Ok, so I've been doing this job for about a year now. Before this, I did transport, and before that, I was a paramedic. Before all that, I was a bartender, waiter, and held every other job known to man. I even made womens underwear.I've had a few drinks, so try not to get too technical on me, but I'll do my best to keep up.

Here are a couple of pictures of me at work. http://imgur.com/a/1ZdD1

Comments: 257 • Responses: 107  • Date: 

ColbertsBump36 karma

Be honest, have you ever asked anyone to "enhance" a photo?

Hopalicious16 karma

I said "enhance" as I upvoted your comment.

solon664 karma


solon6614 karma

Nope. That's hilarious though. I'm going to do that someday.

solon6616 karma

Sorry, I didn't want to put up anything too gruesome as proof. I posted this in r/wtf earlier, but I'll give it to you guys.


MetalDwarf945 karma

Cool AMA! But I wonder...is it allowed to post photos like this?I especially mean the one with the...brain on the floor (I guess it's brain :D)

Anyway,take care!!

solon669 karma

Honestly, I've seen some nasty stuff on Reddit. I wasn't comfortable posting these pics until I saw someone else had put up a pic of a dead body. I'm very hesitant to show a picture of my ID, so I decided on those for proof. From what I understand, it still may not be good enough. I guess I'll deal with that when the mods see this AMA. Thanks for checking it out though.

TheRedCrumpet6 karma

you can contact the mods directly and send them your ID, they won't share it with any one, just confirm you're legit.

solon662 karma

So I've heard. I'll check into that. Thank you.

solon668 karma

Oh, and yes, that's a brain

ghkcghhkc4 karma

Is that the board you examine or carry a body on?

solon662 karma

It's the board that goes on top of the stretcher.

ghkcghhkc2 karma

You mean you put the board on top of the person on the stretcher? Just so people don't see it?

solon662 karma

No, the board is under the person, it's used to slide them in and out of the van without having to move the stretcher. The victim well usually be in a body bag or if they aren't messy, wrapped in a sheet. Then covered with a blanket.

MandMcounter3 karma

What happened there?

solon666 karma

Suicide. .357 mag to the head. The board on my stretcher got covered because a chunk of skull tore through the body bag in transit, and he leaked everywhere.

solon6615 karma

Well, this was actually fun. Thank you all for coming and asking questions and commenting. I was hesitant about it because I don't like answering questions, but I actually had a good time. So, for the couple of people who asked me to do this, thank you. My psychiatrist says I need to talk more about my job anyway, instead of bottling it up. So she would be proud. You guys and gals were all very nice and funny and interesting to talk to. I've got to get some sleep though, so I'm afraid I'm done with this AMA tonight. Thanks again, and be safe out there!

laserbeanz9 karma

You need to take your photos showing your face off the site. You could very well lose your job over some of these posts.

solon663 karma

Good call.

solon667 karma

For real this time. Must. Get. Sleep.

adenansu10 karma

Most wtf experience on the job so far?

solon6629 karma

Watching the police arbitrarily rule an obvious gangland murder as a suicide.

dead_bodies10 karma

Have you ever had any life threatening situations in your line of work? What has been the most disgusting scene you have had to been involved in thus far?

solon6619 karma

I've been on quite a few scenes of drive by shootings and other gang related type killings. The police always work crowd control, but I have had a few hundred people screaming at me while I gather information and evidence. I wouldn't say it was life threatening, but I always wondered if the shooter was in the crowd.

Most disgusting... decomps always take the cake there. I had one that was about 6 weeks dead, and they were in a hoarder house, so it was horrific. Full hazmat suit, rats and maggots everywhere, and buckets where the guy was vomiting and defacating into. Animals had gotten in an chewed on him, so he was falling apart. Pretty intense scene.

dead_bodies10 karma

That is pretty fuckin raunchy. Sounds like a bouquet of smells.

solon6615 karma

Without a mask, it's like walking into a wall. The smell of a dead human has a very primal effect on other living humans. Or at least it should.

dead_bodies5 karma

The only smell of death I have smelled and that I am still not used to is gutting a deer the only way I can describe the smell is of shit and old people homes mixed together with a twinge of stomach bile.

solon669 karma

It's the stomach bile that makes it bad. Something about that acidic smell that curls your nose.

nursecoco2 karma

I was a nursing assistant on an oncology floor a year ago and we had a lady die of stomach cancer (we knew she was going to die that day). But the family took so long to say goodbye to her that by the time we got in there to clean her up and put her in the bag she was rigid so we couldn't close her mouth. Went we went to turn her to put the bag under her all of the bile came streaming out of her nose and mouth. It smelled so bad, I will never forget that. We also couldn't close her eyelids either so it felt like she was looking at us the whole time.

solon664 karma

Don't you just love how easy eyelids are to close on tv? Just run your fingers across them and boom, closed. In all my experience, I've never been able to close a dead persons eyes. They just keep popping back open.

