My new book, Satan Loves You, is all about the worst job in the world: managing Hell. To pimp it shamelessly, I’m running interviews with people about their own personal Jobs From Hell. If you’d like to participate, just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Today’s Job from Hell is from Dr. Carol Moore.
I have had lots of really, really bad jobs, but I would have to say the one with the most macabre aspect was working for the Charleston County morgue. I had to carry a beeper and whenever they were ready I’d get paged and I’d have to go meet the ambulance guys at the county hospital with the dead bodies that were coming in. There were two things that made this job particularly bad. The first was that I was 29 years old, and a girl and county hospital, in and of itself, was pretty bad back then. There was a hierarchy of people who got sick and the ones who came into county were at the very bottom of that hierarchy. They were the non-paying sick people, mostly, so it had more than its fair share of drug addicts and not so great people. It was a creepy place and the morgue was way down in the basement.
So I’d get a page and go meet the EMTs and they’d roll the bodies into the morgue. They’d help me get the body out of the body bag or whatever they had it in, and they’d help me get it onto a stretcher and then they’d leave. I’d unclothe the person – take off their pajamas or whatever they were wearing – then I had to draw blood and urine for toxicology. If I couldn’t get their urine out with a catheter, I’d have to take a big old needle and stick it into their bladder and aspirate it, and I’d have to do the same thing for their blood. Often, I couldn’t get blood out from under their collar bone, so I’d have to draw it right from the heart. The hardest part was getting them undressed. You take a 200 pound man who’s broken up and not helping you and try to get him out of his clothes. So I’d undress them, draw fluids, tag their toes and get them in a drawer, and they were still warm, so I always thought that they might just sit up and slap me for the way I had to wrestle with them.
The other bad thing about that job was the guy I had to work for, who was an ex-Delta Force freak with a Tom Selleck mustache and a Larry the Cable Guy belly and he took it way too seriously. I mean, you should take it seriously but he was over the top. I was a medical student, and so was my boyfriend [note: they’re now married] and sometimes he’d come with me to county if I got a call in the middle of the night, and this guy would freak out if he found that Ralph had come with me. If the EMTs helped me with a body he’d freak out. He insisted that no one could be in the morgue but me. I wasn’t in there with a camera in my pocket having a party, it wasn’t a crime scene, I was a medical student and I could appreciate the nuances of privacy. But he was always getting chapped about something and yelling at me. I finally told him to stuff it. There was no amount of money worth it to do such a creepy thing in such a creepy place for such a creepy person. I think I was getting paid about $10/hour. Even today I can remember the smell of a morgue…it’s like a bakery. Nothing smells quite like it.