By on April 5, 2018

It’s odd how the same thing can make some people laugh and others feel offended. There are countless examples in a popular culture that cultivates a new outrage du jour practically every day. Even well-intended comments are seen as provocative. Hie thee to Twitter or Facebook for your regular fix of dopamine.

I was reminded of this while my siblings and I were making preparations for our mother’s recent funeral, may her memory be for a blessing. We were sitting in an office at the Hebrew Memorial Chapel, and along with guides and books on Jewish mourning practices, the funeral planner offered us some magnetic signs the chapel had made to discourage texting while driving, and also, I presume, to promote its services (it’s a non-profit community-based organization).

The 6-inch round signs read:



Your Community Funeral Home

What was interesting to me was how we all reacted to the attempt at humor over a literally deadly serious topic. Both my brother and I thought it was cute while our two sisters thought the sign was possibly offensive or in poor taste. That surprised me a bit because both of them live in the New York City area, where discourse can be a bit frank at times.

The almost opposite reactions made me think this would make a good Question of the Day. Is it appropriate for a funeral home to joke about death behind the wheel? Are you offended by it? Did it make you laugh or smile?

My family was divided on the topic along gender lines. So, if you plan on commenting, please show the picture to your significant other or friends of both genders and report their reactions as well.

[Image: Ronnie Schreiber/TTAC]

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62 Comments on “QOTD: Is It Offensive for a Funeral Home to Joke About Distracted Driving?...”

  • avatar

    A funeral home joking about not wanting your business *right now* is perfectly legit, particularly in this context. Younger people need to see this message whether or not it wads their shorts.

    • 0 avatar

      Male Boomer here, and I don’t think that it’s offensive at all. I’m pretty sure that my Boomer wife would agree.

      It doesn’t cross the line because it implies that the FH wants you to do well, even at their own expense. Crossing the line would be to rephrase it as “Keep texting and driving. We’ll be here waiting for you”.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. This country has gotten way too “navel-gazing”, as we called it in the late 60’s. Must be a sign of the fact that times are too good, that we worry about things like this.

  • avatar

    People will get offended over anything/everything. There’s nothing to this sign that any level-headed, unemotional, and mature person would get offended at.

    It sounds like your sisters are in an emotional state and just aren’t thinking straight. Which makes sense with the passing of your mother.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t bother me one bit.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    The message makes a serious point in a fairly clever way. There’s nothing wrong with it. If some find it too blunt, that’s the point. Subtlety is lost on those for whom the sign is intended.

  • avatar

    I would not call that ‘funny,’ but I do think this is great humor. It is tactfully done, and advances a good message about safety.

    It is a tough question, Ronnie. The crux of the problem is, who can legitimately represent the dead?

    • 0 avatar

      Its “Gallows Humor” and its absolutely an acquired taste.

      However its not the dead that need representation, but rather the living who will become dead thanks to distracted driving.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d much rather laugh than cry – even if it is at the futility or the inanity of a situation.

        But then when I left the classroom I became an “at will” employee so I’m constantly having to choose which hill might be worth dying on, so to speak.

      • 0 avatar

        The dangers of “distracted driving” are vastly overblown, in particular the idea that it is as dangerous as drink driving. As someone else posted, if that were the case then there should be a large spike in road deaths starting around 2006. In the US there were ~40k road deaths for a population of over 320m, of which ~40% were allegedly alcohol related. These numbers have been fairly stable despite the population explosion and the advent of new safety features in cars, I guess they are countering each other. If distracted driving was actually killing people at the rate of drink driving then there should be an additional ~16k deaths

  • avatar

    Hopefully any snowflakes who are offended by this will soon go to their final safe space.

    • 0 avatar

      Now, you are aware that the “snowflakes” here are the author’s siblings, and they just lost their mother, right?

      There is such a thing as being overly sensitive, and there’s also such a thing as being overly insensitive.

  • avatar

    It’s hilarious! Only downside is the reality of the situation where the people who feel their phones are more important than driving are never the ones who get hurt; it’s everyone outside whose lives they ruin.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t bother me. If it saves even one life, it’s worth it.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Anything is out of place.

  • avatar

    As a whole funeral homes are no different from any other business. They actually tend to be worse than that buy-pay-here lot Salesforce.

