Cleaning up a suicide scene, no big deal? May 21, 2009 10:55 AM   Subscribe

The suicide scene wasn't cleaned up and the new flooring crew just took it all in stride and cleaned it up, really? Not so much a "Is this true" question, though there is a bit of that, but more curiosity if anyone has been a part of a flooring or cleaning crew and had to deal with situations like those in the question.

Wouldn't there be some sort of protocol for cleaning up scenes? Doesn't someone check up on these things? Aren't there legal sanctions? Do flooring or construction crews really come across this type of stuff and just get rid of it without calling the cops?

And why no calling of the police, either by the poster or the crew?
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Etiquette/Policy at 10:55 AM (100 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

Just FYI I know the person posting that so I can attest to the truthfulness of the question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:58 AM on May 21, 2009


Jessamyn, you have ruined my day. I was just fixin' to have some fun.
posted by brina at 11:00 AM on May 21, 2009



Wouldn't there be some sort of protocol for cleaning up scenes? Doesn't someone check up on these things? Aren't there legal sanctions? Do flooring or construction crews really come across this type of stuff and just get rid of it without calling the cops?


My uncle died an undignified death, and it was up to my mom to clean up his apartment, including the room where his body was found. She contacted the police for assistance, and they didn't really care about things after their reports and the autopsy were finished.
posted by boo_radley at 11:02 AM on May 21, 2009


Thanks Jessamyn, that eases my mind a bit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:03 AM on May 21, 2009


I admit I found some freaky stuff in the house when there was a suicide in my family, but nothing amounting to human brains. Nothing even remotely close to human brains.

And California law does require folks to hire a licensed medical waste disposal service to clean up after a messy death, even in a private home.
posted by brina at 11:04 AM on May 21, 2009


Call Sunshine Cleaning!
posted by Artw at 11:10 AM on May 21, 2009


Here's an old AskMe about cleaning up after violent crimes. I remember the Insomniac with Dave Attell episode mentioned there, which was really interesting because it showed in detail what sorts of things go into cleaning up after something like that.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:10 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what's great for clearing brains off the floor? A zombie dog.
posted by exogenous at 11:12 AM on May 21, 2009 [33 favorites]


My first year as a public defender, I learned all about the after-violent-death cleanup market. It's fascinating and gruesome.

The police don't necessarily have a protocol (and no job responsibility) for cleanup. I was never at a crime scene until after it was released, so I can't really speak too much to how the police generally comport themselves on scene. I do know that victim's services (assuming there is one in the city) will provide a list of available services in the area; being public employees, they can't actually recommend or call anyone. But not everyone gets in touch with victim's services and with an obvious suicide or accident they wouldn't be called.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:17 AM on May 21, 2009


an old fella I knew as a kid did himself with a shotgun in the mouth. one of my buddies (my age, I mean) was riding by the house, and the wife (the couple were retarded, but not profoundly so...this was in the 70's and they functioned well in the small town society).
the wife was sitting on the front porch smoking, as she always did, and called out, as she always did...but this one stopped my pre-teen friend and instead of a wave and a shout he stopped. "Paul's done shot hisself"she repeated, smoking her foot long cig.
Eventually my dad went over, and the fire department, he said, had drilled big holes in the floor and washed the room out with a fire hose.
I wondered about the aftermath of such action even then.
But I have no doubt it's all factual.
posted by dawson at 11:17 AM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


If only some "community weblog"-type site on the internet could have hosted a terrifyingly detailed post about how to dispose of a human body without leaving a trace, this incident might never have unfolded the way it did.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:18 AM on May 21, 2009 [14 favorites]


See the recent (2007) Samuel L movie, Cleaner, for a fictional take on the idea of a murder hiring a crime scene cleaner to cover up his crime, unwittingly.
posted by nomisxid at 11:20 AM on May 21, 2009


You know what's great for clearing brains off the floor? A zombie dog.

A regular dog will work in a pinch. Or a cat. "Meow" is cattish for "BRAAAAAAINS".
posted by Mister_A at 11:24 AM on May 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


When we were moving out of a rental house last year we opened the Yellow Pages to find a cleaning service to clean up after we moved. I was surprised how many services advertise that crime scene cleanup was their specialty. I wouldn't think the market was so large, but there you go.

