Days can bring unplanned things.

Today, my investigator at the morgue didn’t have the mandible–the jaw part of the skull I needed to reconstruct–ready for me to work on. I need the maxilla (the main part of the skull, from top of the head to top teeth) and the mandible. I was kind of let down, because I had taken off from work, done an hour’s drive each way, and would have to make up the time later in the week. But, I was still happy to be down there, even if it was only to fill out my paperwork with evidence from the doctors’ report. I looked over the dental records, x-rays of the teeth, toxicology, clues as to who this man was, and watched more bodies being checked in to the morgue. There was a lot of activity there. I felt kind of useless though.

As the investigators and other staff helped me with my case, and worked on others, I wrapped up my paperwork–something I would not need to do now, when I went down in a few days to do the actual reconstruction. I went to find the investigator, who was giving a tour of the morgue to some high school kids. What happened next was an impromptu little speech on what I do as a forensic artist, how I got started and what kinds of forensic art there are.

It wasn’t a huge day of adventure or a massive event, but it was an interesting turn in the day, and it was fun telling the kids about a career they may never have heard of. Chances are, with shows like CSI and Criminal Minds, they probably have heard of forensic art.

After that, I asked one of the other investigators if I could see how she was getting the flesh off of the jaw I needed. Now, I’ve never tossed my cookies in the morgue, neither here nor in Ft. Lauderdale, but when I saw that jaw and the entire body she had boiling in a bigger pot elsewhere, and smelled it, I got a little queasy. She saw me step away and said, ‘Uh oh.’ I said, ‘No, I’m ok, but I think it’s time to go,’ and laughed it off. I guess everyone has their limits. And I was pretty glad the FBI told us in our class not to be the ones to deflesh skulls, and to leave that to the docs and investigators. So glad.

After leaving the morgue, I went to get a Starbucks and ended up getting the store to donate a Very Berry drink for a homeless woman I had spoken to outside. I would have paid for it, but I wanted to see if they would do it. They did, and they also made me an extra iced Americano, by mistake. Pretty cool. So I got to talk to the woman, a 19-year old homeless girl who was sick with a cold, and gave her some first aid stuff and tea from my little purse ‘survival pack’. That little pack comes in handy again!

So, all in all, a cool day. No huge revelations. No life lessons; except maybe to let the day unfold as it wants to.

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