milanesedynasty7 karma

During my time as an undertaker my most hated body pick-ups were people who were swept away whilst rock fishing during summer. Their bodies would often spend a couple days in the water until they were found after being reported missing. I will never forget the musky, wet, decomposing smell and the flesh that was coming off ever so easily.

solon665 karma

Floaters are something most people don't like. For some reason, I don't mind them. Sure, they are messy because they fall apart. But the sea water and the fact that they are in the open tends to help with the smell. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I haven't had too much bad experiences with floaters.

milanesedynasty3 karma

for me it was the fact that damp musky wet smell lingered in your nostrils more than anything. I think my experience is made worse by the fact at the time the usual mort van we would use was out of action and the van that we had to use instead did not have a divider from the cabin and the rear during summer.

solon662 karma

Yeah they stink, they no doubt. In transport is the worst.

JuliousBatman3 karma

Dad gets floaters that stew in tubs for weeks. Those are his "favorite"

Favorite, read the only thing that still makes him gag after 25yr

solon663 karma

I don't like to call those "floaters". Those are fucking "soylent green soup". I'd like to meet the guy that doesn't gag over those. I'll buy him a round of drinks any day. I know this female detective, she will get right down into decomps with no mask. But not with the soup. She's hardcore, but that junk is nasty.

throwawayagain99-6 karma

You know if you're allowed to photograph such things are sites that will pay you for the photos.

solon6630 karma

I would never want to benefit from the misery of someone like that. That's some other assholes job.

iAmStos9 karma

So how long does a DNA test take? Cause movies say an hour some police forces say months. Thanks

solon6614 karma

Depends where you are. Some places have better facilities than others. I've never seen it go as fast as on tv. I'd say, on average, at least a couple weeks. But again, it depends. If it's for a murder, it gets priority. If you're trying to figure out of your wife is pregnant from some other guy, it takes longer. I'd go to a private company for that.

rbaltimore6 karma

My sister is a genetic counselor with a criminology/criminal justice double degree. The same day genetic testing on tv makes her bang her head against the wall. She can't even get that done for living people.

solon664 karma

Yeah. It's unrealistic as hell. But it's tv. They have an hour, at most, to solve a murder. They can't really skip ahead 5 weeks for the sake of realistic DNA testing. I know it's aggravating though.

rbaltimore2 karma

Yeah, I watch a few police procedurals, and they'd be pretty boring if they were realistic. DNA testing for something for my oldest son took 12 weeks and cost tens of thousands of dollars because the only lab that tests for it is in Paris.

solon661 karma

Hollywood doesn't realize how rare these billion dollar facilities are. Most places are underfunded and understaffed, and have outdated equipment.

rbaltimore2 karma

The nicest, best equipped MEs office I have been to is Boston's. I was there when it was brand new (a decade ago) and got a tour from the on-staff (!) forensic anthropologist (there were, at the time, only 5 MEs offices in the US with full time FAs). It was big, spacious, and laid out in a manner that made sense. State of the art quipped autopsy suites and plenty of room for a LOT of bodies. I don't remember seeing any crime labs, maybe they were housed elsewhere, but I did get an in depth explanation of the plumbing and sanitation system, I gather that flooding was an issue at the old location. But the thing that the FA kept emphasizing (besides how unheard of her job position was) was the space and size. The overcrowding at the last office was apparently legendary. "Bodies stacked like cordwood" was a phrase everyone kept mentioning.

I was MD/DC based (a student/teaching assistant/general grunt), and while I sometimes worked in a supportive capacity for the FBI's chief FA, no amount of casually suggesting (outright begging) was enough to get into the FBI's labs, which, for the safety of our nation, was probably a good thing. Better not to have random people wandering about.

Also, is just me, or do all tv crime labs (and hospitals) have WAY too many glass walls? My forensic career was short but it was all dry wall at the places I worked.

solon661 karma

I have yet to see that many glass walls. And everything bathed in that soft blue porno set light. Everything is well lit and antiseptic.

Sounds like you had a good experience in Boston. Phoenix has a great facility, as does Orlando. Miami has a great one too, but I hate going there.

rbaltimore4 karma

I imagine the office in Orlando is strewn with Mickey Mouse caps full of bullet holes, with a jaded ME who's seen too many pirates of the Caribbean dead from alcohol poisoning and random knife fights, too suicides of riders on "It's a small world after all."

I live in Baltimore, and even I'm scared of Disneyworld.

solon661 karma

I've never been to Disney Florida, or universal. But yeah, every time I go to Orlando, I'm stuck behind a damn Disney tour bus. The facility there is actually amazing. They have an entirely different cooler just for decomps. Spilled rotten, I tell ya.

