Why do we still have funeral processions?
Today while attempting to cross the bridge from New Jersey I approached the EZ-Pass lane only to discover traffic had suddenly come to a grinding halt. My first thought was that the bridge was raised for a passing ship. As I sat waiting patiently, I noticed that the lane to the far-right was moving smoothly. I also noticed it was head up by a hearse, and the cars behind it all had orange funeral flags. Myself and countless other cars sat at the bridge as the line of mourners passed through the toll booth without paying a dime. The lives of who knows how many people were essentially brought to a grinding halt for five minutes because some random person had died.
Your first instinct right now is to call me insensitive and whine that I should have respect for the dead. Fuck you. I didn’t know the person, I have zero attachment to them. I had no idea they even existed until their family decided they were so important that they should get exclusive right of way to cross the bridge. There are two possibilities here. The first is this person wanted a funeral procession that was going force traffic to stop for them, which makes them an inconsiderate asshole. The other is that the person didn’t want to be “that guy” after they died but his family ignored his wishes, and therefor the family are inconsiderate assholes. No matter how you look at it this dead person and their mourners have no respect for anyone else, so why should I have any respect for them? Death happens every day, it’s the one thing all living creatures have in common. As humans we grieve for our dead then for the most part continue on with our lives until it’s our turn. I’m not dismissing the pain the person’s loved ones are feeling, I’m just trying to figure out why it should have to impede on my day.
People like to justify this obtrusive archaic bullshit by saying it’s been a religious rite for millennia. You know what else was a religious rite for millennia? Putting gays and believers of other faiths to the sword. Just because we’ve “always done it that way” doesn’t make it a good idea. These religious rites were usually relegated to rich nobles who could afford a large fancy procession and force everyone to get out of their way. By forcing traffic to come to a grinding halt for your funeral procession, you’re essentially saying “Out of my way, peasants! Nobility coming through! Make way for the royal highness!” I’m pretty fucking sure Queen Elizabeth isn’t in that hearse, so again I reiterate my point: Why should your funeral impede upon my day?
Another pitiful justification of this stupid practice is that it makes it easier for everyone to get from the funeral home to the cemetery on time without getting lost. What year is this? Doesn’t everyone have GPS on their cellphones by now? Anyone who doesn’t have GPS or know how to get a printout from Google Maps at this point is either old or has a mental handicap, which means they probably shouldn’t be driving a car anyway.
The icing on this cake is that we’re not even supposed to pass them if there’s two lanes. I understand not wanting people to cut into a procession, but you’re telling me I’m wrong for going around them? Eat a dick, I have a life to live. I’m not going to sit behind a mile-long line of cars doing 15-20 under the speed limit out of “respect”. If I can safely pass them in the adjacent lane I’m doing it. I’ve even seen some processions drive in the middle of the highway taking up two lanes to prevent people from passing them. Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were transporting the Pope, you narcissistic asshole. Get the fuck back in your lane and get the fuck out of my way.
Some states have even gone so far as to make it a ticketable offense with points on your license to pass a funeral procession if the procession is in the left lane on a highway. I don’t know about internationally, but in the United States it’s generally agreed upon that the left lane on a highway is the “passing lane” or “fast lane”, so you can go around the chickenshit who’s doing 45 in a 65 because they’re scared of highway driving or high as a kite. In many states you can actually get pulled over and ticketed for hanging out in the passing lane for too long. Second, on most US highways the exits are usually on the right-hand side. Every now and then you’ll come across an exit on the left-hand side, but those aren’t as common. Barring that rare exception where the exit is on the left-hand side, I can think of no good reason for a funeral procession to travel in the left lane on a US highway.
And it’s one thing when the procession has the orange flags. Sometimes they don’t even have those, and I have to figure out what’s up by the fact that they all have their blinkers on. One time I even saw a procession almost t-bone someone turning at an intersection because not only did they not have orange flags, they didn’t have blinkers on. A long line of cars, not even headed up by a hearse, just blew through a red light at a busy intersection like they fucking owned it and almost killed someone trying to make a left turn. In what world is this acceptable? Fuck these people, if I was a cop I’d have written so many tickets that day that I’d have carpal tunnel syndrome.
If I ever become president (and I know I can because they told me I could be anything I wanted to be when I was in kindergarten, including president), I’m putting a stop to this. The funeral procession will be officially outlawed. Once the hearse has left the funeral home for the cemetery all mourners have half an hour to make it to the burial on their own. No more of this motorcade bullshit where people get to run red lights or blow stop signs. Exit the funeral home, get in your fucking car, and drive to the damn cemetery. If you don’t know how to get there, printouts from Google Maps will be provided to you on your way out the door. If you can’t get from the funeral home to the burial site within half an hour, either the burial site is too far away and needs to be reconsidered or you’re an idiot who can’t follow simple instructions. Whatever the case, you will no longer be allowed to selfishly obstruct the flow of traffic for the sake of your own convenience.
When I die, I want to extract my vengeance tenfold on society for allowing this asinine custom to continue. I want my funeral procession to effectively shut down the entire city of Philadelphia and parts of neighboring counties. I want a procession five miles long that gets on I-95 during the morning commute, takes a scenic tour of downtown Philly, heads through the Italian Market, passes through K&A and Frankford Terminal, goes through four different car washes, hits the Taco Bell drive-thru for lunch, takes a trip to Wildwood Beach, returns to Philly while passing every possible school zone during dismissal time, makes it onto I-95 again just in time for rush hour, passes the sports complexes (this will be on a day where the Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers are all playing), and wraps it up by stopping at a South Philly Italian restaurant (I prefer Dante and Luigi’s) before finally bringing me back to Old City to be buried in a marble tomb next to Ben Franklin himself. My procession will make the convoy from the C.W. McCall song “Convoy” look like a kindergarten Halloween parade.
Funeral processions might have been a good idea back in the middle ages, but they have no place in a modern society with motor vehicles and satellite-based navigation. We no longer have to worry about being ambushed by highwaymen or wolves while traveling, and we have maps and GPS to help us if we get lost. The funeral procession is both a needless nuisance and a danger to other drivers, and should be outlawed.