Personally, if I needed to clean up brains and blood I'd call the Wolf, who should be comin' directly.
posted by bondcliff at 11:26 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Long long ago I worked for an insurance restoration company. We came in to fix houses that were burned or flooded, mainly, but we'd from time to time also get DBO (Dead Body Odour) or similar icky work. There were other more specialized companies that came into to deal with full on biohazard medical waste, but there were a couple of occasions when I had to don a filter mask and gloves, and go into a place and throw everything away - mattress, carpets, etc. - because it was irredeemably stinkified by a long unnoticed corpse.

I don't have anything first hand, thankfully, beyond that. But colleagues gave me plenty of horror stories.

Just as bad as DBO or suicide cleanup were the cleanups coming in after somebody was taken off to the home or a mental hospital after being completely out of it and living like an animal for months or years on end.

Imagine the crazy person who eats nothing but delivery pizza, and uses the old pizza boxes as the toilet. Stacked, filling the living room, each with a half-eaten pizza and a poop in it. With a complex ecosystem thriving within. Eventually the pizza delivery guy dropped a dime on her, and she was taken away. Then they called us.

I am very glad I was not on that job.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:53 AM on May 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


There's this piece about the author's father committing suicide, which opens with a description of the clean-up. It's really a great, haunting piece in general.
posted by palliser at 11:59 AM on May 21, 2009 [11 favorites]


There was an article in Harper's a few years back about this. There are companies out there that specialize in cleaning up crime scenes, at least in the US. I don't know how it works elsewhere.
posted by chunking express at 12:18 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


This company, Aftermath, Inc, provides exactly that service. A very interesting and slightly disturbing book was written about the company and the people that work for them. It's really is a side of the world I never thought about, and hopefully will never have to.
posted by teleri025 at 12:41 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


We came in to fix houses that were burned or flooded, mainly, but we'd from time to time also get DBO (Dead Body Odour) or similar icky work.

I knew it! Were you the Amy Adams or the Emily Blunt character?
posted by mullacc at 12:44 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


My friend's sister in law got a great deal on a Mazda in Dubai. The car was less than 3 months old and had less than 300 KM on the odometer and they got it for like half of the MSRP. After less than a week of owning it, this horrible smell started to pervade. They cleaned the carpets and upholstery, fumigated, vented, cleaned again but the smell kept coming back once the perfume wore off. So, they took it back to the dealership who fessed up that the first owner was found stabbed to death in the car and it was left out in the Arabian desert for 9 days before anyone found it. 9 days of bloody corpse oven that ruined the car permanently.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:47 PM on May 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


I used to go to school with someone that owned one of those cleaning companies, and he used to regale us with stories of how hard it is to clean up a body that's turned into goop after sitting in a water-filled tub for days.

Really fun guy.
posted by HopperFan at 12:51 PM on May 21, 2009


paging ColdChef
posted by Afroblanco at 12:53 PM on May 21, 2009


A guy died in an apartment that my company manages in Asheville, NC. In August. With the AC off. And no one found him for days. He had exploded due to the extended unchecked decomposition and there was fluid and tissue all over the living area. We had to hire a crime scene clean up company to come in and then replace all the flooring and paint. It cost around $11,000 but luckily insurance covered it.
posted by chiababe at 12:57 PM on May 21, 2009


Yeah, my grandmother died in her apartment in San Diego in August and wasn't found for a week. My uncle said that even fans in all the windows and a massive amount of febreze, the apartment was unbearable. Even the belongings we got sent from the estate (knick-knacks, jewelry and so on) stank to high heaven.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:12 PM on May 21, 2009


A guy died in an apartment that my company manages in Asheville, NC... He had exploded

Asheville, NC: City Living In a Rural Atmosphere
posted by netbros at 1:20 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


bondcliff : I wouldn't think the market was so large, but there you go.

Really? I'd think just the opposite. Things with icky results happen all the time (suicides, bad accidents, etc), and I would think that most areas could probably support such a service.