    • 0 avatar

      So true.

      And it was over 20 years ago when several counties in my home area of West Alabama were engulfed in a “funeral home war.” New funeral homes were opening, some changed ownership/management, and nearly all were competing against each other for business. It was like vultures staked out all over the place. Some of these guys were even bold to hire paid “stalkers” roaming the halls of the hospitals and nursing homes. What’s more disrespectful than for your family to be gathered near the room of a terminally ill loved one, and some clown shows up, acting all sympathetic and then hands you a business card and says “Remember us when that time arises, and we’ll be there for you.”

      All this came to an end when the insurance companies got involved in the scheme. The family of a just-deceased person had called a funeral home to pick up the body, when a agent for a local insurance company arrived and demanded that the body be transferred to another funeral home-the family didn’t know the agent had sold a policy to the deceased that was to be honored by the other funeral home. Also, the agent was the pastor of the church the deceased and his family attended, and that the pastor was to officiate the funeral.

      A lawsuit was filed, and the state insurance commission investigated, and it was revealed that several funeral homes and small insurance companies had collaborated to control the direction of funerals in the area. Even worse, some of the insurance agents and funeral directors were either pastors, officers or members of the churches that were caught up in this mess.

      Because of this, some funeral homes and insurance companies were closed.

      Yep, they can be shady as hell.

  • avatar

    I think it’s funny, and it’s even funnier if you say it aloud, with a “Jewish grandma” accent.

    (Condolences for your loss, Ronnie.)

  • avatar

    The only way to avoid offending some people is to say nothing to them. On second thought, they would then complain that you snubbed them.

  • avatar

    I think its funny, and at the same time delivers a message.

    My wife I were playing at a local rotary club golf tournament ..My wife was on the organizing committee and created a foursome of local funeral home directors .

    I can’t count the number of one liners and jokes we heard. Like “so the next group is on the Par 3 green .Bring out your driver Bob , we need the business” And then there was the “we better pick up the pace the grim reapers are right behind ” Don’t you guys use a black Colf cart with curtains ” .

    This was an older crowd, and mostly all got a big kick out it.

    Some didn’t ?

    As one who has dealt with my share death, and illness , I find laughter a great medicine .

    Oh,,and Ron.. condolences on your loss..

  • avatar

    The question should have been why we worry about being offensive in the first place. If this business is willing to take the risk, what do we add to the discussion.

    Also, it is no longer meaningful to talk about whether something is “offensive.” Offensive to whom or how many? For what reason? And if offensive to some group or other, what does that have to do with who said it? None of this is even implicit in most discussions, including this one. Does it offend people who know people who died in a car accident? If so, why? My personal opinion is that the loudest complainers are not actually part of the “victim” group, but relatively unbalanced people looking for cheap virtue.

  • avatar
    John R

    i don’t have a problem with this.

  • avatar

    lol – NO it’s not offensive.

    It is classic advertising. But then to me nothing is really sacred.

    My old F150 had a sticker from our visit to the Mark Twain museum in Hannibal, MO.

    “Go to heaven for the climate and hell for the company.” – Mark Twain

    I’m sure quite a few of the born again set got their shorts in a wad but I found it hilarious.

  • avatar

    It could be worse. At least their slogan isn’t “We put the fun in funeral!”

  • avatar

    I think it’s cute/funny/clever. Maybe the staff presenting it to your family under those circumstances wasn’t the best moment. (Comedy is often at least 50% timing.)

    And in keeping with Ronnie’s request: I showed this image to my dog, who is a girl. She booped the screen with her nose. I’ll take that as her signaling agreement.

  • avatar

    It’s clever. It doesn’t have to be funny and it’s easy to interpret it as serious.

    Funny would be “Don’t text and drive unless you’re an excellent multitasker. We’d rather wait [for your business].”

  • avatar

    Condolences Ronnie.

    I don’t find it offensive in the least…better that than meet a family who lost a loved one prematurely.

    I used to work for a company called Baue Funeral Homes in St Charles MO. They had billboards that said “use drugs and get stoned” with a monument that read “your name here” and put a wrecked car on a trailer in local parades that had banners on it “don’t drink & drive”.

