Herbert was relaxing in the layover lounge (aka The Between Assignments Cubicle) and pondering the possibilities for his next assignment. He was a bit nervous as to what the future held for him. During his career as heavenly assistant he had worn many hats. Some had looked good on him and some had put him on Mr. Blackwell’s list.
He had been thinking about his very first task. It began as building hills but he was elevated* to head mountain builder. It seemed like yesterday but in heaven there really was no concept of time. His revery was interrupted by Solomon, no not that Solomon.
The truth was this Solomon was at the end of the line when the bucket of brains had run out. Rumor has it that tomato soup was substituted. Too bad a grilled cheese sandwich didn’t come with it.
“Time for your next assignment Herb,” announced Solomon.
“Could you call me Herbert? Only the big guy calls me Herb,” said Herbert.
“You mean God?”, asked Solomon.
“Yes of course. Is there another big guy?”
“Well no, but no one calls him big guy.”
“Oh, you don’t say. He doesn’t seem to mind.”
“Never mind that. You have your new assignment. It is only temporary though. You are vacation relief for Peter. “
“The heavenly gates Peter?”
“Yes of course. Is there any other?”
“Well there has to be. He can’t be the only Peter in heaven can he?”
“Probably not but lets not get exi, existen, uh deep. You are pulling relief duty at the heavenly gates”
“So Peter is taking a vacation?”
“Yep. He hasn’t had one since disco was popular.”
“Oh really. Did he have anything to do with that?”
“No and if he had any say it wouldn’t have ever happened. Don’t bring up leisure suits either. It will really get him started.”
“Um, Ok. So where does one go when you take a vacation from Heaven?”
“Colorado of course.”
“Makes sense, I did my best work there.”
“Here we are.”
“St. Peter this is Herbert”
“Nice to meet you Herbert. I’ll take it from here Solomon.”
“Right. Good luck Herbert”
“Ok Herbert. The job is pretty simple really. Here is the master list for today,” said Peter handing him a clipboard.
“A clipboard really? I was expecting something cooler.”
“This is heaven we don’t throw away what works. Pay attention Herbert.
Everyone on the list gets in. You will get a new list each day.”
“Everyone on the list gets in?”
“Yes of course. You were expecting that only the cool people got in ?
This isn’t a trendy New York nightclub.”
“I was looking forward to some judging.”
“Sorry to disappoint you but that has already take place.”
“Bummer. Must be depressing for you.”
“Not at all. Too much responsibility comes with that whole judging thing. So
back to the training part if you don’t mind. The enrollees will show up
periodically during your shift. You will ask them their name and check it
against the list.”
“What’s the point of a list if they all get in,” asked Herbert.
“Because from time to time there will be an error in routing.”
“Oh, kind of like an airline losing your luggage.”
“No, it’s nothing like that. So, are you always a smart ass?”
“Yea, it’s kind of my thing.”
“Oh, ok. Well try to tone it down a bit. These folks have just departed
their corporeal existence and may not appreciate your brand of
“Sorry, I’ll work on it. What happens if they are not on the list?”
“You apologize profusely for the mixup and you ring this bell. Someone will
respond immediately to take them to their final destination.”
“You’re right, it’s nothing like an airline losing your luggage.”
“If they are on the list you give them this pamphlet,” said Peter handing
him a sheet of parchment.
“It still works.”
“Oh, yea,” replied Herbert as he read the pamphlet.”
So Your Dead. Now What?
“Thanks. I came up with that myself.”
“Keep your day job.”
“Well. You give them a chance to read the pamphlet and then answer any
questions they may have.”
“I’m not sure I can answer any questions they have. “
“Don’t worry. As I said they are kind of numb when they get here and do not
tend to ask too many questions. Most of their questions will crop up at the
next weigh station. Those folks will handle it. Besides, I will be with
you the entire day and by the end you’ll be a pro. Don’t worry.”
“Ok, lets get to greeting.”
“You know. It’s kind of like being a Walmart greeter.”
“No, no it’s not. What did I tell you?”
“Knock off the smart-assery?”
The story continues.