RoxxieHale9 karma

What made you decide you wanted to get into that career? What is your everyday life at work like?

solon665 karma

I fell into the medic thing. Had a friend who was an EMT, and it just went from there. Every day is interesting. Some days are more than others. It's humbling to see the dark side of humanity every day.

RoxxieHale4 karma

That's cool. I'd like to get into the forensic science or criminal justice career in the future. So what is the strangest thing that has happened to you while on the job?

solon6613 karma

Hard to say. The whole job is weird. I had a guy that was decomposed for about 8 days, and his testicles were swollen to the size of a basketball. When we moved him, they burst open. It sounded like a bucket of water being dumped on the floor. And on my shoes.

Lonny-Mack6 karma

That's a mental image I sure didn't need.

solon668 karma

You and me both. It was one of my first decomps.

MandMcounter4 karma

Jesus. I wouldn't have thought that was possible. Did you throw the shoes away? Do you guys tell the family if something like that happens?

ghkcghhkc6 karma

I bet you could sell them on Ebay.

solon662 karma

Again, that falls under benefiting from someone else's tragedy. I won't do that.

solon665 karma

I was wearing shoe covers and a full hazmat suit, so luckily, my shoes were saved. No, we would never tell the family of the deceased that his balls exploded all over my shoes. It's unprofessional.

MandMcounter3 karma

I mean, not gory details, but I thought there might be a chance that they might see the mess or the body itself and you would have to explain--delicately--what happened.

solon663 karma

No this guy was alone. Usually, when someone is decomposed, it's because they don't have any close family or friends. There was a drunk bystander(he was the trailer park manager) that saw it. He actually got a kick out of the whole thing.

asrenos7 karma

What exaclty does your job looks like day-to-day ?

solon668 karma

Mostly, it looks like a lot of filling out paperwork. I just do it while surrounded by dead bodies.

Daffodils287 karma

What is the strangest cause of death you ever confirmed?

solon6614 karma

Confirmed? Good question... most are fairly straight forward. Probably one where a guy committed suicide by dousing himself in gasoline, then driving real fast over a bridge as he lit himself on fire. I swear I'm not making that up.

Daffodils286 karma

People are crazy. Thank you for sharing time, answers, & cleaning up other people's crazy-ass messes. The world is a much better place because of your work. Please take care & trust your gut. I'm sure your gut was right about the shooter in the crowd. Listen to the little voice & stay safe. You rock.

solon669 karma

Wow thanks. I'm just a cog in a machine.

Daffodils283 karma

No, you are not. Proof: driving the teen organ donor to his appointment. Thank you for the care & respect. You rock.

solon668 karma

I do a lot of transport anyway. I just felt that I had to do that one for my niece. Thanks again. I try to rock.

Daffodils282 karma

Let us know when you publish! ;-D

solon666 karma

If it happens, I will. I'm working on a couple things now, and recently talked to a published author. He gave me a ton of info on self publishing, so I may go that route. We'll see.

petersbro5 karma

Some people are serious. I had a relative drive into canyons in a blizzard, then she turned off the road and drove until she got stuck, then she overdosed on alcohol and xanax, then she got out of the car and walked in normal clothing as far as she could into the middle of nowhere. It took a while to locate the car and the body wasn't found until spring. I wonder what it looked like at that point... I'm sure the ME didn't have a fun time with it.

solon664 karma

She wasn't fucking around, was she? I had a senior citizen drive out into the swamp, very similar to your relative. He couldn't get out of his car. It wasn't suicide, he had dementia. He was found by game wardens about two months later. We were knee deep in swamp mud in mid summer, dragging what was basically a skeleton out of a car. Very messy.

rbaltimore5 karma

Wow. He didn't want to leave room for chance, huh.

solon663 karma

Nope. Get it done right the first time.

Sir_Tibbles6 karma

What do you investigate?

solon6614 karma

Any death where the police have to be involved. And sometimes an old person dies, and if their doctor is out of town or just being a dick, they won't sign off on the death certificate, so we get those too. Basically, I compile information to prove cause of death, time of death, etc.

lampkyter3 karma

I'm currently an EMT and in college taking law enforcement classes. How did you find that job? What did you need to do? It sounds extremely interesting.

solon662 karma

I lucked into it. I was an EMT, and knew someone who owned a company that did transport for the ME office. I did that for a while and got to know the ME, and they gave me advice on schooling. As an EMT taking the classes you're in, you should have no problems. Talk to your professor about it, and they likely have contacts and can get you a sit down or maybe a tour of the ME office. Good luck to you!

raechellyn1373 karma

I eventually want to be in your position, or a medical examiner directly. What would you recommend in starting school from the beginning?

solon661 karma

Start by getting a BA/BS in a relevant field - biology, criminal justice, forensic science, etc. Then you'll want to get certified by the American board of medico-legal death investigators. It's not absolutely necessary, and many places will accept experience in lieu of that certification(ie a year in nursing or other related field). That's usually enough to get you into being an investigator. If you want to be a medical examiner, then you'll have to go to med school after you get that first degree, and attain your M.D.

