At some point, I probably would have lost it and said "Ma'am"...waited for silence and then proceeded very slowly..."She is dead. She died. She is no longer alive. She. Is. Dead."I'd be tempted to respond, "Well, I believe she's still in CrestView cemetary, plot #1234. You could try her there."
She wouldn't voom if you put four million volts through her. She's bleeding demised. Bereft of life! She rests in peace!
She is no more. She has ceased to be. She has run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. She is an EX-EMPLOYEE!
No, no she's resting.
I guess I'd better get a replacement, then! Sorry, we've run all out of ex-employees. I've got a slug!
This reminded me of what happened at my first job. I worked for a small mail-order company run by a woman named "Jane." Jane passed away suddenly while away on business, and it was during this time, a coworker and I had the following customer exchange (I was training):
Coworker: "Company Name, may I take your order?" (coworker was on the order line.)
Customer: "I want to talk to Jane." (We had been told not to reveal Jane's death, BTW.)
Coworker: "I'm sorry, Jane is unavailable. This is the order line - do you want to place an order?"
Customer: "No I want to talk to Jane. Could you tell her this is (name)?"
Coworker: "I'm sorry sir, as I've said before, Jane is unavailable. May I take a message for our manager and have her return your call?"
Customer: "I want to speak to Jane, NOW! Don't give me that crap, I know she's there."
Coworker: "Sir, Jane is not on site. Please call our manager at the main number, which is..."
Customer: "I don't want your manager, I want to speak to Jane." He adds a few (bleeps).
Coworker: (Turning red) "Jane is deceased."
Customer: "Can I leave a message for her, then?"