In my beginning years as a funeral director apprentice, I faced many challenges with being a small female. I had to prove that I could handle every job that was required for the task at hand. This included moving the deceased, big and small, from all types of places. One of the first times I went on a house call (when we are receiving a deceased from their house), the person was fairly large and in a mobile home. This meant tight hallways, small doorways and almost always stairs. He was located in the very back bedroom of the home. The hallway was a straight shot but the medical cot was not able to make the turn into the bedroom itself. This meant the man had to be carried into the hallway and the director in charge had never worked with me before. He went into the house and assessed the situation, he came back out and told me that we had to call in for back up. Before I let him do that I asked to go inside and see for myself if I could handle the task at hand, he agreed. The man was bigger, the hallway narrow and uncompromising, yet, I felt that I had to do this. We have a device called a flexible cot, a flexible material with sturdy handles to carry a body through the turns and twists of narrow places. I was young and new and ambitious and convinced the funeral director that I could handle this task. We took the gurney as far as we could down the hallway, then we took the flexible cot into the room where this man was. Carefully we rolled the man from one side to the other to maneuver him onto the flexible cot and arrange him so that we could also hold the handles firmly as we walked. Once we had transferred his body onto the flexible cot, it was a full on lift straight from the floor and walk into the hallway. This required some turning of his legs and trying to sidle him through the narrow doorway and allow the director and me to squeeze through as well. This was only the first hurdle. Next, we had to get the gurney out of the hallway and over the railing of the porch and then down a flight of about 6-7 stairs. There is no easy way to do this. It is a literal lift and strain as high as you can reach while moving in compromising positions kind of task. Every thirty seconds the director asked how I was doing. I am sure he expected me to give up at any minute and not be able to complete this with out getting help. To his surprise and mine a little too, we got the cot into the hearse and said goodbye to the family. The second we started driving away, he looked at me and said, “You are strong.” I said thank you, “No, you are really strong.” He repeated, “From now on you have the nickname of Brick House, just like the song.” And there it was, my nick name, Brick House! I laugh every time I hear that song now. Remembering the night that I got it.
If you are unfamiliar with the song, I have included a youtube video. I am sure I am not the person the commodores were thinking when they wrote the song but it works for me.