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You be dead..
I'm feeling quite guilty right now. I was looking into how many of our customers die each month, because we're looking at stepping up our recruitment of younger customers. Generally we have quite an old customer base that we've been a bit slack on replenishing, so as time goes on this becomes more of a problem. Certainly working in Internet Banking, one finds that there is a large group of customers who are simply too old to want to use it.

So I was looking at the volume of customers who are marked as deceased each month, to get some idea about how our customer base is diminishing with the passage of time. It's an established fact that mortality among the elderly is much higher during the winter months due to weather conditions, and presumably the general gloom of it all. It does however occur that making flippant remarks like "freezing to death" is a sign that one has become desensitised to certain things (and to be honest, people around the office are even worse than I am). It's all too easy to forget that a deceased flag on an account means that somebody actually died. Hence the guilt..

I feel bad enough when I work on credit card accounts where the people are hopelessly in debt, and are probably going through hell as a result. In such cases support is only given if requested, or if required. I remember all too well what it was like to have debts that I couldn't even remotely pay off, but was happily able to 'manage', in the sense of making sure that none of them quite caught up with me. It's not a nice place to be, and seeing dozens of customers in the same position (or worse) leaves me feeling quite 'bummed out', as they say.

But it's when you're looking at a seemingly innocuous spreadsheet, counting up how many people show up in a list of the winter months, and realise that you're looking at the actual deaths of thousands of actual people..

I've been feeling slightly.. I don't know, "morbid" isn't really the right word, it sort of implies a celebration of death.. Still, death has been on my mind lately, and it's an unpleasant feeling. Not that I'm concerned about my own mortality - I'm at peace with my God, happy in my life, and so I don't let it worry me. But the mortality of those around me I seem to be ever so aware of lately.

I suspect it stems from my grandfather's 90th birthday. Not that I suspect he's got any plans to die in the near future (touch wood), since he seems no less fit than he was decades ago, if not moreso. But while I was there, I had a somewhat unpleasant dream, on which I blame my recent state of mind.

In a nutshell (because nobody likes hearing about other people's dreams), it started off with a call from Naomi. I was half asleep in the dream, so I couldn't really work out what she was on about, she was saying goodbye or something, and I sort of dismissed it. I later found out that she'd been hit by a car and had died, and that her call to me was the last thing she did as she was lying by the roadside. Suddenly there are all these feelings of regret, at not telling her how much I love her, at effectively wasting her last minute alive, and just a general feeling that I let her down, and would never be able to make it up to her.

The dream progressed quite horribly really, with me having to actually deal with the days that followed. I think at one point I even decided that it couldn't be a dream, because otherwise I'd have woken up. Now that I think about it, it was actually set in my dream-version of Brighton, certain settings had been re-used from previous dreams. That sort of familiarity just makes it all the more plausible.

In any case, the dream was generally awful, then I woke up sobbing, which is possibly the first time I've done that since I was a small child. It's just lucky Naomi was there really - if for some reason one of us had been away, that would have made things a whole lot worse.

And yes, ever since then, I've been more concerned than usual about the possibility of people close to me dying. Looking at several hundred thousand bank accounts of people who've done just that doesn't really help..

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I used to lay out obituaries in the newspaper and would feel guilty like that. To us it was pretty much just stuff to fill up space. So, if we stopped to think about what it really was, it was very sad.

Exactly.. From one perspective, it's this really cold thing that's just part of the job, but if you actually look closer, it's this massive tragedy, where 200,000 people died, most of them probably leaving people behind..

And on a completely different note, congratulations by the way, on the whole baby thing.. It's important that the educated among us at least try to out-breed the idiots.. :o)

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