I have been on the job since mid-way through June and I have yet to see a body.
My landlord, Carl, was a correspondent in the same territory I have maybe ten years ago now. Driving back from a charity softball game in Manchester a couple of weeks ago we got to talking about the ins and outs of the job.
"Have you seen a body yet?" he asked.
"No," I said. "Been to a couple of accidents, a house fire and a home declared unsanitary, but I haven't seen a body."
"You will," he said.
He has tossed me a couple of war stories from his days before he moved over to the Internet and working on print journalism from the other side. He said he once stood out in the cold during the middle of winter to take photographs of police carting off a homicide victim. Before that he helped EMT's work around a car accident, setting up a stretcher for them to haul a victim away from the scene.
Today I ended up on Interstate 93 northbound, just before the Cluff Crossing bridge and before Exit 1 in New Hampshire. A van had rear ended a truck hard enough that the emergency responders had to use the Jaws of Life. I got there just as the helicopter was lifting off, bound for a hospital some eighty miles south in Boston.
If you've never seen a helicopter take off from a highway with the sun setting behind, the red and blue lights of emergency vehicles flashing behind it, kicking up the dirt and dust nearby roadwork...it's a sight.
I still haven't seen a body yet and I know it's only a matter of time, really. I'm not quite sure how I'll react. There are times when I worry I'll get freaked out or end up vomiting on myself, but more often than not I'm afraid it won't do anything for me. It'll just be another story rolling past in a body bag.