Behind the Gravediggers

“A person whose occupation is digging graves,” that is how dictionary.com defines a gravedigger. We see gravediggers everywhere in a cemetery, literally digging graves. In our country, the occupation is treated as a very low kind of job. Furthermore, they do not get a stable earning, because it is not everyday that they get a client. Although in other countries, gravediggers get a fixed salary. For instance, in US, gravediggers get 10$ to 20$ per hour, and they usually work from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. That means that a typical gravedigger there earns 80$ o 160$ a day. They also get sick time and vacation pay; besides those, they also get other perks. But, what does it take to be a gravedigger? Some people may think that it is easy to be a gravedigger. Nevertheless, gravediggers are required to be discreet, physically fit and knowledgeable about gardening.

                A gravedigger should be discreet. Discreet in the sense that he should be cautious on how he decides to approach a client. The client being pertained to is a grieving client. Since the gravedigger is responsible for preparing the grave of the dead person, he will be encountering lamenting people. In relation to this, he should know how to treat them with respect. Furthermore, he will need to do some negotiation for the dead person’s grave, for instance where the hole should be made. This just shows that a gravedigger should have a lot of patience, because he will not be able to get clients if he does not have huge amount of patience. Just think how the client will feel if the gravedigger shows how annoying the grieving of the client is. Short patience is equivalent to fewer clients.

                A gravedigger should be physically fit. Physically fit because digging for graves is not an easy work. One should have upper body strength, for the reason that he will be carrying heavy equipments or maybe a heavy shovel. This is why mostly in the cemeteries we go to here, in the Philippines, gravediggers or what we all call as sepulturero are mostly male. There are females, but they carry the less strenuous job. For instance, cleaning the grave is what women gravediggers usually do. The idea of gender inequality is present though, but that is the idea of looking for a gravedigger. He should be prepared to handle heavy machineries and materials. Also, digging a 6 feet 5 inch hole is not easy. He will need all the upper arm strength he can gather from his body to be able to dig a hole that deep.

                A gravedigger should be knowledgeable about gardening. This is because in cemeteries, grass is present, and since people cannot just go to the cemetery everyday just so that they can preserve the green dewy grass of the dead relative. They give this kind of job to gravediggers. The gravedigger will be paid monthly by their client. Their job is to keep the grass in perfect shape. In some cases, since trees are also present in cemeteries, they get extra earning in trying to avoid getting the roots of the tree to destroy the grave. For example, in our family’s case, our spot in our cemetery has this old huge tree standing near my great grandmother’s grave. Since we did not expect for the roots of the tree to actually destroy the lower grave of my great grandmothers lifted grave, the roots of the tree just cracked the cement and caused the grave to have an opening. With that, my uncle hired a gravedigger to fix the situation. The gravedigger chopped the tree off and fixed the grave. This is an additional earning on their side.

                Gravediggers should not just be discreet, physically fit and knowledgeable in gardening. Other factors also determine how a gravedigger should be. There is the trait of being a good negotiator. For me, they should be able to “sales-talk” their client. They will not earn if they do not smooth talk their client. Another factor is their ability to be approachable. This means that it will be better if the client will see the gravediggers as friendly and approachable workers. It is what customers look for, workers that are friendly-looking. In addition to the factors, there is the factor that the gravediggers should know how they will manage their time. This comes into a benefit in the peak of their job, especially during the months of October and November, where gravediggers are in huge demand. They should be able to keep track of their time to be able to get more and more clients. Nonetheless, gravedigger is an occupation in which people should look up to. It is not an easy job, and keeping up with the factors is highly needed to be able to earn more.

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This entry was published on March 20, 2012 at 5:56 AM and is filed under Career Features, Loyola Memorial Marikina. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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