But then I've got a pretty gruesome imagination, so in my mind, most deaths end in a scene like something a Troma film, and as such, I might not be the best judge here.

"This is the room that my grandfather passed away in"

::Cleaner surveys scene of grim destruction. There are gallons of blood everywhere including the ceilings and between the closed windowpanes::

"So what happened?"

"He died in his sleep. He had a heart condition."

"Yep. Figured. Always looks like slaughterhouse after one of those. No worries, I'll get it cleaned up."
posted by quin at 1:44 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Meow" is cattish for "BRAAAAAAINS".

Wrong. "Meow" is cattish for "idiot".
posted by Elmore at 2:02 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every time I read one of these threads, I become more convinced that my preferred method of Timely Checkout (as in, deliberate suicide when my physical health reaches a high likelyhood of no return, with the additional loss of quality of life, be it from Alzheimer's, cancer, AIDS, etc., crossing some tipping point) — a few sticks of dynamite, blasting caps, other odds and ends, along with myself and a raft on a goodly-sized pond, with a videocamera taping the event from inside a locked car — will be less hassle for everyone involved.

I'm not a particularly tidy person, but I despise the idea that I will leave behind some kind of mess which I could not eventually get around to cleaning up. Right back to the fish in small, digestible chunks just seems about as pleasant as it could get. I'd have to be sitting on top of a lawn chair, with the dynamite held above me, so as to avoid killing the fish, but also to keep the odd finger from going whistling off into the weeds, but I think it is otherwise workable.

Beats the hell out of having someone's final thoughts about me be, "What is that smell? Dear God, is that a stain?"
posted by adipocere at 2:23 PM on May 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


Technically, it can mean both. Depending on the dialect and inflection, it can also mean "Food!", "Let me IN!", "Let me OUT!", "LOVE ME!", "What was that?", "Can you see me?", "Where am I?, "Do I know you?", "Did I mention that I was hungry?", "I swear to god I will kill that fucking dog if you let it up on the bed with us again.", "Are there any scratchies for me under the blankets?", "there is a ghost under the bed.", "Where did the red dot go?", "Look at my ass.", and "Got any treats?"

If you study it long enough, you find that cattish is a surprisingly concise language.
posted by quin at 2:24 PM on May 21, 2009 [19 favorites]


I told you so.
posted by qvantamon at 2:39 PM on May 21, 2009


quin: also: "why is everyone ASLEEP?!"
posted by epersonae at 2:51 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Not so much a "Is this true" question, though there is a bit of that...

floorofgore@hushmail.com? I wonder why you doubted the OP?
posted by gman at 2:52 PM on May 21, 2009


In Year One of my days as a cub reporter:

Me: "So, what happens now?"
Cop: "With what?"
Me: "All of this."
Cop: "Oh, we got what we needed."
Me: "But there's blood everywhere ..."
Cop: "We already caught the bad guy..."
Me: "But..."
Cop: "... the rest of it, not something we do."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:19 PM on May 21, 2009


One my best clients is a well known hotel chain. And I will tell you that take any kind of death and the like in a property of theirs VERY seriously.

No matter what they will strip the room down to the dry wall and bare floors. Whether it was a violent death or not. They will completely redo the room with all new furnishings, bed, everything (in some cases even fixtures). Then they will have a couple of different religious rights performed in the room. No shit. It's not just about PR. And it ain't just for the guests. Hotel staff want to know the place they work has been sanctified if anybody has died there.

And you would be shocked how many people die in hotel rooms every year. In fact when people want to commit suicide it's very common to rent a nice hotel suite bathroom to do it in. It's not like you'll have to pay for it.