raechellyn1372 karma

Thanks a lot! I've been trying to start school, and any advisors have just been pointing me in circles or dead ends. I really appreciate it!

solon661 karma

No problem. Another thing you can do is contact the ME office and ask them the best way to go about it.

lampkyter2 karma

Thank you very much for answering

solon661 karma

Thanks for asking.

cfawkes6 karma

If one of your family members died and it needed investigating, would you be allowed to get involved?

solon669 karma

Nope. Conflict of interest. If it's anything requiring a criminal investigation, I'm not allowed. I wouldn't want to anyway.

cfawkes6 karma

Have you ever had to decline work because you did know the person?

solon6610 karma

Not yet. But we service 4 counties, so there's a lot of people. I imagine it's just a matter of time though.

jwoodsutk6 karma

How long does an autopsy and report take? My dad killed himself in May of this year, and we have yet to hear a damn word on toxicology or any details on the autopsy...is this normal?

solon664 karma

Like a DNA test, it depends on the facility. It also depends on what kind of backlog they have at the coroners office. You have to understand that they have finite resources, and even in a big city, they might only have 6 people working on autopsies. Maybe not even that. If they are into their 500th case of the year(easy to do) then they might have a dozen bodies in the cooler waiting for a while before anyone can get to them. Then again, in your dad's case, they may have already finished and just not contracted you. That's not uncommon. You can contact your chief medical examiner and get an update.

jwoodsutk5 karma

It's a small town with a lot of drug abuse, so I'm sure they have a hefty workload. It's just frustrating, I think I'm more annoyed with the police, who just refuse to call back and tell us what's going on

solon664 karma

Do you have a victims advocate with the police department? If so, call them. They are usually good about getting you the info you need. Best of luck to you, I know it's not easy waiting.

kozmund5 karma

It's safe to say that at some point your proof is going to be challenged. That said, mods are asleep, let's play!

In what circumstances does an ME visit a scene? My assumption was that the ME generally had the body brought to them, but recently I saw an ME car at a random house. Under what circumstances does an ME make a house call? Feel free to speak generally or about your specific area, I know it changes.

solon6611 karma

Yeah it's different for different areas. Generally, the ME will have transport bring in the body. Where I work, the actual ME only goes to a scene when it's a big case(we recently had a double homicide followed by a spree shooting where the ME showed up on a number of scenes). Otherwise, investigators or transport will do the job.

As far as my proof... I don't know what to tell you. I haven't been on Reddit long, and only made my first post a few hours ago, so I wasn't aware of the protocol. I don't feel comfortable getting too specific about my position, but I'll do what I can to prove it, short of endangering my job.

kozmund5 karma

I wouldn't sweat the proof too much. In cases like your or LEO, it's usually a badge or ID with everything but the title blacked out. I don't moderate, so don't sweat it, I was just saying that someone may ask. (Edited to add: You can also message proof to moderators. Check out the proof bit on the side bar.)

I'm curious, what sort of training happens in your area between EMS/EMT and ME? In your experience, do full MDs ever end up as MEs?

solon668 karma

The training is just going to school. Criminal justice courses, biology, etc. Being an EMT gives you a heads up in that department, and gives you practical experience. I imagine an MD could become an ME, if that's the way they want to go. I've seen people go from working as morticians to being in the ME office. So it really just depends on your direction.

kozmund2 karma

Thanks for the answers!

solon663 karma

No problem.

jodie518785 karma

Have you ever had any weird things happen like the bodies sitting up on you?
What is your most memorable moment so far??

And thanks in advance

solon6613 karma

Never had one sit up. I've had them groan, and had eyes roll around, which is creepy. Most memorable moment... that could go a lot of ways. I think my most memorable moment was when I got to get in on my first autopsy. That was... interesting.

MandMcounter4 karma

Groan? Were you worried that that one might still have been alive?

president-nixon9 karma

Dead bodies tend to "groan" as the gases leak out from the organs.

MandMcounter3 karma

That would scare the living hell out of me. I don't think I would ever get used to it, even if I worked around dead bodies for years.

solon663 karma

I'm not used to it. It's still creepy.

solon665 karma

I don't care how often it happens, or how much I know that it's natural, it's still spooky. Some people get used to it, but when I'm by myself in the holding room, and filling it paperwork, and I hear a groan behind me, I get chills.

jodie518782 karma

Thank you so much for your answers!

solon661 karma

And thanks for your questions!

dead_bodies4 karma

Has there been a case that has particularly impacted your life i.e left you with nightmares or caused you to question society?

solon6612 karma

My niece is 16, and one of her school friends died on a car accident. He was an organ donor, so I volunteered to transport him down to the university tissue bank. I was still very new then, and it was pretty emotional.

