct contact numbers. And, if you have a moment, I have a message from our marketing department. They very much appreciate your comments. As a thank you Elysian Options would like to offer you your choice of a free B-List service. These B-List services are not covered by Medicaid or many other insurances. However, we're offering you these services for free."
"We have adult Hospice Services. Many elderly persons are deprived of their conjugal companions by death, divorce or other situations. Adult Hospice Services provide such companionship."
"I, I don't know what to say. This is, I mean ... Isn't that kind of service illegal?"
"Not in your state at this time, as long as there is a prescription for these services. It's called an end of life comfort prescription."
"Now, that would get my children's attention. And, what would my younger sisters think? That's so, so I ... Well, Alfred, you have given me a lot to consider. I thank you again for your assistance."
"Kiko, it has been my privilege to serve you. Please call me if you have any additional questions or concerns. I thank you again for choosing Elysian Options."
"Alfred, ah, if I were to choose Adult Hospice Services from your company would you be available --"
"Ms. Tanaka, I mean, Kiko, I'm flattered and honored. But that's a different part of the company that provides that service. However, if you'll hold on for just a moment I'll check with my supervisor."
"I, I don't mean to place you in an awkward position, Alfred. I thank you again --"
"Just a moment, please ... Kiko, I'm fortunate to have an understanding manager, and if you do select the Adult Hospice Services, I would be very proud to provide you those services."
"Alfred, I'll be in touch soon. I thank you again for your help and the amazing array of products that you offer. Your services may make this transition so much more, dare I say, interesting?"
"Kiko, I'm delighted to have made your acquaintance. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you again for choosing Elysian Options and me."
Article © Frederick Foote. All rights reserved.
Published on 2016-11-21
Image(s) are public domain.