Dirty Jobs and the Bigger Picture

Have you ever wondered what happens after CSI leave a crime scene? Or how animal researchers feel about euthanizing their animals? This story is about my experience with dirty jobs, specifically crime scene clean up and animal neurobiology research.  

Getting used to crime scene clean-up was a strange experience. We didn’t solve crimes, and we didn’t get thanks from the family. We were the ghosts erasing tragedy from the world. Many images from this job still follow me in my day to day life. At first I had to struggle to understand why I should get used to seeing such a gruesome side of human beings. In the end, this experience has made me a person with less fear.

In memory and addiction neurobiology research we spend months with our rats. They eat Froot Loops and run through mazes, we care for them. We also give them brain lesions and eventually euthanize them. Euthanizing the animals was very difficult for me at first, it made me question whether or not it’s ok to get used to ending lives. But when I do this job I know the rats are well cared for and appreciated. In the end, they are helping to save lives.

These topics can take many directions; the one I would like focus on is the importance of the bigger picture. The bigger picture is what got me through the tough stuff.  If we don’t remove the brain, we wouldn’t be able to learn about diseases and behavior on a level that helps to find cures. If we didn’t clean up crime scenes then families and friends would be left to the traumatizing task of finding a body part, picking bone fragments out of the couch, or removing blood soaked carpet.

No matter what we come across in life, there is always a bigger picture to consider. If you are stuck with a dirty job, remember that the people of the world appreciate what you do more than they might express.