Next time your in a hotel watching the pay per-view porn and eating room service it's more likely than not somebody died in that room.
posted by tkchrist at 3:38 PM on May 21, 2009 [10 favorites]


My teenage brother's girlfriend committed suicide by hanging herself deep in the woods behind my parents home. When she was found over a week later (on his birthday - it took so long because severe storms had been going through the area hampering search efforts), the state police removed all remains and "removed all evidence the suicide scene" after their investigation, including the branches she used to hang herself.
posted by mrmojoflying at 3:52 PM on May 21, 2009


I once met a guy who had worked on a cruiseline and he claimed that on just about every cruise, at least one person gets arrested and at least one person dies.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 3:56 PM on May 21, 2009


One more voice corroborating the existence and activity of crime-scene cleanup crews. I have never had any personal involvement with them, but from working on newspapers, know they exist. However, I have had personal involvement with a disaster cleanup crew, the insurance restoration type mentioned by Meatbomb. The riverside summer camp where I used to work floods every few years, and a couple years ago a particularly bad flood pretty much drowned the place. The sewers and latrines backed up, and e. coli-containing waste was floating all around the camp, contaminating every surface. When the water receded, every building had a line about 5' up the wall, below which was black with mold and...well, whatever. The cleanup crew came in with hoses, spray chemicals, loud music, big scrubbers, and stayed a long time until everything was sanitized again. Most of the people were quite nice and I gather the pay was good.
posted by Miko at 3:59 PM on May 21, 2009


I just hope my friends and family find me dead before my famished cats gnaw out my eyeballs and tongue!
posted by ericb at 4:12 PM on May 21, 2009


I just hope my friends and family find me dead before my famished cats gnaw out my eyeballs and tongue!

One my best friends is a ME here in King County. We have a deal. If he finds ever me he is insure that my death scene be documented as heroic, or at least not ironic. In other words my pants pulled up and the internet cache cleared.
posted by tkchrist at 4:19 PM on May 21, 2009 [14 favorites]


If he finds ever me he is insure that my death scene be documented as heroic, or at least not ironic.

Cause of death: His heart just burst from his own awesomeness when he prevented that busload of schoolkids from plunging into that ravine filled with molten lava.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:14 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would prefer to die in a very cold climate (or on the top of Mt. Everest).
posted by bad grammar at 5:39 PM on May 21, 2009


"Sometimes, when an individual living alone dies unexpectedly, several days may pass before anyone takes notice. Some of these individuals may own a dog or a cat, which will go unfed. In my experience, a dog may go for several days before finally resorting to eating the owner's body. A cat, on the other hand, will only wait a day or two. Just goes to show you which is more loyal. So, the next time you're falling asleep on the couch with the football game on, take a look at your cat. He's not watching you because he's enamored of you; he's checking to see if your chest is still moving."

That said, we had a neighbor in the town I grew up in who died in her home and wasn't found until half a week later and the dog thing checks out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:05 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


The movie Permanent Midnight is based on the memoir by Television writer Jerry Stahl concerning his years as a heroin addict. In one scene, Stahl (played by Ben Stiller), returns home (to New York, I think) after his mother commits suicide. He enters the empty house to find a massive blood stain in the living room. He gets out the cleaning supplies and gets to work.
posted by Clay201 at 6:11 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan writes "So, they took it back to the dealership who fessed up that the first owner was found stabbed to death in the car and it was left out in the Arabian desert for 9 days before anyone found it. 9 days of bloody corpse oven that ruined the car permanently."

Dead body odour even permeates metal; you can smell it when you weld the metal and it'll seep into the car when it heats up in the summer time.
posted by Mitheral at 6:21 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


A cat, on the other hand, will only wait a day or two. Just goes to show you which is more loyal.

If I was locked away somewhere and can't get out with my dog and no food, well, sorry buddy.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:45 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my experience, a dog may go for several days before finally resorting to eating the owner's body. ...
That said, we had a neighbor in the town I grew up in who died in her home and wasn't found until half a week later and the dog thing checks out.


Is several days half a week? Actually, I don't want to know.
posted by exogenous at 6:46 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Act Two. Grime Scene.

Reporter Nancy Updike spends two days with Neal Smither, who cleans up crime scenes for a living, and comes away wanting to open his Los Angeles franchise, despite the gore — or maybe because of it. (12 minutes)
posted by niles at 6:55 PM on May 21, 2009


if I needed to clean up brains and blood I'd call the Wolf,

The Wolf was a Fixer, not a Cleaner
posted by P.o.B. at 6:58 PM on May 21, 2009


Dead body odour even permeates metal; you can smell it when you weld the metal and it'll seep into the car when it heats up in the summer time.

