And So Begins My New Life

Join me as I embark on a new life and new career in Funeral Services.

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Location: Southeast, United States

I'm a Funeral Services graduate embarking on a new career. I graduated high school in 1981, served honorably in the United States Navy from 1982-1986, been married since 1986, and have one son. I've relocated to a new state and have begun working in my chosen profession of Funeral Services, and I've never been happier.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Our First Call Of September

It's been a very slow September. Today we got our first and second calls of the month. Both of them were direct cremations. I got to the hospital for the first call and the morgue attendant tells me I'm going to need a bigger cot and more men, because the body, in his words, "is at least 6 or 7 hundred pounds." He opens up the cooler and the body is in a body bag, but still in the hospital bed. This body was so massive they rolled the whole bed into the cooler rather than try to move the body onto a gurney! So I get on the phone and call my immediate supervisor and ask him how much weight the cot can take. I tell him what I'm up against and he assures me the cot can take it, what to look out for, how to secure the body in case the straps don't fit, and other useful information. So I tell the attendant the cot can take it. He kept asking me if I was sure, and saying things like "I don't think it can, this is a big one. " (The whole time we were getting ready to make the transfer, he kept making remarks to the effect that he didn't think the cot would hold the weight.) He asks if more men are coming. I tell him, "no, we don't have anyone to spare." {And even if we did, they were at least an hour away.} So he calls for some help and two or three guys show up. The whole time we're getting ready to transfer the body from the morgue onto my cot, all of these guys are asking me the same question in different ways: "Is this the only cot you have? Do you have a bigger cot? Will this cot hold up? Did you bring anything else?" And the whole time they're asking me these questions, the attendant keeps saying, "this is a big one...this is a big body. This weighs a lot. This is a big one..." Like I didn't hear him the first dozen times or something. With a little elbow grease and a lot of pulling, we finally slide the body onto the cot and everyone is asking me if that's it. I tell them I would appreciate it if someone could walk the cot out with me and guide the foot end. So the guy that volunteers asks me if I brought a hearse or a van or a truck or what. I tell him I have a van, and he says, "Does it have ramps?" By this time I've had it with their questions and doubts, so I say, "No, it doesn't. All we were told was we had a body down here and to come get it. They didn't tell us it was larger than normal; they gave us no indications at all that there would be anything out of the ordinary." So everyone finally stops with the thousand questions and we take the body out to the van and with a little muscle and some huffing and puffing we get it loaded. I went by the funeral home, where the supervisor joined me for the trip to the crematory. Once we got the body to the crematory, we, along with the crematory operator, were able to get the body onto a rolling cart and into the cooler. Our best estimate is the total weight was closer to 500 pounds. This is the heaviest body I've dealt with since I started working; the second closest was about 300 pounds. I'm just thankful we didn't have to get the body on a table, embalm and dress it and then casket it. That would have been a challenge and then some. Our second call came while we were returning from the crematory. It was a house call which my supervisor took because I had an errand to run for the owner and could not take this call myself.

On the way back from the crematory, we witnessed a five car smash up in the northbound lanes (we were southbound, on a divided highway). Two cars ended up on their sides, and three ended up with bashed fenders and quarter panels. I hope no one was seriously hurt. We saw that airbags deployed on one car that rolled; the other was facing the wrong way for us to be able to tell. I didn't actually see the crash; my supervisor said something and I looked up just in time to see the last car finish it's roll. Just a couple of traffic lights before that, we're sitting on the red when the car next to us just decides to go ahead and run the red! Like they said on "Hill Street Blues" be careful out there.

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