Maybe it’s because I usually try putting myself in other people’s shoes before passing judgment, but I’m going to buck the trend here on the latest viral outrage. The incident happened, as so many weird things do, in Florida, when a man named Rob Carpenter snapped a photo of a hearse with a flag-draped coffin carrying the remains of Lt. Col. Jesse Coleman parked at a Dunkin Donuts. Incredulous and upset, he confronted the drivers — two brothers in their 70s — when they returned to the vehicle with coffee and donuts:
“I’m like, ‘Is this really a body in here?’ and he says, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘So you have a dead soldier in the back of your hearse and you’re stopping to get coffee?’ And he didn’t say anything.”
Carpenter said the men didn’t seem at all remorseful. So, he sent his video and photo to the local group, Veteran’s Warriors.
Now the two men have been fired by their employer, Veterans Funeral Care in Clearwater, which is where they were driving from, to Lecanto, which is about 85 miles away and an hour-and-a-half drive in light traffic. That’s not exactly a quick trip for a couple of septuagenarians. About halfway to their destination, they stopped at a Dunkin Donuts in New Port Richey, where they sealed their fate in a world where brief snafus can go viral with devastating effects.
One of the brothers responded to the criticism after he was fired:
It can be argued that these guys should’ve taken into account the long ride and eaten before they left, but guess what. They didn’t. So, these two elderly men — and let’s stress elderly — who are still working, find themselves on the road at least 45 minutes away from their destination when they realize that they need nourishment. To the people who are upset about their decision, what exactly were they supposed to do in that situation at that moment? Were they supposed keep driving and hope they didn’t start to feel faint, lose focus, and maybe hurt somebody or themselves?
Admittedly, a hearse with a flag-draped coffin in a coffee shop parking lot isn’t a great look, but if these two guys needed food to stay alert while driving two tons of metal and a dead body, then so be it. Like one of them of them said, they’re humans. And now, they’re unemployed humans.
I hope everyone feels good about themselves.