I have had various odd jobs in my life (particularly in the years before graduating from college). One of the most interesting jobs I had was related to the position I had teaching Anatomy labs (using cadavers) to undergraduates while in graduate school. Cadavers were typically used for one academic year (two semesters), then they were cremated and the ashes returned with a heartfelt thanks to the family for allowing students to learn over the previous year. At the end of the school year, one of the grad students would be offered the job of cremating the cadavers.

I was offered the job of cremating the cadavers at the end of the school year – I was offered something like $400 to cremate 10 cadavers. Essentially, I would take a hack saw and saw up the cadavers into pieces that would fit into the furnace, then place them into the furnace and turn it on. The next morning I would open the furnace and sweep up the ashes and put them into a box removing any medical equipment (e.g., artificial hips, etc.). So for 10 consecutive evenings I would prep the cadavers, then take them to the basement of the life sciences building and incinerate them. It was a strangely spiritual experience. I was cremating the mortal remains of individuals whom I did not know (we did not even know their names or where they were from), yet I felt a peaceful spirit while prepping the cadavers (one of the few times in my life where I felt a connection to a deceased person whom I did not know). I think I had developed a tremendous respect for these people’s bodies (and for the souls who had thought it worthwhile to donate their bodies to science) given I had poked and prodded them for a year with my students. It was also an experience which made me realize how fragile our bodies and lives are. I think it was a wonderful experience (note: I realize not everyone would find this a spiritual or interesting experience) and certainly one of those odd jobs that few people ever have. Anyone else have odd jobs that turned into spiritual experiences?