On the entrance of the chapel foyer, look first to the left: 4 our bodies underneath white sheets on hardware-store-style metallic cabinets initially designed to carry one thing apart from human lives. Subsequent to these 4 have been one other 4, and extra within the center, and extra to the correct. The 31 our bodies on the cabinets rested on plywood and cardboard beds, their heads on Styrofoam block pillows. The racks have been so tall in a single nook that the finial of an ornate chandelier cleared it by inches.
Our bodies in coffins have been rolled out. Our bodies on stretchers have been rolled in. Their uniformity was disrupted by the smallest particulars: a tuft of a girl’s lengthy black hair spilling out of the highest of her sheets, a proper foot.
“We don’t understand how the general public will see it, but it surely was vital,” Ms. Maldonado stated of the chapel’s conversion. “The necessity introduced us to improvise. We’re in America, so we suppose that we’re ready for all the pieces. However on this emergency that we had, we weren’t.”
The Employees’ Burden
The trailer was cool and unusually empty. Eleven our bodies have been lined up on the correct and 7 on the left, all in cardboard containers. The names have been written in black marker on the flaps of the lids. The tallest stacks have been 4 excessive, every field separated by a strip of plywood.
Victor Hernandez helped push a brand new one in, the nineteenth physique. He was one of many latest staff of Continental Funeral Dwelling.
Mr. Hernandez, 23, had been a chef at a sushi restaurant however misplaced his job throughout the state’s shutdown. Out of labor for months, he went to the 7-Eleven throughout the road from the funeral residence someday and noticed the signal that Ms. Maldonado had posted on the nook: “Now Hiring!”
He began just a few weeks in the past, making $15 an hour, plus additional time. The co-worker who helped him push the stretcher down the center of the trailer, Daniel Murillo, 23, was additionally employed lately. He used to work at McDonald’s.
“I’m not going to lie: The primary day I had nightmares,” Mr. Hernandez stated. “It makes me respect life much more now. I see my mother and father, my sisters — I see them in a different way than I did earlier than. I’ve bought to cherish them.”