But, of course, it's not just the smells and sounds -- the sights are pretty awful too. Sometimes, I'd drive the dead bodies to medical centers for organ donation, where I saw an array of lovely things, such as rib cages being cracked open to get at the precious innards like a terrifying Kinder Surprise. The worst was skin donation. Did you know that skin is typically harvested from the neck down, so the body can still appear clean and untouched for an open-casket funeral? That's right, if your loved one was an organ donor, at their funeral they might be rockin' the Hellraiser beneath their Sunday best.
The Body Isn't Always Dead When You Arrive
A co-worker mentioned that, on several occasions, he had gotten calls to pick up a body that hadn't officially become dead yet. They were usually on a respirator or some other type of life support and weren't expected to last much longer. So there he was, just hanging around the lobby, sipping coffee and patiently waiting for his cargo to be ready. If you're ever in that situation and some visitor who wants to make small-talk asks what you do for a living, learn how to lie.
"I'm a courier of the ... bread."
An even more unsettling situation took place fairly recently. Two locals were in a terrible accident. The local news reported that they were killed instantly, except that wasn't true. I worked with the guy who ended up transporting them to the morgue, and they weren't dead when he showed up. They weren't exactly up and dancing, but their hearts were still beating and they were both breathing. Their injuries were too severe to survive, however, which is why they called for a transporter.
Worse still -- they held on forever. It was a painfully long wait before they died, meaning the transporter had time to make a sort of emotional connection to them. He even attended their funerals after they finally passed. Making a connection is perhaps the worst thing you can do when working around death. The more distance you keep between yourself and the "cargo," the easier it is to just load them up, send them to the cooler, and move on to the next chunk of flesh. It's not a pretty way to think, but then, it's not a pretty business. Hey, that's why they pay you the big bucks to do it.
All nine of them.
Jason corpses on both Facebook and Twitter.
For more insider perspectives, check out The 6 Strangest Things Nobody Tells You About Life in Korea and 5 Things You Only Know If You Grew Up in a Communist Regime.
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