When I went to college first time round and dabbled in elec eng (where dabbling = discovered the Internet in the computer labs) I used to work as a porter in a very very busy hospital. One of the not so nice jobs (and there were many) was getting “the box”. The box was the special trolley for transporting recently deceased patients to the mortuary. The nurse would page you and ask for you to bring the box to Ward 3a etc. You’d then have to find another porter to give you a hand.
You’d have to go down to the mortuary, collect the special trolley (basically a trolley with a lid over it) then go up to the ward where the nurses were meant to have the body wrapped in a sheet and have it taped so that you couldn’t see the person. A lot of the time they couldn’t be arsed or didn’t do it properly. Some had only died minutes before, some had died hours. Most were still warm. When yourself and the other porter transferred the body into the box the nurses would strip the bed, quickly wash the matress (which had a plastic cover), dry it, put a new sheet over it, and have it ready for a new patient that was down in A+E. Sometimes the new patient was sitting in the TV room, waiting to be admitted. Their bed was still warm when they got into it. Welcome to the Irish health system and you wonder why MRSA spreads so quickly and why some get sicker after they go to hospital.
When you got to the basement and into the mortuary you’d then have to take the body out of the box, transfer it into a kind of lift thing, open one of the large fridges and transfer it in there where it’d then be taken out by an undertaker when he arrived.
This is just an explanation of the process, now is the story about the dark humour that circles around such a job. One of the older porters told me a story before of when they decided to play a prank on one of the kings of the jokers. This guy was a right hard man but anything about death and ghosts scared the shit out of him. So this porter was called to take a former patient from the ward in the middle of the night. He called his buddy to give him a hand. They got to the ward and the body was wrapped. They brought it down to the mortuary and opened the box. As they were about to lift the body to the other trolley/lift thing, one of the hands fell loose. This scared the jokerKing but his buddy told him to just grab it and tuck it back into the sheet.
So as he was doing this the hand grabbed him. He screamed. The body started sitting up in the box. His buddy screamed and ran out the door. The hand was still grabbing him and he pulled it off his hand and he ran for the door. The door was a push in, pull to get out. He forgot this and was at the door screaming and pushing and looking back at the body sitting up. He panicked. He caught a chair and threw it through the window and jumped out. His buddy who was in on this came back in and say the window, the other porter dressed as a corpse wasn’t expecting that. There was hell to pay in the morning and the jokerKing needed a week off work he was so traumatised.
One of many stories from a former life. Maybe some other time I’ll write about when I worked in A+E and a call came in from an ambulance that they were coming in with a patient with a self-inflicted gun trauma to the head.