Hopalicious4 karma

Are you a fan of the TV show Quincy?

solon663 karma

I hadn't watched that show since I was a kid, but I used to love watching it with my grandfather.

dead_bodies4 karma

What has been the scariest moment during your career thus far?

solon6614 karma

I was in a car accident with a body in the van. The irony of dying in a van with a dead body, and myself ending up in a similar van was running through my mind. Luckily, it turned out fine.

dead_bodies7 karma

Glad you turned out fine. Did you suffer any injuries? Also in a dark and horrible fucked up way that is kinda funny. Sorry if offense is taken from my dark sense of humor!

solon666 karma

No offense taken. Trust me, the joke was not lost on me then or now. I had a bruise on my knee, but I was fine.

dead_bodies4 karma

You stated earlier you have had the bodies groan, is this in the people are still barely alive or is it a death rattle i.e the air leaving the lungs for the last time.

solon6613 karma

And actually, it's more than that. Sometimes it's gas built up in the internal organs and stomach, and the pressure pushes it out. Sometimes it really sounds like a voice, like the way someone groans in their sleep.

ghkcghhkc7 karma

Does the pressure ever push it out the other end, in some kind of death fart?

solon664 karma

Absolutely. It's called "purging". And I hate it.

ghkcghhkc3 karma

I want to see a video of you lighting one of those farts.

solon666 karma

Would you like to see the follow up video of me getting fired as well? Not only that, but that fireball might get out of hand. Let your imagination run with that...

dead_bodies6 karma

Oh god now that I think of it, I more than likely wouldn't think rationally and if a dead body "groaned" at me I would end up trying to bash its head in thinking its a zombie haha.

solon6610 karma

I tell my nephews that's why we have a cage behind the drivers seats in the van. Just in case...

dead_bodies4 karma

I'm guessing that the cage is there to actually stop a dead body, stretcher or god knows what else you have in the back of your van from smacking coming up in your front seat in case of an accident?

solon668 karma

That's what I would guess. It does nothing for the smell though.

dead_bodies6 karma

Ever entertained the thought of hanging little pine tree car air fresheners all over the cage? Also my step-dad is a State Trooper, he said a little bit of vics vapor rub under the nose does wonders for covering the smell of a dead body. He told me that is what he did during a few autopsies he had to oversee when he first became a Trooper.

solon6610 karma

I have about thirty of those little trees in my van. I don't do the Vicks. What I do is spray some scented oils on the inside of my mask. That does the trick. Vicks tends to make me light headed.

rbaltimore3 karma

I spent 4 years working with, for, and around forensic anthropologists. None of them use Vicks, despite the extreme level of decomp (nobody ever hands them skeletons), and they make fun of people they run across that do.

And for the record, the smell of partially decomposed skeletal remains macerating in a giant vat with detergents is . . . disturbing. Because it smells like stew, but you know what's in there.

Luckily for me, the remains were fully skeletal when they got to me, although they could be oily/greasy.

solon663 karma

I've come across some funky scenes, but couldn't imagine being one of the techs that had to go into Jeffery Dahmer's apartment. I always wondered how the neighbors didn't know.

cherriedalive3 karma

This is haunting. I can't imagine being alone in the room with a dead body while something like this happened.

Great AMA, thanks for doing this!

solon662 karma

Oh we play jokes on each other too. I've had the crap scared out of me by my co-workers.

solon667 karma

You guessed it: death rattle. It stinks, too.

dead_bodies3 karma

I wouldn't of guessed a death rattle would of had a smell!

solon6612 karma

We living people breath in and out, cycling the air. A dead body has that air settle in for however long until it comes out, stagnating and getting nasty. When it finally comes out, it smells like their rotting insides.

petersbro4 karma


solon666 karma

I love cooking, so it has taken its toll. I go through a ton of dawn dish soap, it seems to work the best in copious amounts. It may sound weird, but treat yourself to a manicure from time to time. Go to a decent place, and they'll get rid of the smell. On a daily basis though, there's not a lot that I've found that totally gets rid of the smell. It's just one of the setbacks of the job.

you_know_whyy3 karma

I'm currently studying Forensic Investigation but not sure where I want to end up. Any advise or guidance you could offer on this?

solon661 karma

It depends on what your endgame is. Are you more interested in field work, or do you like autopsies? I prefer being out on a scene, so I voluntarily do a lot of transport, and have gone the investigator route. I don't want to sit in a lab and dissect people. I'd rather compile evidence and write reports.

you_know_whyy2 karma

I would like to me more in the field but I do like occassional lab work as I find it interesting. However I can see how it would be taxing with all the paperwork etc.

solon661 karma

Investigation is the best of both worlds. Every place is different, and I work at a smaller facility, so we are a little more loose with rules about who does what.

solon663 karma

This is something I posted on r/depression I felt it was relevant here, because of how the job is apparently affecting me.

