At Legacy.com, our content screeners are our backbone. Without them, our daily operations would grind to a halt: we wouldn’t post any obituaries or review any Guest Book entries. Since they’re such an important part of our business, we wanted to give our readers a chance to get to know a few of them. We interviewed three content screeners about their jobs, and we’re sharing their thoughts with you today.
How long have you worked at Legacy.com?
Meegan M.: I started at Legacy.com just before my first baby was born. I’ve been here for almost five and a half years – and my baby is now a busy preschooler.
Olivia C.: I have worked for Legacy two years and three months.
Ann Z.: March 6, 2011 will be four months.
What are your memories of your first week or two on the job? What was it like? How did you feel about Guest Book screening?
Ann: That first time that I logged into the Guest Book Reviewer (where the actual entries are located) and the very first entry showed up on my screen, I was a little overwhelmed. It hit me that this was very real and I was the first person to be looking at someone’s actual grief. It was very intimate. It was very solemn. It was a lot of responsibility. Even though all that I had to officially do was make sure that the entry was appropriate, the unofficial side was sitting with someone’s actual loss.
Olivia: I remember during training thinking “is this how the messages are really going to be?” Once I went live, I realized that yes, they were exactly like in training. I wasn’t afraid about making a mistake; on the contrary, I was so excited. I didn’t feel sad or get depressed, instead, I felt elated because so many of the messages were so touching, so moving. I would read a message from a mom to a child and think: there was so much love between them that not even death has come between that love. Then I would read a message from a student to their teacher of decades before, and I would think, wow, after decades of life, this person still remembers and respects their teacher. That is amazing and it makes me want to be a better person so that someone can remember me that way one day.
How has that changed in the months/years since?
Ann: It still has a solemnity to it but that is tempered by a lot of things. You have to cover a lot of ground so you can’t actually sit for long with an entry. Sometimes the entries are funny. People often share stories or anecdotes about their relationship with the deceased that are humorous. Sometimes the entries are just lovely. In the midst of so much grief, you sometimes see the best of people’s humanity shine through. In the midst of these sad stories and remembrances, truly beautiful stories can unfold showing how great people can truly be to each other. Those are stories that you seldom hear in day-to-day life, since the news is normally filled with so much crisis and conflict.
Meegan: I think that in the months and years since I started, I find myself feeling more emotional about the entries. We are all human and we’re all in this life together. Reading so many entries that are very similar reminds me that even though we all live our own lives, we all impact each other in so many ways and have many of the same experiences.
What’s your favorite thing about working for Legacy.com?
Olivia: My favorite thing is the schedule. I enjoy being able to work from home and have the opportunity to drop my girls off at school, hand off my baby to the babysitter, and get comfortable in the quiet of my own home. I really like the respect from my co-workers as well. I have always been treated with respect, even though I have never met some of them in person. I consider it a huge privilege to work for Legacy.com.
Meegan: Deciding on one “favorite” thing about working at Legacy.com was tough, so I have two favorites. First, who doesn’t want a job where they work in the comfort of their own home? I love that. My second favorite thing about working for Legacy.com is the entries. Many are basic condolences, but some are so touching and comforting that I try to remember the wording so I might borrow their wording in the future. Some of the entries are so funny that I find myself laughing out loud – sometimes even with tears in my eyes they are so funny. Some of the entries are so witty and well written, I almost feel like I was there. Many entries contain fond memories of growing up with the deceased and those always send me back to my childhood and the kids on my block. Reading entries is like living life through the eyes of others and it’s always interesting.
What has surprised you about the job?
Meegan: How much I still enjoy it. I’ve always enjoyed it, but after 5 years I still look forward to my shifts and I’ve never felt that about previous jobs. Every day brings new entries and new challenges. I’m also a bit surprised by how much the entries still touch me. When your job is to read guest book condolences, you have to be able to separate yourself a little bit, otherwise it could get too emotionally draining. But there are so many times that I find myself sitting here in front of my computer, reading entries with tears streaming down my face.
Ann: I think the biggest surprise has been seeing what people consistently value in and remember about other people. Humor seems to be one of the most frequently mentioned qualities. “He always made me laugh.” Or “She was so much fun to work with because she kept us in stitches.” Kindness is very high on the list, often in combination with humor. As far as professions go, teachers seem to get the most consistent love, thanks and admiration. It is amazing to read someone wax poetic about, for instance, their kindergarten or first grade teacher. They share vivid memories and then say that they were in the teacher’s class in 1962! If a teacher touches a student’s life in a positive way, no amount of time can take away that positive impression.
If you could tell a brand-new Guest Book content screener one thing before they start working here, what would it be?
Olivia: Don’t get too used to and comfortable about reading messages. There is always that slight chance that you will make a mistake, so always, always, keep focused.
Ann: Find your sense of humor. Laughter is always the best medicine, always. When you’re reading through an unnaturally concentrated amount of grief for several hours at a time, you HAVE to find ways to break the sadness with occasional laughter.