Digging for Gold in Corpses

If you cremate a body with its gold fillings in place, the gold evaporates and disappears. So firms hire a professional dentist to remove the teeth and either return the gold to the family, or donate them to charity.

The funeral company I work for run a little scam. When a permanent visitor is taken into our care, we ask permission from the family to remove any gold that is present. A professional dentist, however usually costs more than what the metal is worth. My boss had the great idea not to tell the family, and get me to do it instead. I am not a dentist.

The gold isn’t worth too much, but it’s still money. You have to be careful with the open caskets, make sure you don’t break their jaw, or any other bone in their skull. If anything does go wrong, you need to rely on the cosmetics the other employees can conjure up to hide the destruction inflicted. They do an amazing job, and even when they cannot cover it up perfectly, no one complains. It’s usually the first time they have seen their loved one in this condition.

I’m anything but graceful. Trying to remove teeth from a corpse is harder than you’d think, especially when you’ve had no training.

I take my pliers and rip out the molars with as much care as you’d expect from a bulldozer. Every now and again you hit the jackpot and there are full teeth made of gold to harvest. I have to admit it, I do get excited when I see a set of front teeth completely fashioned from that gorgeous yellow metal, and they come out easily.

Once the mouth is sewn shut, no-one is the wiser.

It’s been so successful that my boss made me train someone else to do it. That training consisted of: put the pliers here, grip down hard, and pull. There is no blood, but the crack can send shivers down your spine.

The boss has now advertised me as a professional dentist. When we get calls from people wanting procedures on the living, we say we are booked up and apologise. However, when it’s on behalf of the dead, I go to the funeral home, or in some instances the crematorium. We charge just as much as a professional, and also get to keep the gold. We promise we’ll give it to charity if that’s their wish, but they never check. No one questions the qualifications of someone removing teeth from a corpse. It works perfectly.

I do have issues doing this “on site” as it were. You walk past all the mourners, the deceased’s family and friends, though it does get easier, maybe too easy. I usually meet them as they have gently descended from the church or crematorium. I wait until the casket is wheeled over to an area called the “waiting room”. The other employees are happy to leave when I do my work. I wouldn’t have it any other way, if they did watch, there is a chance they would work out I wasn’t a professional.

What made me tell this story is that last week, I did exactly what I’ve mentioned. I removed the teeth when I was in the waiting room and then wheeled the casket out. Someone came up to me, obviously very annoyed. I was nervous I had finally been found out. I had not prepared for this, I didn’t expect it to happen.

“Do you know her age?” the man asked me.

“I’m sorry?” I said confused.

He showed me the paperwork he had and said that the age wasn’t filled out. I asked him why that was important and he cursed.

“I think she was in her early twenties,” I said, remembering her face.

“Are you sure?” he asked seriously.

“I’m quite sure, she definitely wasn’t in her thirties.”

“Thank you,” he said as he pushed her off into a small room on the left.

I was confused, I’d been here many times and the cremation room was to the right. I took out my phone and pretended to be busy.

Thirty minutes passed and I didn’t know if they would ask why I was still down here. I should have left as soon as I removed the teeth. The casket emerged and was wheeled into the room I initially expected them to take it.

With a curiosity that could get me into trouble, I couldn’t help myself, I entered the small room to the left. It was empty except for a small white chest. I opened it.

Dozens of plastic bags held meat, a standard British nutrition label was affixed on each – Pork 450g, Pork 125g, Pork 300g, as well as a short code written in permanent marker, “M 23”, “F 27”, “M 19”, “F 29?”. I knew exactly what they were. I hit myself on the head. Why hadn’t we thought of that!

I left the building excitedly. I had a new scam for my boss. In for a penny, in for a pound.

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