So I'm going to put this out there...

I am suicidally depressed. I'm not going to go into the "why". That's a story that's almost forty years old, and I don't have the time to drag that giant bag of skeletons out.

Here's the thing... Ever since I was a kid, I've felt isolated. I never thought of other people as part of the same world as myself. Everyone else seemed to be happy, at least for the most part. They seemed to have their $#!+ together. I was the only 2nd grade kid I knew that contemplated death. Contemplated suicide.

Everyone else seemed to be experiencing a world that I couldn't even touch. A world where kids grew up and went to college and married their heartthrobs. A world where they went on to do important things and live lives of self fulfillment and had kids and grew old and showed pictures of their wild youth to children to kids two generations younger than them. I was always just barely peeking behind the curtain, just piercing that veil, seeing enough to know that it was real... just never being able to understand why I could never be a part of it.

This has been my life for as long as I can remember. Always watching the worst kind of people reap the rewards of what, to me, was the best kind of existence: Normality. The ability to attain the level of "average" that I thought nature preferred.

I just turned 38, and my life has fallen apart like a game of jenga being played by Michael J. Fox and and a monkey with anger issues.

And I've realized something...

Screw normality. To hell with being average. I'm not going to aspire to mediocrity, the way I was taught to, by a bunch of mediocre teachers.

For all the wonderful inspirations in my life, be they the few teachers or the drug dealing felons on the Indian reservation or anyone in between, thank you. Thank you for telling a depressed kid that he could be more. To my mom, my step mom, my dad, my brother, everyone in South Carolina and Rhode Island, and Ryan and Sean... to all the folks who had faith in a kid who had no faith in anything, including and especially himself, thank you.

I will not bow or break under this. Because of you all, and because of what you've all seen in me when I couldn't even see it in myself, I will, as my dad's former Marines would say, "improvise, adapt, and overcome".

This is a hard thing to do. I've never really opened myself up like this, and I've certainly never thanked all the people responsible for saving me from myself. So I promise you all, from here on out, I'm not going to give up.

I'm not going to give up.

Not ever.

bluefb3 karma

How does your work affect your schedule? As in: Is it a daily 9-5 thing or are you expected to come out whenever needed, regardless of the time or day? Is it a mix where some days you're on the clock and others you're the one on-call? Do you get a certain amount of guaranteed time off per week/month/year? Do you have time to engage in hobbies/a second job/whatever?

solon668 karma

The schedule is pretty straight forward for us. But it's long hours. I work 6a-6p. The office is generally closed after that, but transport has keys and they deliver bodies 24 hours a day(I used to do that job). But I have been called out in the middle of the night for certain cases. There's no guarantee of time off, but they do the best they can to keep us happy. I do have time for hobbies, but not a lot. I do a lot of work at home, so my schedule is pretty tight.

bluefb3 karma

Would you say it's rougher than the time commitment you had when you were a paramedic? Though working at home does come with some benefits that are hard to quantify. Would you say this is something you see yourself doing for the next 10 years or so (career) or do you have plans for bigger and better things?

solon6610 karma

As a paramedic, I worked 24 on and 48 off. It worked out to ten days a month, roughly. But it played hell on my sleep schedule. This is easier in that respect. I actually want to be a writer. This is nice, and if I have to do it for a couple more decades then I won't be sorry. But I'd rather write novels. Not murder mysteries either. Or medical drama. I'm more into horror and comedy, and the combination of the two.

bluefb4 karma

That's awesome. I wish you the best of luck with the writing and I hope you get enough time each day to jot something down. Horror and comedy are the two genres I enjoy the most because I have no idea how they are written. Horror because at some point it seems to devolve into a gore-fest and the line between horror and shock-value seems impossible. Comedy because I can understand one-liners and puns, but somehow stringing them together into narratives seems just as impossible as knowing when how much eyeball juice coming out of your horror character's impaled eyeball is too much eyeball juice.

solon668 karma

It's never too much eyeball juice!

Seriously though... I understand the problem with horror being a gore fest. That's why I love guys like Lovecraft. Very little actual gore, but lots of insanity. As far as comedy goes, it tends to devolve into dick jokes the same way horror devolves. I like dark humor, so I'm trying to write a true horror story, but one that has that element of humor that you naturally find in life. Sometimes, we have to laugh at what scares us the most.

bluefb2 karma

"As the corpse's putrefying eyeballs succumbed under their own tremulous weight, ejaculating their juice across the room in great heaves and swells, our heroine began to wonder if perhaps more sinister forces were at work..."

I can see how your job can supply you with plenty of fodder for horror, but do you get a lot of humor as well? Is it mainly mortician humor you come across, or the ridiculous stuff like that guy who fireballed his car off the bridge?

solon666 karma

It's usually dark humor.

