Funeral flower shop

Louis is a young man, only 24 years old this year. He has been working in his family flower shop since he was 17 years old. Recently, he decided to take over the business of his family, in order to meet the wishes of his parents. In the beginning, he was just responsible for the computer paperwork, handling the boxes of goods, and helped modifying the flowers only. But as his parents are getting older, naturally he has had to shoulder more work.

年紀輕輕的Louis,24歲,早在17歲已經到家人開設的花店幫忙。直到最近,決定接手家族生意,以滿足雙親將花店承傳下去的願望。他說,最初時只是負責電腦的文書工作,處理一箱箱的貨物,修飾一下花朵而已。但是家人年紀逐漸老邁,自然要肩負起更多工作。

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(Louis the flower shop owner 花店老闆 )  (店面擺滿著客人的訂單)

He said that in the past, it was easier for immigrants get into this industry because they would get additional points. However, in these years they had already lost this advantage, because everyone can participate in this industry. Moreover, there is the high cost of maintenance: rent is becoming more expensive every year and minimum wage is rising, and so on. Under these worsening conditions, it is getting more difficult to operate the business. Fortunately, because there are other partners, who are funeral home owners, they are able to bring the business to the flower shop.

他說,以前做這個行業是專業人士,移民外國可以獲得加分,可是近年已經失去這項優勢,什麼人都可以參與這個行業。而且,成本高、租金貴、支出多、最低工資等等因素影響下,實在很難營運。幸好,因為花店還有其他合夥人,他們同樣是殯儀館的老闆,所以能夠將生意帶到自己花店。

 

Are there any more factors that make your business hard to operate? Yes, the quality of medical treatment in Hong Kong are better than before. The death rate is declining in Hong Kong and the competition in the industry is very fierce. Therefore, we have cater for traditional festivals as well, especially Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. On the whole, the business of the funeral industry in Hong Kong has all declined. The biggest reason is that Hong Kong’s economy has deteriorated. Now is the peak season of the funeral industry, but today only a few cases of business, how to make money? If you ask me, this industry is certainly a sunset industry.

還有其他因素令生意更難做嗎?有,近年香港的醫療條件比以往好,人口死亡率下降,加上行內競爭真的非常激烈。所以,我們現在連情人節、母親節都要做。在整體而言,香港殯儀業的生意都下跌,最大的原因還是香港的經濟轉差,現在是我們的旺季,但今天只得幾個客,如何賺錢?如果你問我的話,這一行肯定是夕陽工業,現在有人寧願「遠出」(即是所有白事一次過在醫院內完成)都不到靈堂過夜。

In Louis’s observation, the traditional funeral ceremony has gradually faded. It is because the economic environment is bad, the public would prefer everything to be simple. There are many older generations who care about customs and traditions, but the younger generation regard it as a heavy burden. Therefore, the younger generation in dealing with funerals, they are not willing to spend money, even though the government provides $ 15,000 to families in need.

在Louis的觀察中,傳統的喪禮儀式已逐漸消逝。因為經濟環境轉差,大眾寧願一切從簡,有很多老一輩所堅持的習俗用品,在年輕一輩看起來只是沈重的負擔。故此,年輕的一輩在處理白事時,是有錢都不捨得花。即使政府對有需要的家庭提供一萬五千元補貼,他們寧願把錢儲起來都不想花在儀式上。

As he has been engaged in this industry for a long time, and everyday he sees life and death, Louis said that he is used to facing life and death. He said, “I have a secondary school classmate who died a few years ago because of illness. I didn’t know but I’d been seeing too many sad scenes and busy with work, I didn’t realise I had become so numb to these things. Who doesn’t die?”

When asked about the most memorable experience, he said: “There is no unforgettable thing, but one incident is more memorable. At that time I had to send flowers to the morgue, and because the deceased had cracked her/his skull because of a fall, I had to mentally prepare before I entered. Luckily because of my preparation I didn’t have any special feelings about that. I also often nap in the funeral home. (laughs)”

從事這行業已久,每天都接觸生離死別,Louis表示早已習慣。他說,我有一位中學同學於數年前因病離開了大家,當時以為自己會份外傷感,誰不知因為實在看得太多這些哀傷場面,而且又忙於工作,才意識到自己對這些事情已經麻目了,誰不會死?當問到最難忘的經歷時,他又說:「實在沒有什麼難忘的事,假如比較有印象的,可能是有一次要送花到屍房,那個大體因跳樓而導致頭骨爆裂。不過我又沒有什麼特別感覺,因為當初入行已經有心理準備!而且,我經常在殯儀館午睡,哈哈哈哈!」

Louis also noted that Hong Kong has many forms of schools, that you can study the funeral industry. He said, “Those students are studying the ceremonies professionally, but I don’t think this is useful for them or the industry. It is because no one trusts a student who graduated from a funeral school. In our industry, we only talk about the trust between us and the client. If the client doesn’t believe you, then everything is over. In our industry you can’t just study from books, you have to participate in the real events. Those students, they don’t know a lot of things, especially the ways of the world.”

Louis又提到,留意到最近香港有許多形形式式的學校,現在連殯儀業都可以唸。他說:「那些學生讀的是禮儀師,行內稱呼那些人為「行街」,但無用啊!將心比己,你會否將先人的身後事交予一個學生?我們這行講求的只是一個“信”字,客人不信,任你再大本事都沒用。而且,他們從來只是紙上談兵,沒有實戰經驗,有好多事情不會知道,特別是人情世故。」

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(A coffin used to furnish. In chinese Feng Shui, means promotion of wealth)

Know more about the funeral industry:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_QY28oTTOo

 

 

Nicolas

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