Luckily this is not true about spilled-Thai-iced-tea smell, or I'd have had to sell my car by now.
posted by davejay at 7:11 PM on May 21, 2009


paging ColdChef

As you might imagine, I've had quite a few occasions to do this type of work. It's not pretty stuff.

In one particular instance, a man shot himself with a .38 in the middle of his living room. Just standing right out in the middle of the floor. His ten year old son found him.

My dad and I went out to the house to remove the body. His head collapsed in on itself when we lifted him up. The best way I could describe it is that his head was like a bag of semi-melted party ice-all jagged and sloshy. But warm.

On the white WHITE carpet was a big, red stain. It's not our job to clean up trauma sites, but we both just pictured that little boy having to come back into that house, and we got to work. Using a knife from the kitchen, we cut a large square of the carpet away. The blood had soaked through the padding, so we took that, too. The bare wood of the floor was stained as well, so we looked through the cabinets and found some scouring pads and bleach and we scrubbed until the stain was gone. Both of us there, my dad and I, scrubbing the floors in our funereal suits. Took us about two hours (did I mention that it was nearly 2am by the time we were done?), but we were satisfied with the job we'd done.

If you're lucky, the bullet goes in, but doesn't come out. That happens more often than not. And most people (in my limited experience) do it in bed, so it's just a matter of taking all the sheets with them. Usually there's a brother-in-law or a concerned neighbor nearby to help discard the mattress.

Decomps, though...ugh. You can't even imagine the horror. It's too late for me to tell decomp stories, or they'll find a place in my dreams.
posted by ColdChef at 7:27 PM on May 21, 2009 [31 favorites]


ColdChef: "The best way I could describe it is that his head was like a bag of semi-melted party ice-all jagged and sloshy. But warm. "

Thanks for that.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 8:04 PM on May 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


This Houston Press article was pretty interesting.
posted by zinfandel at 8:05 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Blood, sweat and tears -- not to mention bile, chyme and mucus -- leak from your body after death. Ashes to splashes, dust to crust.

Ashes to Splashes featuring Dust2Crust is totally the name of my next indie/rap collaboration project.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 8:19 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Decomps, though...ugh. You can't even imagine the horror. It's too late for me to tell decomp stories, or they'll find a place in my dreams.

Well, please let me know when story time does start.
posted by xmutex at 8:25 PM on May 21, 2009


I used to have a friend who said that if he ever found out he was dying, he'd put his affairs in order, hike into the woods, track down a grizzly bear, and punch it in the face. He was, of course, a metal head.

The best way I could describe it is that his head was like a bag of semi-melted party ice-all jagged and sloshy. But warm.

Gee I dunno, Chef. I think you could have described that a bit more vividly. *shudder*
posted by brundlefly at 8:30 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just posted an answer in the original thread that among other things points out that in GA there is no protocol; although there are pros that do it, friends and family of the deceased often do the cleanup for a variety of reasons. Much like boo_radley mentioned at the beginning of the thread, the officials don't seem too concerned as long as all the loose ends are tied up. For another gruesome example, someone I know lost their son in a car wreck. The next day they went to the scene to look for any belongings and among the debris they found a chunk of skull with gray matter attached. People who deal with death on a regular basis can take a pretty cavalier attitude toward things that others find disturbing.
posted by TedW at 8:35 PM on May 21, 2009


This reminded me of the Infinite Solutions carpet cleaning secret.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 9:24 PM on May 21, 2009


The best way I could describe it is that his head was like a bag of semi-melted party ice-all jagged and sloshy. But warm.

I just wanted to be the third person to repeat this.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:35 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I once met a guy who had worked on a cruiseline and he claimed that on just about every cruise, at least one person gets arrested and at least one person dies.

You say this like it should be surprising but it's just statistics. A big cruise ship can have 3000 passengers (4000 on the biggest). On most cruise lines they tend to be older, in many cases quite elderly. Except for those 3 day Caribbean party boats, cruises will be a week long, sometimes two, and occasionally a month or more. One of those creepy life insurance actuary types could no doubt tell you exactly how many deaths you'd expect on the average among a couple thousand elderly people over the course of two weeks. Now take into account they are probably engaging in more physically stressing activity than they are used to, and yeah you're gonna get some dead q-tips.

