This past weekend I received a call that would change my life forever. It came from a “head hunter”, which is an industry term for someone who goes out looking for the very best in the business. He was a very nice man, who called himself by the name of “Martin”. Martin the Head Hunter. I was not sure how they found my number or why they thought I would be the best man for the job, but ten minutes after the call had ended my bags were packed.
“An animal eulogist,” Martin explained to me, “is somebody who attends a funeral for a beloved family pet and delivers a series of words and sentences that does justice to the life of said pet.”
“And Northern Alberta you said?” I replied.
“It’s a booming business up there. If we can corner the Northern Alberta market, it will open up other, more fruitful territories for us. Who knows, maybe in 5-6 years, you could be writing and performing animal eulogies in your own hometown.”
That became the new dream. And to think, minutes before I received the phone call I was trying to decide between what flavour drink crystal to mix into my water.
It was a Sunday night and I would be leaving on a plane to somewhere in Northern Alberta first thing on Monday morning. But in the back of my head I couldn’t help but wonder: why me?
Martin Headhunter met me at the airport in “Northern Alberta”, where there was still snow on the ground and animals were everywhere. In the airport, animals were everywhere. A cow was driving a luggage cart. Other animals native to the Alberta North were doing other jobs that in normal places, people would do. I finally realized why the demand was so high for an animal eulogist. Tons of animals, many of which would eventually die.
I asked Martin why he chose me, of all people, to give the job to, and he said something under his breath about people not missing me if I was gone but then gave me the real reason: my low 80’s mark in some environmental writing class at the University of Victoria. I figured it must have been something like that.
“You couldn’t have come at a better time, Josh.” Martin told me as we jumped into his Volvo and began the trek to his bachelor apartment where I would be staying until I became successful. “I ran over some sort of woodland creature on the drive over and I’m sure it had a family. Let’s see what you got.”
“Is that what that smell is?”
Martin pulled over the car and opened the trunk. I stared right at the skunk. Or was it a ferret? I’d have to brush up on my animal knowledge. This is it. This is who I am now. A man who speaks kind words in front of animals who’s hearts no longer pump blood inside their bodies.
“Are you going to start or what?” Martin looked at me intently.
I closed my eyes and went with the first thing that flashed into my mind.
“Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘Friendship’ as ‘the quality or state of being friendly’. This animal not only had a family who loved him very much, but he had a large contingent of other animals who considered their combined state as being friendly. He or she would do anything for another soul, and it is very likely that he or she died by running across the road so that his or her friend did not have to take the risk. Look up in the sky. Did you see that shooting star? That was this little guy or girl giving us all a sign that you know what, everything is going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay.”
I looked at Martin, who was rubbing a tear off of his face while reaching into his pocket. He pulled out his wallet and produced a 5 dollar bill. He threw it at me.
“You’re gonna be a star, kid. You’re gonna be a star.”