Meeting Strangers: A Stranger On Life & Death

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Ivan here. 

Back in my consulting days, I remember sitting in a rental car next to Betsy (my project manager), as we drove two hours from Toronto to London (Ontario) en-route to a client site. The weather outside was overcast, and the world seemed grey and hopeless.

It was just the two of us in the car, which made small talk unavoidable. But honestly, I wasn’t very excited about “getting to know” Betsy. It was nothing personal. It was just that Betsy had been working for the company for the past two decades, the same company that was making me miserable . In my mind, two decades was simply too great a divide for us to have anything in common. 

But talk we did. The conversation meandered at first, as is often the case when both sides are grasping at straws, searching for something to say.  In the end, I learned three important things from Betsy, things I still remember to this day.

3 Things Betsy Taught Me

  1. Vernors is the best tasting ginger ale in the world. Way better than Schweppes or Canada Dry.
  2. The 2013 Toronto revival of Les Miserables is the best production of the musical since the 1986 West End London production. Betsy has seen every show since 1980, and attended both the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts. She goes as far as to book her vacations based on the musical’s touring schedule. 
  3. She’s already paid for her own death and funeral. 
“Hold on,” I said when she broke this news. “You can do that?” 
“Uh huh,” she said. “There are companies you can go through. It cost me $2,000.”
“But why?”
“Because funerals are expensive,” she said. “And I don’t want to put that pressure on my family to pay for it. If you do it early and prepay, you can get it up to 75% off. Plus, I get to plan it exactly the way I want. I know every detail down to the song playing during the ceremony and the hor d'oeuvres served at the afterparty.”
“Wow,” I said. I was speechless. Never in a million years did I think we’d end up here. 

For the rest of the drive, it was all I could talk about. Over the next hour, I got a play-by-play of Betsy's funeral program, set to the song of One Day More

One day more!
Another day, another destiny.
This never-ending road to Calvary
These men who seem to know my crime will surely come a second time...

It’s liberating to live in a world where we can choose how we want to live and how we’d like to die.
— Betsy