China / Society

Man finds calling in crematory

By LUO WANGSHU (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-04 07:30

"I am a naturally brave man and always like to try something that others dare not do," said Cao Lianxing.

The 51-year-old from Changshu, Jiangsu province, has worked in a crematorium since 1997.

"I tried several jobs after retiring from the army, but none lasted. When I saw they were hiring cremators, I was a driver and felt bored. Why not have a try, I thought," Cao recalled.

Unexpectedly, it became Cao's life-long career.

Although prepared, Cao was "nearly scared to death" on the first day.

"Although it was a sunny day, when I walked in the crematorium, it felt so gloomy. It took some time for me to get used to it," he said.

But now Cao is very proud of his work and feels "in need".

"When I walk on the street, people greet me. I know a lot of people because of my job. When I do my job well, the family thanks me," Cao said.

Acquaintances have also asked him for help when they needed funeral services.

However, a social bias against this line of work exists. When he applied for the job, Cao was married with a 10-year-old son. "If I was not married, I would not have chosen this job," he said.

Cao was not even supported by his family at first.

"My wife said you have a job, why bother trying this," Cao recalled.

"First and most important, I have to respect my profession and never look down on myself," he said. Now Cao is supported by his family.

"My son loves me and he knows that his father loves his job. Now he can tell people loud and clear that his father is a cremator," he said.

Cao believes respect can be earned, and families will remember the good service, which is the result of years of practice.

"Cremation takes skill," Cao said.

His workplace, Changshu Crematory, employs 10 cremators and cremates about 10,000 bodies each year.

Cao is happy with his life, and has a 5-year-old granddaughter.

He is also satisfied with his salary, saying that the pay, more than 100,000 yuan ($15,300) each year is "above average in Changshu".

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