Murphy Dome Diaries

A journalist observes life in the far north.


So I am working at the family business, a granite company, in a dusty windowless office typing out invoices and ordering earth-colored slabs that will be sliced and polished into elegant countertops for kitchens and bathrooms. We also sell grave markers.

I like my new job. I know. I too am surprised.

Somehow I managed to convince myself during the last 10 years of working in a newsroom that there is no better desk job. I was also afraid that working outside the news business would mean my career in news was over.

Maybe it is over. But I’ve decided that I should pursue the opportunities that present themselves today and try not to worry too much about what happens later. If I want to get back into news later, than just effing do it, right?

For now, it’s exciting to learn a new business. I only work 12 hours a week and my children are handling it just fine. (I know of no news reporter who only works 12 hours a week.)

I sold a headstone to a barista last week. Her mom had OD’d on pills in 2006. For reasons of her own, she had not gotten her mom a grave marker until this month on the eve of an expected move out of state. I loved her candor. She said her mom enjoyed singing and was a wonderful mother until losing both of her parents within weeks of each other. The grief was too much. She turned to pills and was never the same. She weighed 90 pounds when she died. Tragic, huh?

I like working with the local kitchen and bathroom designers and with the suppliers. And some of the contractors who come in looking for estimates are pretty nice to look at.

I am honored that my company has played a part in honoring the soldiers stationed at Fort Wainwright who did not make it back from this last tour in Afghanistan. We supplied their headstones for a memorial park. The dedication ceremony is scheduled for this week and I am invited.

I am trying to teach myself about marketing, which is fun and challenging. I started a monthly e-mail to the local builders highlighting a product. I am working on creating a more meaningful Facebook presence. I am gathering information for my boss to consider some print and radio advertising. I go to the local builders association luncheons.

Sometimes I am reminded of the early years in my newspaper career. I remember how thrilling it was to call people and ask questions about things I knew nothing about and than try to write about it with confidence and authority. It’s exhilarating to dive into something new. Scary and thrilling because, I mean, let’s face it: What business do I have marketing something or selling a woman a headstone for her mother who overdosed six years ago? And the woman acted as if coming to me for a headstone was the most natural thing.


4 comments on “Work

  1. Auntie Lia
    May 14, 2012

    Congratulations on the new job! Your boss is lucky to have you. Hope he gets home safely soon. Love to the monkeys.

  2. mfriedenauer
    May 15, 2012

    OK, funny story. My dad’s family in Rockford used to own a monument company. I remember playing around the shop and in the granite yard as a kid. My grandma was the marketing person. My grandpa owned it. My uncles and great-uncles did the carving and artwork. It was funny when they did my dad’s headstone, because they put all sorts of inside jokes and special little things on the stone. It’s a pretty cool gig when you think of it. And I think you’ll be brilliant at it. People will appreciate your unique sense of candor and sensitivity that somehow only you can make work, and make genuine.

  3. Bottle Washing Fairy
    May 16, 2012

    Confess to envy. I’ve always thought I might like to do that job, if it didn’t involve leaving where I live down here. Have fun! I suspect the sky is the limit with what you could do. And, you were the perfect person to help the woman with the heartstone.

  4. Lisa
    July 9, 2012

    I know that barista. I went to school with her. She is a very sweet lady. I didn’t know her mom, but I had my guesses as to what happened to her. Sad to hear what really happened…

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This entry was posted on May 11, 2012 by .
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