Monday, April 12, 2010

A window of cadaveric opportunity OR I love the smell of formaldehyde in the morning

Last week I was at work and a crackly voice came on the intercom and said, “There is, um, a sniper with a high powered rifle in the area. There have been some shots fired and law enforcement has cautioned us not to leave the building and to stay away from the windows and exits.”

When the announcement was made I was sitting in a less-than-interesting meeting and the guy leading the meeting went straight to a window, pressed his face to the glass and said, “A sniper? Where?”

As I’ve mentioned, the meeting was really boring and I had already been daydreaming. When this fool went to the window I started to daydream about the sniper firing through the window and shooting him.

I didn’t want him to get killed or anything. I just wanted the sniper to get him in the arm or the leg or graze his earlobe or something because that would make for the coolest story ever. People would gather from all around because the story of my day would top everyone else’s and I would be Story King for a day.

Don’t think I’m a bad person. First, this guy was asking for it. Second, my job is oftentimes very boring and if someone has to get hurt to liven things up, so be it. It’s a worthy sacrifice.

We all went in the conference room and they told us that the police were evacuating us out the back way and we got to go home two and a half hours early! Hooray for snipers!

After the police caught him and no one was hurt, The Sniper kind of became an office hero. In the days that followed my co-workers and I found ourselves missing the guy. In staff meetings you could hear people wishing Sniper would come back, and right before a deadline you could hear people praying for snipers.

Since no one was hurt I had a much less exciting story to tell, but that didn’t stop me from telling it to anyone who would listen. After he heard it one guy said, “Yeah, well you should be glad you didn’t get shot.”

I guess it never occurred to me that I could’ve been shot, and this new thought took a little of the wind out of my Sniper sails. How would I have told my cool story then?

Soon I was in another boring meeting, daydreaming about what I would want done with my remains if I had died. Burial? Cremation? Neither of those final resting places had quite enough style for me and I decided that I would like to donate my body to science and become a cadaver, one of the preserved bodies that med students have to look at and dissect. It would be kind of cool to be immortalized in formaldehyde and spend my dead days smelling weird and weeding out students with stomachs too weak to practice medicine.

Then I researched cadavers and learned that if you want to donate your body to medical science
you need to be very specific about which branch. Some cadavers get used in “body farms,” places where scientists sprinkle dead bodies over a few open acres of land and study how they rot. I don’t think I would like to be that kind of cadaver, but on second thought, I would be dead and when you're dead you can't be too picky about your accommodations.

I guess a body farm is as good a place to cadaver as any.


  1. Ew yeah I saw a documentary about body farms once. SO GROSS.

    Once our work shut down because there was a bomb threat like a block away. Except nobody told us. We were just like "why is nobody coming in here?" and then we looked outside and it was like an apocalypse movie, with one lonely cop car at the road blockade like waaaay down the street, not letting anybody walk near us because it was too dangerous...
    thanks guys.

  2. that's a good story! glad you didn't get shot, or that guy either!

    i was just looking around your website and i noticed that you enjoy "Fringe" and "V". You just won a couple cool points in my book! I'm still a little undecided about "V", but so far i like it.

    i always wanted to be cremated, because i thought it was a waste of space/ land to be buried. but then i heard a guy say that he wants to be buried. something to say that "i was here". i'm still undecided.

  3. @miss.chief - I think it's fascinating (and disturbing) that they made a documentary about body farms.

    @Sun Soak - I love Fringe and I'm glad they're picking up the "alternate universe" storyline again. I love V but I think they are flirting with some cliches and they better get it under control or it will start to suck. I could nerd out on this stuff for days.

  4. You should read Stiff by Mary Roach. It's all about cadavers and what happens to them and all the options. I found the "Turning your body into fertilizer for a special tree for you loved ones to remember you by" interesting. Kinda something a super green weirdo might do. But still, interesting, and it makes a good point. Anyway. Just a suggestion.

  5. Your story really made me envious... if only there was a sniper to liven up my day. Except then it would probably be a school shooting as a result from this new legislature that allows guns on campus, so guess it's bad in the long run.

    I find body farms incredibly interesting and proceeded to google "body farm documentary" ...there must be something wrong with me.

  6. "That tree is fertilized by my dad/brother/husband." It may be green, but that's just gross.

    @Chelsea - I hadn't heard of that legislation but I googled it and I am appalled.


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