The volunteer leader of our local blood drive this week recruited me to donate blood. Although I know in my heart that giving blood is a true sign of selflessness and citizenship, a failed college experiment I call “Plasma my way to Mexico” has caused me to try to earn these citizenship points with acts like buying Girl Scout cookies and stopping at the crosswalk.
But I decided to give it a go again. I made my appointment for 4 p.m. When I arrived at Podunk City Hall turned Red Cross Blood Lab, my recruiter asked me promisingly, “Wow, do you have a lot of time?” I knew that selflessness and citizenship required me to say that I did. I offered to walk around Podunk and do some errands and come back and see if they were ready for me. A half hour later, I returned. “Better now?” I asked. The volunteer next to my recruiter shook her head wildly no, but my recruiter insisted yes and I sat down in the hall.
Within a few minutes, the recruiter told me seats were opening up right and left and invited me into the Inner Sanctum. She sat me at the back of the real waiting line, where you wait to go into the Interrogation Room, and then you can wait for a Lawn Chair of Dripping Blood.
After a lengthy wait in the Inner Sanctum, I made it to the Interrogation Room. This is where they try to get you to admit that you have AIDS and Mad Cow Disease simultaneously. I know from a recent life insurance health exam that the right answer to everything is No. And I did that for almost everything. Have you been out of the U.S. or Canada in the past year? No, don’t you read my blog? I travel to Havre, Montana. Were you in the U.K. between 1980 – 1996? No. Have you ever eaten a cookie but called it a biscuit? No. Have you had bovine sex with a partner who has Mad Cow Disease? No. But I had to answer yes to 2 questions. Yes, I worked for the military between 1980-1996 and yes, I had given birth to children. So they sent in the enforcer to try to get me to admit that during my stint with the U.S. military I really did travel to the United Kingdom during the years 1980-1996 AND that my children both had Mad Cow Disease. I should have just confessed and been done with it.
But I didn’t, and more than an hour later I made it to the Lawn Chair of Dripping Blood. The nurse helped me realize that in the interrogation room what they should have been asking me is “Do you have veins with blood in them?” The nurse, whom for confidentiality sake I will call Cruella, took one look at my arms and scoffed that my veins were smaller than the needle that was supposed to go in them. Before I had time to process that information, she said pluckily, “But I’m game if you’re game.” Again, in hindsight, I should have declared that I was not game in the least and would continue seeking citizenship points by stopping at crosswalks. Instead, I looked away while Cruella, who had obviously just come from a fracking gig in North Dakota, explored my arm for veins. According to her, not only are my veins small but their walls have a tough hide. Finally, she announced, “We’re in.”
Unlike my neighbors in the land of Lawn Chairs, my blood did not flow gravitationally toward the bag, willingly contributing to our nation’s blood supply. Rather it protested drip by drip. Cruella looked disgusted. “That’s what I thought,” she said, sort of under her breath. “You are going to time out,” she told me. Shit, I said quietly under my own breath, I feel like I have already been in time out. She explained that the machine only gives me a certain amount of time to contribute my blood unit, and at my current rate, I would be done by the next leap year. Mercifully, she yanked the needle out of my petite vein, and proceeded to hold a plastic water bottle up as my Dripping Blood neighbors looked on.
“This is water. Your body needs it. Your blood needs it. You should drink water.” And she wrapped up the bag with the smallish amount of sludgy blood in it. “We won’t be able to use this so don’t worry about counting it on your card.”
I promised Cruella I wouldn’t.
I am currently planning a trip to England’s countryside, where I plan to come in contact with — although not romantically — many cows.