The arrests are no surprise either. Not everybody is old, just a disproportionate number. Stick a bunch of people in an enclosed space with LOTS AND LOTS of heavy drinking and gambling going on and somebody will be going to the pokey for getting drunk and punching somebody else. Or somebody will get caught pilfering from luggage. Whatever.

Utterly unsurprising.

Although the stains on one of these ships are much more likely to be vomit stains than blood stains. Hooray?
posted by Justinian at 9:43 PM on May 21, 2009


One of those creepy life insurance actuary types could no doubt tell you exactly how many deaths you'd expect on the average among a couple thousand elderly people over the course of two weeks.

It's probably still too soon to talk about this, but I know of a case where an elderly cruise passenger died while touring ashore, and the tourguide and fellow passengers convinced the spouse to carry the body back onto the ship (à la Weekend at Bernie's) because it's much less of a paperwork nightmare if the person dies on board the ship, rather than in a foreign country.

The plan failed spectacularly with wildly escalating levels of deception and subterfuge. I think lawsuits and possible jail time are still pending, so I can't say any more about it here, but buy me a drink sometime.
posted by ColdChef at 10:01 PM on May 21, 2009 [17 favorites]


OH HI I'M COLDCHEF AND I HAVE LOTS AND LOTS OF SUPER-INTERESTING STORIES THAT I CAN'T TALK ABOUT SO YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO WONDER ABOUT IT FOREVER.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 10:08 PM on May 21, 2009 [57 favorites]


(i kid)
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 10:09 PM on May 21, 2009


I am feeling odd about feeling inadequate that I have no dead body stories.
posted by desuetude at 10:14 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think lawsuits and possible jail time are still pending, so I can't say any more about it here, but buy me a drink sometime.

You're such a tease.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:39 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


There was a Channel 4 doc a few years ago, called The Dead Body Squad.

It followed a Dom Joly lookalike as he went about cleaning up bodies around London. One of memories was of a body which had remained unnoticed, until the inhabitants of the flat below saw fluids running down and dripping off the ceiling light.

The thing that struck me was his hilarious and deadpan sense of humour. He did also seem to be a philosophical and sensitive soul.

A short clip here: http://tinyurl.com/oeqssx

If anyone can find a longer segment (or even the whole episode), please let me know!
posted by Kiwi at 1:35 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually the company featured in the documentary have a full version!

(Please don't break their server....)
posted by Kiwi at 1:55 AM on May 22, 2009


I'd just like to know what a "decomp" is. decompression? Like divers who come up too fast?
posted by philomathoholic at 1:56 AM on May 22, 2009


Argh! I can only watch the first four minutes of the doc kiwi linked. It appears to be fully loaded, but at 4:03 it just ends. Anyone else have the same problem?

philomathoholic: "I'd just like to know what a "decomp" is. decompression? Like divers who come up too fast?"

My assumption was that it was short for "decomposition," but IANAUT.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 2:08 AM on May 22, 2009


"First, be dumb from very beginning. Make sure carpet covers entire body..." -- Best of Bizarro AskMe
posted by No-sword at 2:57 AM on May 22, 2009


Isn't it wonderful how ColdChef's stellar comment got less favorites than the Zing-y comment after it?
posted by dunkadunc at 3:48 AM on May 22, 2009


OH HI I'M COLDCHEF AND I HAVE LOTS AND LOTS OF SUPER-INTERESTING STORIES THAT I CAN'T TALK ABOUT SO YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO WONDER ABOUT IT FOREVER.

Wonder no more. Listen to this oldie but goodie podcast and you'll hear the story about dealing with my first "decomp" or "decomposing body." Basically, a guy all swollen up with gasses moaned when I pulled his rotting body off of his sofa. Scared the shit out of me. I still have bad dreams about that guy.
posted by ColdChef at 5:23 AM on May 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


When is the ColdChef book coming out? That's all I wanna know. My publishing co.'s got some spare ISBNs sitting around if you want one!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:39 AM on May 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


ColdChef: Corpse tease.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:44 AM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


An acquaintance of mine died in the bathtub in Japan (where the body is almost completely submerged in water up to the chest). His body was not found for a month. I heard that they tore down the whole apartment building, and were going to rebuild it anew.

