Name: Kurt Hemmings
Salary: $35,000 per annum
Occupation: Autopsy attendant/pathology assistant.
Bio: This stylish Plateau resident started his career at the Montreal General Hospital as a lab technician who longed to be chopping up bodies in the autopsy room across the hall. His superiors, cognizant of the fact that Kurt was spending all of his free time loitering around the corpses, recognized his potential and eventually offered to train him for the position of autopsy attendant. Should you ever find yourself at the General having a tonsil, breast or testicle removed, there is an excellent chance it will be Kurt who slices it up downstairs in the lab a few hours later–just to make sure that everything turned out kosher. He says that since starting the job he is less jumpy and no longer afraid of the dark.
Something that can make him a little uncomfortable: Carving up people he knew–like recently deceased co-workers, neighbours or old friends. “It doesn’t happen that often but it still happens. I draw the line at family members.”
Does the autopsy room smell bad? Sometimes. “It can smell of shit or really rotten meat. Especially when the freezer is on defrost cycle or on really hot days when it decides to shut down completely.”
Has he ever eaten his lunch in the autopsy room beside a gutted corpse? Many, many times. And hospital cafeteria food, no less.
Has a corpse ever suddenly sat up on the table and asked him to stop tickling it? Not yet.
On necrophiliacs working in the biz: “I don’t think there are too many but there is one story going around about an orderly in one of the local hospitals who was caught jerking off by a body in the autopsy room. I’m not sure if it’s true or not. Most people are pretty respectful around here. People tend to lose their sexual appeal once they’re dead, you know.”
Does he find that male cadavers with rigor mortis are generally sporting erections? No, not that he has seen.
During sex does he have trouble forgetting about what his partner’s genitals might look like severed, diced and spread out on his work table? No.
Something else he does: Teaches swing dancing at at his dance school on Mont-Royal E., Swing Express.
Something he likes doing: Playing and collecting vintage guitars. He’s rumoured to play a mean banjo as well. He also collects vintage clothes, cameras, furniture etc.
Childhood ambition: To become a doctor. “Now I get to play surgeon for real, albeit a little after the fact.”
Literary preferences: Pulp fiction.
Musical preferences: Muddy Waters, T-bone Walker, jazz, blues.
One film he really likes: Kurt is a big fan of all of Jacques Tati’s work but says Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot stands out among his favourites.
Words of wisdom: “Enjoy life while you can. I’ve seen way too many instances where one minute someone is doing fine and the next thing you know they are spread out on my table.”
Originally posted in the Montreal Mirror, 2001