Today I have the honor of interviewing Death's right hand--the Grim Reaper*. I first discovered the Grim Reaper on Twitter, and after checking him out there I ventured over to his blog. Please be forewarned that no mints will be served today on CMAW. If you enjoy "black humor" or "morgue humor", or if you're a fan of the hit TV show Reaper on CW, you'll enjoy this killer interview. ~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Cheryl Kaye Tardif: Welcome, Grim, to Criminal Minds at Work. Can you tell us how you got the job as the Grim Reaper? What inspired you?
Grim Reaper: When I was a boy, I took one of those "career aptitude" tests in school. The results said that I was well suited for a career as "Death.” Both my mother and school guidance counselor were shocked. In fact, I vividly recall the counselor telling mother that prior to the result, she wasn't aware that "Death had even been an option.”
It all made sense though. I was different from the other kids, and everyone knew it. For example, while all of my childhood friends loved the children's book "Goodnight Moon," my favorite at bedtime was an obscure little book entitled "Goodnight Forever.”
Also, when I used to play with other children, and they wanted to play "doctor," I always asked if I could be "Death.” It was a constant uphill fight to convince them that "Death" was very much an implicit part of every game of "doctor," whether we wanted to admit it or not.
When I got older, someone gave me a copy of Sven Norvak's "As A Reaper Reapeth" and it brought me to tears. I became very idealistic. I told myself that if I could "kill just one person" then it would all be worthwhile.
CKT: Was there any special training you had to take? Can just anyone become a reaper?
GR: Scythemore University and Reaper State, both accredited Afterlife universities, offer wonderful programs and apprenticeships. If you're not sure if you're ready to take such drastic steps, I recommend both Reaper Cy Longhorn's "100 Essential and Existential Careers in Killing" and Myron Glick's "Death for Dummies" as excellent introductory reading.
If you decide that you are indeed interested in becoming a Reaper, we definitely need fresh minds as well as enthusiastic, competent, and hard working people. A recent editorial in the "Afterlife Gazette" highlighted the growing problem of "killliteracy" among our young Reapers. You'd be shocked to learn that one out of seven Reapers who graduated Scythmore last year, could not even kill the person who handed them their diploma. That's a shocking statistic, and perhaps it partially reflects the fact that the system may not be fully working.
CKT: What exactly does your job entail?
GR: There are different aspects of my job, and I would divide them up into two basic categories:
The first category is what fits into my official job description. Technically, all that I'm required to do is identify myself, throw you over my back, and escort you to the afterlife. It's also customary to offer "first class" souls mints or gum, along with a magazine to read.
But a dedicated Reaper will go above and beyond the bare minimum. I like to think that once I kill you, it shouldn't be the end of our relationship, but just the beginning. I like to help souls set up their places in the Afterlife (I am certified in "Feng Shui") and I want to keep in regular touch afterwards. I've had souls tell me that I'm a mother, best friend, therapist, and interior decorator all in one. If you're having trouble adjusting to Heaven, I want you to call me on the phone to vent about it.
I also hope that after I kill you, I will also go on to someday kill the rest of your family. The Universe has a system called "grandfathering," which means you are allowed to request a Reaper when a love one is scheduled to die, and you have "first dibs" on the Reaper who has already killed you. I'm proud to say that I've had ongoing relationships with families for centuries, where I've killed their kids, their grandkids, etc. There's no way of explaining the feeling you get after you kill someone and they say something like, "when my daughter dies, you're the only one I want killing her.” True story... I once had an old lady who felt I was so much a part of her family that she actually wanted to put me in her will. It was touching.
CKT: Do you escort just anyone? Who takes the really bad people?
GR: I take people to both Heaven and Hell. I'd say it's always been about fifty-fifty.
Some Reapers do specialize in taking souls to Hell, as Scythmore offers doctorates in something called "Hades Sciences.” Reaper Bob "the hood" Garland takes a lot of souls to Hell. He's quite good at it. Bob used to be the bouncer at "The Fiery Brimstone," has great heat tolerance, and takes no funny business from anyone.
CKT: I’ve seen you on Twitter. What are you hoping will be the results of sending out your tweets?
GR: Someone warned me there were lots of incidences of people showing up on Twitter as "fake celebrities.” My worst fear was that a fake Death would pop up who was posing as me. I realized I needed to claim the territory quick.
As far as my hopes... I suppose I'd like people to see that my job is not always glamorous. I think people picture a lot of killing and signing Tarot cards for groupies (we call them Reapies). The sad truth is that I spend an awful lot of time just doing laundry.
CKT: You have a blog too. Do you think it’s necessary for reapers to have their own blogs? What do you use yours for?