But when I heard that he'd died in that way, I didn't really think of the decomposing-body-eww factor. I just felt incredibly sad that he had died so alone in life that he had not been missed for a whole month. When I had known him, he had been at the top of his profession and the world. But he was a constantly relapsing alcoholic, which eventually got him fired, made his wife leave, and everyone else eventually I guess.

I don't know how I'll die but I just hope that at least, someone will miss me soon after I go.
posted by thread_makimaki at 5:54 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I equally love and hate ColdChef's rotten body stories.

I want to die in my sleep. Where I am found immediately by someone who will quickly clear my internet cache, keep the cats away and empty the trash before calling the authorities. Authorities who will take me away before my brains area all splooshy and my body all inflated.

Also, if someone could be so kind to clear my Blackberry of all the arms-length FAIL self portraits that never made it as a Facebook profile picture, that'd be great.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:17 AM on May 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


When is the ColdChef book coming out?

Oh God, I first read that as "When is the ColdChef colouring book coming out?"
posted by maudlin at 6:20 AM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dude I would totally buy the ColdChef coloring book. Dude.
posted by Mister_A at 6:25 AM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dude I would totally buy the ColdChef coloring book. Dude.

You'd need lots of brown and green crayons. And yellow. I've said too much.
posted by ColdChef at 6:27 AM on May 22, 2009 [19 favorites]


Is there any way you could just forward or mass mail it to those of us here who are pretty much intrigued to death right now, ColdChef? That keeps it semi-private. If not, I understand, but in case you decide to go ahead with it (MeMail or utana522bc@hotmail.com): +1 Devils Slide

It might even be therapeutic for you to share and get things off your chest. Just sayin'.
posted by Devils Slide at 6:34 AM on May 22, 2009


You'd need lots of brown and green crayons. And yellow. I've said too much.

*gag*

Man, I'm sure you do good work, but wow, I'm glad I don't have to deal with such things, even in crayon form.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:35 AM on May 22, 2009


Semi-morbid story which ColdChef will appreciate: I'm a dyer (as in "making things, usually yarn, other colors"). Recently I found myself searching mortuary catalogs with a friend of mine because, the reasoning went, a nice, scrubbable stainless steel table with a drain in it and a lip on the edge to keep dye from flying off onto the floor would be pretty awesome.

Then (there may have been beers involved), the conversation went over to "well, what if we could find an old funeral home, I bet the workrooms are all nice and tiled and it would be perfect for dyeing..."

and then...

"We could deliver the yarn in a hearse! We could call our new company Dying For Color!"

(and then I stopped drinking).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:42 AM on May 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


We could call our new company Dying For Color!

Live and Let Dye.

I'd be your first investor.
posted by ColdChef at 6:49 AM on May 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Don't tempt me. After the events of this week, the thought of doing nothing but dyeing all day is a pretty happy one... ;)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:58 AM on May 22, 2009


You know, a ColdChef book is a completely excellent idea, and I think you should pursue it CC, and any publishing industry types who hang out here.
posted by Miko at 7:03 AM on May 22, 2009


When I die, I want to go quietly in my sleep like my grandfather.




Not screaming and yelling, like the passengers in his car.
posted by plinth at 7:11 AM on May 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


I found a dead body once. I was working as a psych tech at a military hospital. I left work after a night shift and, as I was starting my bike in front of the hospital, I happened to glance at the building. To the left was an enclosed swimming pool, I noticed something hanging from the roof, two or three feet from the edge of the pool... After the WTF wore off, it was evident it was a body.

I went running, yelled for another guy coming out the front door.. We scaled the chain link fence around the pool to find a patient hanging by the neck over the pool.

Another tech came at that point, we sent him in to get help and the two of us grabbed the guys legs (which we could barely reach) and pulled him towards the edge. He was stiff as a board.

