GCSPrank Is Here

For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Blood Will Tell

Ask 100 people who knew me before I entered college what the odds were that I would volunteer to help others by doing menial tasks and 100 would have said “No way.” It would have been unanimous even if you included me in those 100.

As with so many things with GCSPrank, I don’t know how I happened to volunteer for the Red Cross blood drives. I guess I walked up to to some nurse-looking person and said I wanted to help and they pointed me to a table. Most of the time I handed out bags, taking down a person’s name, verifying they had received a check-up and getting their signature. Not exactly rocket science, nor beaming spotlight.

I did try to leaven the moment with humor, using the poetic “Proceed to bleed” as a send-off, often countered by guys with “Drain a vein” and by women with blanching. Worst moment: A young lady whose name was “Toy” receiving a distracted “When I was a kid I loved playing with toys” from me. Her response was a disgusted “I know,” and I was left feeling like the gum on the sole of a dirty sneaker.

At other times, I would handle the blood bags, stripping and sealing them. Unlike the other volunteers who passed the blood-filled bags around like water balloons, I was always very conscious that I was holding an essence of life. Pointing out the level of activity to Don, he said with admirable acuity: “This shows the level of civilization we have achieved, that this is so routine.” I wish I’d said it first.

But nevertheless, stripping and sealing was a job a well-trained monkey could do. No matter: I did it anyway.

The best part was sharing the time with Don and Bill. Don, usually in charge of the snacks, received the putdown of “Bartender” from me. When I handed out bags, he put me down with “Paper Pusher.” But the real character was Bill, who volunteered according to his own standard. With amazing skill, he would pick out the nervous belle—the nervous pretty belle—and shepherd her through the entire process, a Southern gentleman of the old school. If at any point any other comely maiden suffered the vapors or just barely hinted at a moment of weakness, Gentleman Bill would immediately beam over to her side and offer courtly comfort.

I once told Bill he’d run through an ugly woman to reach a pretty one and he replied “Yeah, wouldn’t you?”

Uh, no. But I wish I could.

I also donated blood, sometimes too often and with too much vim. Once I was sharing a head-to-head table with a very nervous guy. The nurse, who knew me from previous blood drives, told me to turn my head and I said “I don’t mind. I like seeing the needle penetrate my arm.” We heard a brief groan, not mine. She rolled away behind me, then rolled back. Flipping a thumb over at the other guy, she said “He fainted.”

Definitely no Bill to his rescue.


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