GR: I think that if you're going to kill people today, it's important to have an online presence. I realize that it's not for everyone though. I like to think what I do is interactive; it's not just about me. The blog is my chance to give something back. For example, souls who I kill get very excited when I mention them on my blog. It's my way of giving a "thank you" to them. It's so important to acknowledge them, because they're such a valuable part of the whole killing process.
CKT: Do you ever get emails asking if you’ll take referrals? If so, how’s that worked out for you?
GR: Sometimes I get e-mails, but more often people actually approach me in person. Since I've moved to Manhattan on a part time basis, I have people pester me all the time with requests like, "can you kill my noisy neighbor?" or "can you do me a favor and kill my mother-in-law?” I've recently stopped going to parties because of it. It's very similar to approaching a doctor in a social situation and asking for free medical advice. It's inappropriate.
Just for clarification, I am not allowed to kill people on "request.” If I was allowed to do so, we would have chaos and a lack of structure in the Universe. Each person who is put on my list to kill, first undergoes a long and rigorous screening process by both God and the Reapublic.
CKT: What are the “tools” of your trade? And where do you get them from?
GR: The scythe is the most fundamental "tool" for any Reaper. The flagship "Scthythemart " in Heaven is my favorite place to get one,. It has a great selection that's constantly replenished with the newest models. They have wonderful sales, and run surprise blue scythe specials every so often.
If you're looking to buy a scythe, I encourage people to buy and not lease. You also want to have several scythes, as some are more appropriate for dinner parties, bar mitzvahs, etc. If you show up to kill someone at a black tie affair for example, you really need to be carrying a formal looking scythe. You don't want to embarrass yourself or the Universe that you represent.
As for used scythes, they could be an option for some, but know what you're getting into. If you're considering one, make sure you walk around with it first, see how it feels. It's also important to know the right questions to ask like: how many kills does it have on it? Is there a refund policy? Was it made in China?
CKT: What do you dress up as on Halloween?
GR: It's different every year. Last year I dressed up as the mythic "Corpse Freddy Connor," who is every Reaper's worst nightmare. Corpse Connor hunts down and tortures all the Reapers who have killed his friends and family members. The year before I was "Ross Perot.”
CKT: Can you walk us through a near-death experience and tell us what REALLY happens?
GR: Sure -- good question. Sometimes, for reasons only he knows, God will issue a last minute "stay of execution" and we will have to pull somebody back. People tend to remember being taken through the "Remus Longhorn Memorial Tunnel" to Heaven, and they also tend to remember having their lives flash before them. For some reason, they universally seem to block out what happens before all of it, which basically amounts to somebody with a scythe and black hood showing up and offering them a mint. Perhaps the initial part is traumatic for them.
The phrase "near Death experience" has also become a euphemism that many of my ex-girlfriends have adopted to refer to other stuff. I'm assuming that you were asking the more "G" rated question though...
CKT: What are your goals? Any aspirations to be a published author? Are you writing your memoirs? Do you think Oprah will ever have you on her show?
GR: I am actively seeking a literary agent for my memoirs, and I have a number of really exciting book ideas on top of it. I finished a short novella a few years ago called "Elliana's Choice" which involves a woman caught between two handsome reapers who both want to kill her. It's a bit chick-littish, but I think the wartime setting gives it cross-gender appeal.
I'd love to do talk shows and the interview circuit, but to be honest, I haven't really gotten the offers yet. Oprah would be a dream come true. I've killed so many of her fans over the years, and it would be amazing to meet her in person.
CKT: I’m sure many readers would like to know more about the reaper behind the cloak and hood. What are your hobbies? What do you do for fun?
GR: Just recently, someone taught me to crochet robes, and so far I''m loving it. I love listening to Julio Iglesias, and also I collect civil war era scythes. Believe it or not, I love to dance, and I've been told that I'm pretty good at it. Some fellas I met at a club in Manhattan nicknamed me "the boogie man.” I'd love to be on that "Dancing with the Stars" show...
CKT: What’s your Twitter URL?
CKT: And where can we find your blog?
GR: http://death-sentences.blogspot.com - as featured on THE NEW YORK TIMES web site: "BEST COMEDY ON THE WEB"
Thank you, Grim, for educating us about what you do. It's great to see that even the Grim Reaper can be found on the Internet using social networks and promoting himself. You're a true "shameless promoter". One final question...do you really reap what you sow? ;-)
*Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment purposes, obviously for those who don't mind dark humor. It's not our intention to offend anyone, but if we did, we apologize. Sometimes it's healthy to laugh at uncomfortable topics like death, and I'll admit to a few chuckles when reading Grim's replies. Now I'm off to buy "Death for Dummies" on Damazon. I think it'll be great for researching my fictitious killers. ;-) ~CKT