About that time a Sargent came out, looked at us, we're standing there holding the dead guy's feet, the body is at a 45 degree angle, the face was a hidious purple red color, his tongue was bloated and sticking out of his mouth, and the Sargent said "has anyone done CPR?". The two of us looked at him like he was nuts and let go of the feet. We all stood there and watched him swing while we tried to figure out how to cut him down without letting him fall into the pool.

In the end, they drained the pool and refilled it, a fairly easy clean-up.
posted by HuronBob at 7:41 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a relative who's an auto crash reconstruction specialist. Larger police departments tend to have a whole unit who go out after fatal car crashes to document the site, measure the skid marks, identify the vector and target vehicles (the hitter and the hittee), etc. (You can tell them how fast you were going, and they don't care. They can tell exactly how fast you were going based on these sorts of things. They just want to see if they can catch you in a lie.)

I've got no idea how he does it. On call 24/7, always.
posted by bardic at 9:00 AM on May 22, 2009


On multiple occasions in my town I would drive by an accident scene and the fire chief (also my mechanic...) would be out there with a fire truck, hosing all the blood off the pavement. Sometimes he didn't really get all of it, and the bloody patch on the pavement would last for months.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:09 AM on May 22, 2009


The best way I could describe it is that his head was like a bag of semi-melted party ice-all jagged and sloshy.

As a writer, I'm very jealous of that sentence.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:09 AM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


And when I die...
posted by ericb at 11:01 AM on May 22, 2009


And when I die...

Please Don't Bury Me
posted by TedW at 11:07 AM on May 22, 2009


Captain Cardanthian!: "My assumption was that it was short for "decomposition," but IANAUT."

right, thanks
posted by philomathoholic at 11:20 AM on May 22, 2009


Apparently that thread got some traction over on reddit as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:20 PM on May 22, 2009


The cops came in and they looked around
Throwing up everywhere over what they found
The handiwork of Marie's little dachshund
posted by sageleaf at 2:37 PM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have spent years of my life wondering why I am always the person who says something inappropriate that makes an entire room full of people go quiet. Then I went to my uncle's funeral. He had died in his house and had lain there for two weeks before being discovered. I spent the next 3 days with cousins who all cheerfully described the state of his remains, the difficulty of getting body fluids out of carpets, how the decomp was so bad that there was no question of having an open casket service, how bad the smell was, etc., over dinner or in line at Starbucks. It's genetic, apparently.
posted by echolalia67 at 6:11 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sure ColdChef has tons of examples of goofy things people say in the first hours of bereavement but here's one from my experience. My beloved mum was visiting me and sleeping in our guest room where she died very suddenly one morning before getting out of bed. She had donated her body to the local medical school and it was a few hours before their undertakers could come and collect her body. I therefore sat with my mum's body for a few hours.

In the meantime, my sister wanted to come to our house and see Mum's body before it was removed. I brushed Mum's hair, straightened the bedding, etc., doing the little I could to soften the blow of our mother's death for my sister. By the time my sister arrived at my home, Mum had been dead a couple of hours or so. My sister came into the guest room, and standing with me at the foot of the bed, holding my hand, looking at our mum's body, said softly, "She looks good. A bit pale...."
posted by angiep at 7:12 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate that I read this entire thread today. Tonight at work any time anyone bought anything used to clean carpets or car mats or to remove stains I had a hard time not imagining them going home to clean up gore.
posted by Kimothy at 9:50 PM on May 22, 2009


yeah you're gonna get some dead q-tips

Dead white people with puffy white hairdos? Ouch, sharp wit.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:24 PM on May 22, 2009


Thank you, niles -- I was hoping somebody'd link to the episode of This American Life where I first heard about the business of cleaning up crime scenes.
"Basically, most people are dirt bags."
posted by Rash at 3:07 PM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was in the bookstore this weekend and picked up Mop Men, by Alan Emmins. It's about Neal Smither of Crime Scene Cleaners, Inc.

I'm only on the 2nd chapter, so the jury is still out on whether it's any good, but I expect I'll be having nightmares by the end of the week. I've never before seen a back-cover blurb with the word "maggots" in it. That's not good eats.
posted by bondcliff at 7:32 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


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