Before I tell this story, I want to give my thanks to all of you who are supporting this project. I have been working on this for years. I have written stories that have been sitting in a folder on my desktop and hand-written stories in notepads, even stories and poetry written on a word processor from so many years ago. I have truly dreamed of making this project come true for years, not having the confidence that I was a good enough writer. Family, friends, coworkers and all of those in between have quieted the doubts I have had of myself and now I feel that I can finally share what is in my head.
I was given the task of picking up a man at the medical examiner’s office and transporting him to one of our other locations. We were really busy and I only had access to one of our older cots. As I backed the hearse into the garage to load the cot, my coworker was waiting for me. He opened the back door and loaded the cot for me so I could get on the road quickly. I got to the medical examiner’s office, got out of the car and rang the bell and waited. Soon a worker came out and just being friendly he got the cot out for me and we walked inside. After transferring the man onto my cot, he walked out with me and courteously loaded the cot into my hearse. Once I got to the funeral home, I backed in near the embalming room door and proceeded to pull the cot out. The way I was used to a cot working is, you hold a lever to release the wheels as you pull the cot out of the vehicle and let go of the lever before the other end is completely out of the vehicle to lock them once again, as the second set of wheels unfold, they would automatically lock and then you can roll on. I did just that, pulled the lever while I pulled the cot, locked the wheels and continued pulling until the cot came out on the second set of wheels. Before I knew it, bam! the other half of the cot was on the ground. Shocked, I waited, looked around, thought about it. What just happened? So, I did what anyone would do, I went to the side of the cot on the ground and pulled it up but the wheels stayed folded. I tried again with all my might and the wheels stayed folded. Then I decided to try and get the cot back into the hearse, I pulled the cot up and unsuccessfully tried to get the cot onto the lip of the bumper. To give you a visual, this was in Georgia, in the summer, in the middle of the day. I was wearing a thick Fraternity polo shirt, long khaki pants and a hat (bad hair, casual day). So, already hot and sweaty, I called the funeral home to avoid walking inside and risk families seeing me casual, sweaty and disheveled. I was greeted by the answering service. No one was there. No one could help me.
At this point I am still trying to prove my worth and that I could handle situations just like this, so, I thought this through and decided I would put the entire cot on the ground and drag the whole thing into the embalming room. Just imagine this small girl, red faced and sweaty, dragging a cot on the concrete one inch at a time, literally, one inch at a time. As I got to the threshold of the door and wrenched the first set of wheels over the doorway and onto the tile of the embalming room I felt like I was being watched so I looked up. Hunched, drenched and straining and to my horror, there were my coworkers, two in a hearse and two in a van, just coming back from a funeral service. They had stopped to watch the girl dragging the cot into the embalming room…. laughing hysterically of course. These men were laughing so hard that getting out of their vehicles to assess and figure out what I was doing was entertainment in itself. It was like watching a bunch of drunkards trying to get their footing and falling all over each other. After some discussion through their tears, the men told me that the cot I was using had two levers on the foot end (the end you push with) and another lever on the head end (the end that goes in the vehicle first) and was called a two-man cot. The reasoning here is if you are by yourself you use the two levers at the foot end at the same time and if there are two of you, the other end had its own lever, and I just wrenched this poor man out of the hearse without pulling the second lever! And I didn’t even notice that the second set of wheels never unfolded. So, lesson learned, always know your equipment before using it. With the help of my coworkers, we got the cot up on all four wheels and the man was rolled normally into the embalming room. Hopefully this man wasn’t too mad at me, however, I did apologize to him profusely for my lack of knowledge on the workings of a two-man cot.