Paying Your Respects… To-Go: When Convenience Goes Too Far

If you’re a comedy junkie like me, you’ve seen all of Rickey Smiley’s comedy specials atleast a million times. There’s one stand-up special, in particular, from BET’s Comic View 2004 (known for the “We Miss Robert” joke), where he makes a joke about a drive-thru funeral home.

At the time, it was hilarious and outrageous. In fact, it’s still hilarious and outrageous, but it’s also a very real thing. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that  a funeral home in Compton has set up a drive-thru to view the body of the deceased in Paying Their Respects Outside Funeral Home. Yeah, you read it right. Now, in L.A. and even Chicago and Louisiana (news reports date back to 1989), you can pull up to see your deceased friend/colleague and say your goodbyes  right from your car.  I didn’t know how to feel about it at all until I read the response from Scott Adams of Adams Mortuary.

The story reports, “You can come by after work, you don’t need to deal with parking, you can sign the book outside and the family knows that you paid your respects,” said Scott Adams. “It’s a convenience thing.”

Convenience? Like a Michelina’s pasta dinner or instant grits? Like fast food or a drive-thru daiquiri shop in New Orleans?  I think that’s the most tasteless thing I’ve ever heard of. No disrespect to families who have authorized the “drive-thru feature” for their deceased loved ones, but though slightly logical, it strikes me as a bit insensitive. Maybe I’m over thinking though.

Sure, the story makes decent selling points about the service, such as making it easier for seniors who can’t get in and out of cars, for families who don’t want to or have the means to have a formal service for their loved ones and it allows the deceased get more “exposure.” I don’t know if it’s specific to the African-American culture or not, but we love to “see ’em.”  You do remember Yolanda King, daughter Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don’t you?

All that said, I’m still at a loss here.

We live in a “microwave” society where we’ve become used to getting whatever we want at the drop of a dime (Ex: You mean I have to go inside of the bank?). No one wants to be inconvenienced, but there are some situations in which you should put forth some effort. I’m not sure a funeral-on-the-run is enough. If it’s too much to park at a funeral home, drop a card or sign a guestbook and take a quick glance at someone you deemed important enough to pay respects to, what’s the point of going? To add insult to injury, their bodies are put on view in a drive-thru? I don’t know how I’d feel rolling up on a dead body, then having to drive off. There are still times when I think about my grandmother while driving, and I get choked up. Is that safe, or do you have someone drive you, in case you get too emotional? If there’s a line, is there a time limit on the viewing time?

So many questions, so little time. I’m not saying it doesn’t work (it really has no choice but to work), but that would never be an option for any of my loved ones. Even if someone I knew had a drive-thru funeral, I’d still inquire about going in. They deserve atleast that much.

*Photo courtesy of


One thought on “Paying Your Respects… To-Go: When Convenience Goes Too Far

  1. I’m with you on this one, Alisha. Especially the last paragragh. I’ve heard of these but I’ve never done it. And I couldn’t. Not knocking anyone who does or can, but I could never do that to a loved one.

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