SINGAPORE - A man recently complimented Ms Jenny Tay on her good looks and told her his uncle must have been chuffed that she handled his affairs.
Nothing unusual in that, except that the man's uncle was dead and the affairs he referred to were the funeral arrangements.
Ms Tay, 27, defies expectations of what a funeral director should be. Confident and immaculately groomed, she is 1.75m tall, has legs like those of a gazelle, speaks well and comes armed with a business and marketing degree from the University of New South Wales.
She is poised to take over Direct Singapore Funeral Services from her father, Mr Roland Tay, a colourful undertaker who makes headlines regularly for arranging free funerals for murder victims, as well as the poor and destitute. The company has two outlets, employs a dozen staff and handles about 50 funerals a month.
Ms Tay has been in the trade for just six weeks. Prior to that, she spent four years in event management and advertising. Her last job was as a senior account executive in a Japanese advertising firm handling accounts such as Daikin air-conditioners and Yakult probiotic drinks.
"I had expressed interest in joining the business since I was 18 but my father told me to finish my studies and gain some work experience first," said the elder of two daughters of Mr Tay and his second wife.
The 66-year-old undertaker - who separated recently from his third wife - has two other children with his first wife.
On the day Ms Tay reported for work, the first thing she did was to head for the embalming room.
"My colleagues went, 'No, no, no, don't go in.' They were concerned and worried about me because it was a coroner's case."
She told them she was fine.