There was one guy... he was 83 years old, if I remember correctly. Decomp, about a week or so. When we got there, the police said they had just turned off his DVD player. It was on an endless loop. Playing porn. Tranny porn. He had hundreds of similar DVDs under his bed. His hand was still firmly gripped onto his... cock.

He wasn't the only one like that.

Another guy(and another decomp), was dead on his couch. Naked. Laptop computer in one hand, vacuum hose in the other. And more porn.

I'm truly shocked at the amount of people who die while masturbating.

excaka3 karma

i picked up a dude recently that was into erotic asphyxiation. dude was on his knees, hanging foward by his closet door knob with a belt with dick still in hand. he had so many dvd's of midget porn, it must have been every single one ever made haha.

solon661 karma


bluefb1 karma

Reminds me of a question a buddy asked everybody one night out. If you had to die, but could choose how you go, how would you die? People answered old age, quickly, painlessly, etc. Somebody finally flipped the question on him and his response was "sexual exhaustion." This...is almost like that.

solon662 karma

I'd rather not die. In all honesty, if I could be immortal, I would. Death is not pretty.

jinantonyx3 karma

In that very small genre, you should read John Dies at the End if you haven't already. So excellent.

solon661 karma

I own it but have yet to read it. I will try to make time.

hemingwayszombycorps3 karma

Be.honest, you miss closed head injuries, hypoglycemics and cocaine strains dont ya?

solon662 karma

I am hypoglycemic, so I don't miss that. I do miss actually preventing death, but to he honest, I don't miss the pressure of "don't let this person die".

claudiargh3 karma

Why does brain have that particular gross smell? Studying my bachelor of science and we've sat in on a few autopsies and anatomy demos, as well as a few dissections we've done, and I just find brain has an awful and dinstinct stench!

Spudzydudzy2 karma

A absolutely agree. I work in a wildlife pathology lab and brain has a totally unique smell! I guess that maybe it's just the type of tissue it's made up of.

solon661 karma

Of the smells I have to deal with, I don't see it as one of the truly bad ones. It's not a good smell, but I can manage it pretty well.

Spudzydudzy2 karma

No, it's not truly awful, but it is very distinct. I can immediately recognize it. "oh, I smell brain" is actually something that I get to say occasionally.

solon662 karma

Yeah it definitely can't be mistaken for anything else.

MsNerevarine3 karma

Are you religious, or scared of death? I feel like seeing dead people all the time would be a constant reminder of my own death to come and seriously mess with my mental stability. I do look at plenty of grotesque photos of death and the dying, but that's hardly the same thing as a cadaver.

solon663 karma

I'm a devout atheist. Seeing death all the time though... I don't know... I didn't used to think it bothered me that much. I hate being this far into it and second guessing myself. Yes, I'm scared to death of death. If they invented an immortality pill, I'd take fucking ten of them just to be sure.

MsNerevarine2 karma

Yeah, me too. It's hard to subscribe to "death makes life beautiful". I believe it does, but that doesn't mean I'm not scared. I imagine death being a lot like before birth, only once you have existed it may be a bit different. Energy never dies, and though you may not be a sentient being, everything you had going on goes somewhere, right? A cosmic consciousness, perhaps? Ah well, we came from dust and dust we shall become.

solon662 karma

I like the idea of energy never dying. It's one of those few non religious ideas that mitigates some of the fear of death.

gharrity2 karma

Great AMA! Thanks.

solon662 karma

I woke up to a full inbox. So, thank you guys!

allmadhere22 karma

This is my dream job. Weirdo here, I know. How do I get into this field? I am a medical professional now. I assume that helps.

solon662 karma

It does help. I don't know what part of the medical field you're in now, but just contact your local ME office and talk to them. Different places want different kinds of people. Some will want people with law enforcement backgrounds, some prefer investigators with mortuary experience. Ask around, there can never be too many people doing this job.

allmadhere23 karma

Thanks. Ive called every place within an hour drive of me. They all want me to take that course in St. Louis. Mecolegal death investigator. Did you do that?

solon662 karma

That's the one. I have a cousin who is a professional photographer that lives in St. Louis, so I was able to stay with her, which saved me a lot of trouble. There are other ways to go about it, if that's not a viable option for you. Just do research online and find what fits you best. Most state colleges and universities offer the proper courses. My office is located in a state college, so the college is big on this sort of training. Check out your local colleges and see what they have to offer. Good luck.

allmadhere22 karma

Again, thanks.

solon661 karma

Again, my pleasure

jb0nd383722 karma

Since nobody else has posted this.. Has anyone ever told you that you really resemble this guy?

solon661 karma

Son of a... I love Ron Pearlman! But no, I've never been told that. I had a co-worker who said I resemble the bad guy from the Stallone movie "Cobra", he was also the Buffalo Bill character in Joe Dirt. I used to get told I look like country singer Randy Travis too. I don't know. I guess it could be worse.

