Right. So I was a bit obsessed with the body farm speaker during the Conference last month. I was so intrigued by it, that I mentioned it to my co-workers (who have no idea I write). I talked about the actual body farms, the deer eating dead people thing, and other little tidbits I learned from that workshop. I didn’t realize it would be such a great conversation starter!
One of my co-workers told a story about how when he worked at another shipyard, they lost a welder. The guy was having marital problems and everyone figured he’d just taken off one day. About three days later, it was discovered that he didn’t run away. They called in divers to look for him in the water. See, the man had fallen between the hull and the dock, knocking himself out on the way to the water. He drowned and was sucked beneath the dock where he wasn’t discovered until one of the divers found him.
This led to a second story from my co-worker who said yet another time, maybe a year or two after the first incident, he was walking to one of the vessels when he saw something strange out the corner of his eye. Yup, you guessed it: another dead body. This one was a guy who’d worked further up the canal and been battered down the waterway until he landed on the job site.
Now, this got me thinking. My job duties include collecting water samples. At least once a month, I haul out my sample pole, my cooler, and head to the ditches and canals at the yard. When I’m not taking water samples, I have to do audits which means I grab a camera and head to those same places (plus other more remote locations on the yards). Most of the time when I’m doing my audits or collecting samples, my main concern is snakes. Indiana Jones and I have a lot in common: we’re both adventurous and we hate snakes. I also keep an eye out for alligators, but I never, ever, ever thought I’d have to look out for dead bodies.
This wasn’t something they ever brought up during the job description discussions we had. You know:
You’ll have to track VOC emissions and air monitoring reports, collect water samples and send them to the labs, organize and set up hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste removal, conduct environmental audits, DEQ inspections, and watch out for dead bodies.
I’m pretty sure I would’ve remembered that part of the discussion. I told the co-worker with the gruesome stories that if I did come across a dead body, they’d have to send out body bags for two bodies instead of one because I’d have a heart attack. Okay, so I might be exaggerating, but it is a scary thought.
I’m not a cop, or a paramedic, or even someone who may occasionally come across a dead body, like a bounty hunter (Stephanie Plum style), or a vampire hunter (Anita Blake style). I’m an environmental assistant. I don’t think body finding is in my contract…you know, the one in my head that I signed but no one else knows about, kind of like the “best friends forever” contract I signed with Kresley Cole and Shelly Laurenston. Uh, probably shouldn’t have mentioned that, huh?
Anyway, this is something I’m keeping in mind from now on. When I enter the inspection scene or the water sample designated area, there are several things to look for:
A. Are there snakes?
B. Are there alligators?
C. Does it meet the environmental compliance regulations?
D. Is there enough water to take a sample?
E. Oh, are there any dead people here?
So what job hazards do you face on a day-to-day basis? If you’re Alice (Resident Evil), I don’t want to hear it, okay? I don’t want to hear you world-saving zombie killers moaning about evil corporations and flesh-eating monsters with viruses. I’m sick of it already. Everyone else though, do you have a dead person at work story you want to share?
Oh! and a special treat! Tomorrow I’m having a guest author. Yes, guest author, Nikki Duncan, will be answering all of those questions you’ve always wanted to ask a published writer. Er…should I apologize for introducing her during a post about dead people? She does write romantic suspense. She probably sees dead people all the time!