commercial scrubbing machinesMy partner Wilson has one of the creepiest jobs in the world. He’s a cleaner for a biohazard remediation company. Basically what he does is crime scene clean up. It sounds like a very obscure job but is actually quite vital. Wilson has cleaned up scenes such as a shoot-out and double homicide, an industrial accident at a sawmill, and a hoarder house whose occupant lay decaying for months before anyone noticed. Many of the accidents are tragic, and reading about them in the paper is nowhere near as poignant as witnessing the aftermath in the flesh. Wilson often comes home emotionally frail, the horror of what he’s seen visible in the lines of his perturbed eyes.

The business is quite lucrative – but that’s a small prize for such traumatic work. You’d hardly expect how many disasters happen in the suburbs of quiet old Brisbane. Murders you never thought humanly possible; houses steadily packed with rubbish over the course of decades, swarming with ants, ticks and cockroaches; even corners of the city infested with the waste of disease-ridden rodents. Cleaners like my partner have to wear a hazmat suits and use equipment like a highly potent disinfectant and a commercial floor scrubber. Brisbane laws require these sterilising agents to make formerly hazardous area safe for humans again. It’s freaky how well they can transform a place to disguise what took place there – from removing a dead cat stain from the asphalt to making a housing unit habitable after years of being filled with filth. I picture myself walking into our next apartment, seeing a normal clean domicile while knowing that someone could have died there and we wouldn’t even know, their putrefaction long extracted from the floorboards into which it had seeped. It’s disturbing how good a job those commercial scrubbing machines can do.

It’s a hard life for someone in the biohazard remediation business. Wilson comes home with no appetite and I have to make him a hot cup of tea to soothe away the day. I wonder how long he’ll last before it all just gets too much.