Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blood: Half-Shell

The process is pretty much the same every time. You go in, you check in through one of the self-serve computer terminals and play the plasma center's game of twenty questions.

Hint: If you want to donate (sell) plasma, you have to say you haven't been to Haiti, used IV drugs or had your salad tossed (even once) if you're a guy. However, I'm starting to think the who being in jail thing might not immediately disqualify you. I think it only does if the jail was in Haiti, you were arrested while shooting up or if you and your cellmate were in the process of picking out china patterns when you were released.

Anyway, after the information is given, everybody sits around and waits for their name to be called. Having access to cable television is nice, but nobody wants to spend a long morning catching up on the slick cops and robbers shows of the last ten years.

The next step is the health screening. For no cost to you whatsoever, you're weighed and measured. They check your weight, your blood pressure, your blood's iron content, etc... You can also chat up the attendant, because they're, to a man, bored out of their fucking socks --and dear God, it's only 9 in the morning... (cue the sound of a whip in the background and the distant screams of the damned)

So far, I've talked to the attendants about my job, which might have been cause for some concern I'd have thought, but apparently wasn't. As usual, they wanted to know why no decent bands ever play in Charleston. I tell them the truth. It's not my fault.

Of the parts of the process, I sort of look forward to the health screening because it's kind of weird. I never know what we're going to talk about. I've discussed the mystical importance of dragonflies, talked about the pros and cons of fish sandwiches and even the purpose of the tests being performed on me.

This morning, we talked about the attendant's shirt.

"Hey, the Ninja Turtles," I said. "I love the Ninja Turtles."

She looked at me and smiled, wearily. It was possible, she'd already heard this today and may not have believed me. The t-shirt was tight. The woman was amply endowed and the old turtles were in 3-d.

"I've got a four year-old," I explained. "We watched a couple of the movies a few weekends ago. I got them at the library."

It, apparently, was the exact right thing to say.

"Yeah," she said. "I never liked the cartoon turtles, but I really liked the movies." She shrugged. "I've got a three-year old."

She nodded, took the blood, then fished around the desk for a blood pressure cuff.

"I can't believe how hot it is in here."

I shrugged. The air conditioning was cranked up. Any higher and I'd be able to see my breath.

"It's probably because of the." I pointed at the cotton mesh white jacket thing she was wearing over her t-shirt.

She nodded and took my limp, relaxed arm and pulled it toward her. As she slipped a cuff around my bicep, by accident, my fingertips, then fingers and finally the palm of my hand went right under a pretty firm ninja turtle.

My first thought: Oh shit. This could go badly. If I move or say anything to bring attention to the fact my hand is pressed against Donatello (or it might have been Raphael --which one has the ninja knives?), she will scream. I might get arrested. At the very least, I might get tossed from the building and maybe told to never come back.

I needed the money and will continue to need the money for some time to come, so I kept my big trap shut and tried to remain calm, very calm.

"Yeah," she said and looked at the mesh smock. "It could be that."

She held my arm, with my hand under her right breast.

"I don't think this cuff is going to work."

I nodded. They usually have to use the larger cuff. I sort of have guns these days. It's kind of cool and I might have told her, if my hand wasn't noticeably mashed against a pop culture icon painted on her shirt.

She slipped the regular size cuff from my arm, turned and picked up another cuff, the proceeded to put my hand back under a different turtle, while she affixed the larger cuff.

I did not smile. I did not frown. I did nothing but stare blandly ahead.

After she got the machine rolling, she moved, released my hand and I relaxed a little, which probably did wonders for my blood pressure, not to mention my peace of mind.

It's kind of funny. This sort of thing used to happen from time to time when I was younger, when I was twenty and a strapping, if not entirely handsome, guy. There were a couple of hairdressers who seemed to like pressing their chest into my neck, my ears, my forehead whenever they cut my hair.

I know getting your hair cut can involve pretty close quarters, but give that I tended to prefer clipper cuts, I'm at a loss to explain why the rubbing unless they had flippers for arms (which I would have noticed --probably).

I don't know --the timing, with turning 40 --seemed odd. It was a weird and made me think of who and where I was 20 years ago. Back then, I'd have probably tacked another dollar onto the tip. This time around, I was sent on my way after she was done. I went to the back to bleed for my wages, which I used to buy pork chops (manager's special $6.66, but more with tax) and a lottery ticket.

The rest I donated to my wife. She'd been talking about getting her hair cut at the mall for a couple of days.


Corey Lake said...

Some days are better than others my friend. Me? This is the time of year, usually, that I solicit a similar service from a nice girl working her way through college one dollar at a time. Life threw you a freebie because you're a good person. It may say something about me that I am unable to collect my normal Father's Day gift this year.

Anonymous said...

GREAT blog! Another gem that needs to go into a book.