It’s about more than just the money – there are a million ways of making a quick buck that would be easier, more pleasant, but they don’t all let you work unusual hours. Anyway, just so you know, it isn’t just the money – it’s more about being in control of my own life. When you need time to study and attend classes but don’t come from a home where Daddy can afford to pay your rent, your bills and your tuition fees, you find a job that fits in with your new world.
I get funny looks when people find out what I do. Their features crumple into incredulity as they ask, “How can you do that? Don’t you find it a bit disgusting?” As it happens, yes, sometimes I do find it a bit distasteful, but that comes with the job. I know they think it strange and that many of them could never bring themselves to work in such a place. You need a good sense of humour too – if you don’t know how to laugh, you’d soon learn how to cry, but you just can’t let it get to you. You carry on and you deal with it. Eventually, people come round and mostly they end up looking at me with a certain degree of respect. I get a kick out of knowing not everyone could do this job – it takes a special kind of person; a special talent, and that’s something I have.
Nakedness has never bothered me; it’s the occasional leering face and the cold, clammy hands that get to me most often, but not the nakedness. I mean, it’s not like they can hurt me in any way, but sometimes it gives me the creeps when I look into their staring eyes. What is it about naked flesh that bothers people anyway? It’s the body in its natural state. All right, not everyone can have a beautiful body; one that’s pleasing to the eye, but we all end up the same way.
In this business, measurements are all-important: Everything examined in close-up, nothing missed and nothing skimped over. Each and every inch of the body is on display, there are no secrets here – all is revealed. I suppose that makes many feel vulnerable, but you get used to it very quickly. You have to, or you won’t last long.
Of course, the pay is pretty good too. You get used to being able to afford little luxuries like a roof over your head and groceries in your cupboard and it’s hard to resign yourself to something that doesn’t pay so much, even if it does mean you won’t have to walk into that big, open room and do your thing. Like I say, it’s not about the money and it’s not even about enjoying the job, but I do get a sense of satisfaction at the end of the night.
In case you’re wondering, I have no plans to give this up any time soon. It’ll get me through college and then keep me going until I find a job that suits my qualifications, although I know that it’s going to be tough to do that, but at least I have something to tide me over until that happens.
And of course, it’s the source of some pretty interesting stories – after all, it’s amazing what you get to see working the night shift at the morgue.
Kell Smurthwaite, 2006 ©