    It’s a grim business to be in, that’s why it’s called The Dismal Trade. You either have to laugh or cry. My current employer had a float in the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day parade the other day with shirts that read ” we dig the Reds” with a crossed-shovel motif.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    No. If they lose business over it, so be it, otherwise it is okay in my book.
    (The recent removal of Owen Benjamin’s twitter and youtube accounts might have something to do with my mood right now)

  • avatar

    I find this great,not offensive at all. the sisters may have felt that way do to loss of mother (my condolences) anyone else offended by this has real problems!!!

  • avatar

    It depends on the context.
    If I saw it on a car, I would find it amusing. However, in the context that you described – offered to you while making arrangements for a loved one’s funeral, I would find it in bad taste.

    • 0 avatar

      Hilarious — except when presented in the packet with other information going to the bereaved. That was lousy timing!

      Condolences to you and yours, Ronnie.

  • avatar

    Not offensive to me. Our culture is so fearful of death that we’re afraid of triggering someone’s grief even at the mention of a loved one, or the fact they are in fact dead. It’s over the top.

    We will all die. You can laugh about it or cry about it, and I choose to laugh. Hopefully my final words will be a joke.

    If that offends you, than I am truly sorry. For you.

  • avatar

    It’s a damn good message. Texting in a car should be a felony.

  • avatar

    Its funny and a good advise.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t bither me a bot.

  • avatar

    Texting and driving is so dangerous that road fatalities and accidents are skyrocketing since the advent of smart phones and social media. Oh wait.

    It’s a joke about a joke. Very meta.

  • avatar

    Ronnie-sorry for your loss.

  • avatar

    In response to a spike in murders here in Columbus, a local funeral home put up billboards and ads on TV saying “Stop the killing: we don’t want your business that bad.” Some people say they are offended. Am I missing something here? How does wanting people to live and not be killed become offensive? We should all be for it.

  • avatar

    Well, it’s fine for a co-op community-based firm. If it were the usual for-profit bunch of utter incompetents like I had recently for my mother’s funeral and arrangements, I would be entirely unforgiving. I’m fed up with commercial concerns trying to be “funny” or issuing hand-on-heart advice of the wan Reader’s Digest variety, because they don’t mean it, the moneygrubbers.

  • avatar

    I think it’s a good message. I’ve nearly been sent to Valhalla by drivers playing with their phones.
    Not so good to see it if making arrangements for a family member.

    Back in the 1970s I saw a sticker a few times, “DRIVE LIKE HELL. YOU’LL GET THERE!”

  • avatar

    My dad is known to occasionally yell “DRIVE LIKE HELL. YOU’LL GET THERE!” at the more reckless drivers who pass.

    I don’t see a problem with the message or its intent. Although I will say that a local funeral home once had a billboard in town that showed some dowdy looking dress with an arrow pointing to it. The sign read: If you say you wouldn’t be caught dead in that… you’d better call us first.”

    To me, that’s worse than the example here.

    Very sorry for your loss, Ronnie.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    No one gets out alive, man. Godspeed to your Mom, Ronnie. Hope she had millions of good innings.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t offend me, the message is good, but I don’t find it very clever or funny either.

  • avatar

    I don’t see a problem. One of our local mortuaries has been running a similar ad for years now that says:


    (I kind of think that they might have been running it since the 1960s or so.)

  • avatar

    I’m offended by those who are easily offended. If you’re that sensitive and emotional then there’s something wrong with you and you should be euthanized.

    How’s that for offensive?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m insensitive to your offensiveness but I am sensitive to your being offended by those who are easily offended. However, not being easily offended, I am not offended that you’re offended, nor am I offended by your offensiveness. I will try to remain objective and unemotional about it. Ah-HA!

    • 0 avatar

      I think you aren’t trying hard enough. Euthanization will be legal shortly. You should have said “waterboarded.” It doesn’t kill you, but I understand it’s much worse than death or Trump.

  • avatar

    Best bumper sticker seen lately:

    “Want to meet God? Keep texting and driving.”

    I thought it was great.

  • avatar

    Context and timing are everything.

    To this day I react negatively to the Simpsons episode “Screaming Yellow Honkers” because of the scene with Marge and the funeral procession. The first time I saw the episode I had just lost a loved one and so that bit was “too soon” for me at the time.

    I’m sure if I’d seen the episode a month earlier or later I would feel differently, but it is what it is.

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