loghead112 karma

How true is 'The Wire' ?

solon662 karma

Couldn't tell you. I don't live in Baltimore. But they did have a convicted murderer playing, basically, herself. No matter how realistic a show or movie gets, you'll always find someone calling it bullshit. When I watch tv, I try to suspend my disbelief so that I can enjoy it. If I want real life, I'll go back to work. I want fake, fantastic, non realistic shit happening on tv. That's why I cracked open a beer and turned it on.

excaka3 karma

i love how some people get into this job because of shows like CSI. they always get in, and leave a short time after. once they find out its actual hard work! its funny to look at the new guys faces when we have to pick up a jumper?decomp.

solon662 karma

Or a guy that tried to stop a train with his head.

dumb_2 karma

How do you deal with the smell of death? How do you get it out of your nose?

I had some wet, rotten meat in my trash the other day that I swear I can still smell. It took everything to stop myself from vomiting, and it's like it's burned into my nostrils.

solon663 karma

It's weird. It's like it's constantly there, just beneath the surface of everything I smell. I'm just used to it I guess. It makes cooking food interesting.

rbaltimore2 karma

I worked for a forensic anthropologist who consulted for various medical examiners in the Eastern US, as well as the one who works for the FBI, and I always got to hear some crazy stories.

Got any crazy stories?

solon663 karma

I have a few. Most involve masturbation and tranny porn. Scroll up.

rbaltimore1 karma


solon662 karma


awan0012 karma

Hey man. No question, just wanted to say this is a great AMA. Thanks for doing it.

solon662 karma

I'm on a leave of absence, so I have the time. I wasn't going to do it, but a couple people on Reddit really wanted me to. It's been a pleasure.

awan0013 karma

Yea I was one of those that asked you in the other thread so, thanks.

solon661 karma

Well it's been nice.

dead_bodies2 karma

I wouldn't mind working with you; what would I need to do to become a M.E? (That is a medical examiner correct?)

solon661 karma

Scroll up, I covered that already. Get a BA/BS in a related field, generally something like biology or criminal science, or even psychology. Then either get some experience, preferably working with dead bodies, or get certified by the board of medico-legal death investigators. After that, get your M.D. and you're on your way. I'm not the ME, so I don't plan on going that far.

dead_bodies2 karma

Ohhh you are the investigator I totally forgot haha. Thanks man, if you do not mind me asking how much did that cost you for college? I know it probably varies from college to college but a rough guess/estimation would be appreciated.

solon662 karma

You really don't want to know what I paid(or what I'm still paying). Just hit up Google. There are some really good courses that are affordable. I didn't know about these when I went. I've seen some places where the courses are reimbursed by different law enforcement or forensic agencies, I'm guessing they force you into a contract to work for them afterwards, I don't know.

dead_bodies2 karma

I know there is a company around here for HVAC its called (insert name of my town) Housing Authority, and they pay you to go to college and they pay for you college for HVAC, I had took a semester of HVAC but I couldnt finish paying for it cause I couldnt afford to keep going to college and I had to stop. One of the guys in my class was/is working for that company and that is what he told me, he even offered to pay for my college tuition and books so I could finish it but I could not let him do that and keep a clean conscience about it.

solon662 karma

Take the offer! Just pay him back by being a good friend and maybe helping him out when he needs it. It's so rare for someone to have that kind of an opportunity, passing it up is not the course of action I'd recommend. He may end up opening up his own company. Guess who he would want to hire? At least talk to him and find out what you can do as far as paying him back. It doesn't cost your anything to talk.

ArmenianG1 karma

Is it anything like "Crossing Jordan" don't mean to undermine your job.

solon663 karma

I actually liked that show. But no, it's never as highly funded as on tv, and there's a lot less sexy people(except lawyers... holy crap... where I live, it's a ton of amazingly gorgeous female lawyers... it's like being in hell, but with hot chicks)

brownboy131 karma

Those pictures don't really prove anything.

solon666 karma

solon662 karma

You're right. I just thought I'd throw them up so people had an idea of who they were asking questions to. Go to /WTF and you'll see my dead body pictures.

dead_bodies3 karma

I sent you a pm on what to do if/when the admins come at you with pitchforks, not sure if my information was correct or not. I am just going off what I have seen in other AMA's; I actually came out of lurker status to ask you questions after I saw your picture then noticed you started an AMA.

brownboy132 karma

Admins don't really come in until someone posts personal info or CP or something of that order.

solon661 karma

I won't be posting any of either. Sorry u didn't see your message sooner.

solon661 karma

Ok. Wasn't aware of how things were done.

dead_bodies3 karma

I'm still learning how to reddit; it appears to be tricky business.

solon663 karma

No kidding. Serious business too, apparently.

small_fry322 karma

Your username is so relavent

solon661 karma

How do you figure?

EDIT - duh. You weren't even talking to me. And I replied late.