Working for a large funeral corporation could mean, one funeral home picks up a body, drops the body off at another funeral home, the body gets embalmed there, then taken to the correct funeral home for the makeup and visitation. You know, who ever is closest and available. That’s how it works.
So, being in the prep department, the only department with the 3-midnight shifts, and I am currently on the 3-midnight shift, I am hurrying to finish embalming someone to get them to the correct funeral home before my shift is up. When the 8-5 shift left they said,”Just a few to embalm, but this one needs to be brought to XYZ funeral home before midnight.” Sure! No problem! Especially when there are 3 people on the same shift. One dead person each, clean up well, extended dinner = great evening at work. No, we kept getting calls for removals, so the guys I worked with kept going on the calls while I embalmed, one being a very difficult case, but that’s not what this is about! The fact is, time disappeared and so did the guys…again! Well, they had to. Originally, they were going to take the dead guy that needed to go to another funeral home for me, but they had another call to go on far away in the opposite direction. This meant, me and only me would take this dead guy to the funeral home he needed to be at. I left at a quarter to midnight. It took everything I had, being so tired, to get him strapped on to the gurney and into the van. Did I mention this guy was just shy of 400 pounds?!
I get to the funeral home he needs to be at right at midnight. I back up to the garage and go to the side door, use my huge ring of keys(keys to all the funeral homes we service) to get in and try to remember the right code. Thank goodness it worked because I forgot my notebook with all the codes, cheats, etc. in it. I hit the garage door button, get back in the van and back it in. I can’t back in all the way since I still need room to pull the guy out, but with the back doors of the van wide open, the visual is pretty shielded. There are no available tables open to put him on(they have 2 and they are occupied) and no available gurney either. So, I’ll just have to pull him out and leave him on our gurney and just make sure someone will pick it up tomorrow.
Now, almost 400 lbs. Not a good idea for me to be doing this. Deep breath.
Let me explain how the gurney works first. The kind I am currently using has two handles under the main bar you hold on to. One on the right and one on the left. As you pull them, they will disengage the legs of the gurney. The right handle allows you to collapse the two legs furthest from you and the left handle, the ones closest to you. At least I had the right gurney (for big people), but it was old. Most of our cots/gurneys have only one handle that collapses both sets of legs at the same time while you are putting someone in. That would be awful with a heavy person! I won’t go into the functionality of these things and bore you, but there are more to them that help in accommodating various circumstances.
Alright, taking the deep breath. First legs down(most difficult)…second legs down! Yes! Just have to role him up a simple ramp into the embalming room. I turn the cot toward the ramp and BOOM! The end closest to me hits the floor hard! At first I thought the mechanism that locks the wheels out failed and even if I could lift that end back up, it could just do it again. All of the sudden, my hand was covered in blood. I grabbed some paper towels and went back to look. Part of the cot broke where it was originally soldered and must have hit the handle. I saw a little piece of my skin between the part that became unsoldered and the bar. Good God! Damn this rickety piece of crap!!
Here I am in a garage of a funeral home, after midnight now, with a dead guy on a horrible angle on this broken ass cot with my hand bleeding. I call the guys to see where they are. They’re still far away with their own problems, but tell me one of the funeral directors lives above the garage and to wake her up for help. She doesn’t do any physical things at work, just funeral arrangements. This could be a problem.
I call her because she can’t hear the bottom door to the apartment. She was awake but she was 2 sheets to the wind. Great. She made it down in her bath robe with toddy in hand – Awesome cuz I surely didn’t need two dead people on the floor. She saw my hand and said, “Jeez girl. Wish I had something for that.” I said, “You do! Have some more alcohol?” She’s like, “You’re still working.” I told her I didn’t want to consume it, I wanted it poured over my hand. She thought I was crazy. I said to her, “You’re the one drinking on the job now and I want to kill some microbes…and I’m crazy? Please put that drink down and lets see if we can lift this end up and roll him into the prep room.”
Believe it or not, we managed. Drunk woman and wounded woman got it done. We lowered the other end when in the prep room so the blood wouldn’t rush to his head and permanently discolor it and so nothing else would fall out of his head then left him for the funeral directors the next day to deal with…and a nice warning note. Don’t feel bad for them. They have a mechanical lift to use once they have an available table to put him on.
I’m heading back for first aid, to clock out and get my own damn toddy!