In the middle of an employment skills unit yesterday, one of my students handed me an article he had torn from Business Weekly, I think, and said “I think I found what I want to do, Teach.” I had been desperately encouraging my students to think of possible careers besides drug dealing or, car theft, or well, dying from gunshot wounds from drug dealing or car theft. Or working the midnight shift on the Debeaking Line at Tyson Foods.
The article my student was referring to was about a company called Aftermath. This company cleaned up the nasty little messes leftover after double-barrel shotgun homicides, suicides, and other kinds of gory ends. The money was good, about $3500 per “job,” which could involve 5-7 hours of chemical mopping, skull-fragment removal and/or Shop-Vac-ing up a liquefied corpse. Besides the money, he said it would be nice to have a business to hand over to his son when he retires. “Son, this industrial sponge is yours now. As are my triple-thickness rubber gloves and my blood bucket. Use them well.”

We need people like this, don’t we? The manure-fetcher in the Christmas parade. The sewer worker. The mortician. People to handle all of the unpleasantness of life. Or at least the stuff that most of us think of as unpleasant. We toss our rotten lettuce-Kleenex-coffee ground-filled trash bags away without a second thought, knowing some brave soul will come once a week and make it disappear for us. So, if we are going to distribute handguns like candy, we’re going to need folks to pick out the splintered bones from the ceiling tiles, mop up the blood and brains, and deal with the leftover flesh bits, shattered teeth and splattered guts.

Who am I to judge, anyway. My student had done his research: he set long-term and short-term goals, knew what companies to call when he was released and asked me–asked me, I tell you–if he could begin working on his resume. He was more motivated than I had ever seen him. He was just itching to get started.

C’est la vie.