Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Minor Functionary of the Underworld

That's me, right there. Guy in the boat. Charon, would be the mythological Greek version. And that there is the River Styx. Essentially.

I mean, at my work, it's not a river, but actually an underground tunnel that goes something like three city blocks, to the Medical Examiner's office. You just keep on going, past some labs, past the rack of HR forms you can fill out to have your paychecks mailed versus direct-deposited, and past the office where we get flu shots. Just the other day, I was taking that walk with a former patient, a person who I can confidently say will never need another flu shot again.

It's a strange thing when your mental "To Do" list has items like "go get a body bag," and "fill a plastic bag with ice, and then tape it over the eyes of a dead person." But hey, that's medicine. A normal day for me is very often... just not. Not by most standards.

It's very sad, most of the time, when someone dies. Some deaths are merciful releases from the sort of existence I wouldn't want for myself or anyone I care about. Some are terrifying in their randomness. None are entirely comprehensible. Me, I find it reassuring simply to know that my last moments on earth will be, among other things, just another part of someone's workday.

It would be cool if someone near me would give that person a coin, though. 'Cause I sure don't get anything except the exercise and the reflective quiet time in a creepy basement tunnel.

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