These Red Cross people just wouldn’t stop calling so I decided to try giving them the platelets. Somehow I ended up on the phone with the guy again and that PUN ALERT prick said “Well we’re just tickled pink you’ve decided to give your platelets and we’ll see you in the morning!” That should have been my first warning.
I was mentally preparing that night with the emails and pre-registration and all that shit and the stakes were raised: hemoglobin requirement for males is now 13.8. Because war on women.
Parking in the center at the mall I had to wade through the chain-smoking employees on break and into their little suite lined with “no smoking” signs. The piece of shit ahead of me in line was using a cell phone but I eventually got to the sign in process. As usual with them blood drives the cell phone guy was now behind a small partition with the history lady who checks your arms for IV track marks, sort of like Catholic confession only (also typical) I could hear everything they were saying over the low-volume Marvin Gaye music.
“DO YOU REMEMBER THE NIGHT YOU CONCEIVED??” the history lady was saying.
“YES WE WERE INTIMATE FROM AUGUST THROUGH NOVEMBER SO SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THERE,” the cell phone guy blabbed. I couldn’t understand why it mattered when a male donor had last ejaculated, but then speculated maybe this was incidental convo and they were friends outside of the blood-drawing enterprise.
Finally I got back there and I realized the stress ball that’s shaped like a grenade is actually a propane tank, it just had the logo rubbed off at previous drives. The propane sponsor of blood drawing is not Strickland Propane.
The lady brought out the needle for the moment of truth. 12.0.
“I’m going to type up a letter…actually no, that would be awful. I’m going to give you some pre-printed reading material on how you were anemic today and what you can do to contribute in the future,” she assured me. I also got a fistful of Dunkin’ Donuts coupons as a consolation prize.
“They’re about to expire,” she explained. And here I thought she was helping me down the road to obesity because of my emasculating future as an anemic.
Well eating all them donuts must have helped. I rolled into the hospital for a regular blood draw the following week. Sprinting across the parking lot, I stumbled into line at 2:35 for my 2:30 appointment.
“Did you have trouble parking?” the volunteer working the desk demanded. She was 90 years old and had to use a walker to escort me to death row where you sit and avoid eye contact with the other donors.
“Well I had to walk a little way,” I explained.
“That always takes time too, doesn’t it?” she sniffed. I had a feeling it was not a rhetorical question but her days were so numbered I let her go back to register the next beefy donor. She took a swig from her water bottle that had its own little cup holder on the walker and did offer me a drink, which I declined.
This particular blood drive was just like the gym: the only song they had was that “Bruno” song “Up Town Fuck You Up.” It really set the mood.
I was the only donor under the age of 60. Good thing we were in a hospital in case this went south. There’s always a basic woman in see-through tights who has to get a wet cloth on her forehead and additional medical attention.
In the little partition where you tell them about your sexual history, my blood pressure was 98/60. Somehow that didn’t raise any alarms.
Then came the hemoglobin test. 14.2!
I got on the butcher table and the radio went off the Bruno “music” and a commercial came on. “DO YOU WANT A LOW STRESS JOB WITHOUT OBNOXIOUS BOSSES??”
Every Red Cross employee in the room looked up and said “YES!!!”
The commercial said, “YOU’LL BE HAPPY TO GO TO WORK AS A MASSAGE THERAPIST!!”
This employee for the next shift stumbled in. Based on his wet crocs it was now raining outside. He sat down in the corner, jammed in his earbuds and started chugging Ocean Spray “cranberry juice cocktail” because he was menstruating.
A new donor came in. Like everyone else in the room, he was old and fat. “Last time it felt like a splinter, so I took some sleeping pills,” he told our ancient registration volunteer.
“Are you sure you want to donate today?” she chirped in that judgemental voice.
He gulped and gasped. “Oh, yeah.”