Friday, October 29, 2010

Blood: Training Blues

Over the phone, the regional director for the plasma center sounded nervous, like she expected me to start ranting and raging. It might have been a tough week for her. If what had happened at the plasma center I visit was a nationwide issue, if they were all doing trainings and hadn't told their donors, she might have had several unpleasant phone calls in the past few days.

I spend a lot of time on the phone and on more than one occasion, I've worked for companies, where it was my job to field ugly phone calls. I don't flip out, not usually.

"As I understand it, they didn't have signage?" She asked me.

"No, they had signs," I explained. "The sign said closed Monday. It was Tuesday. We were told the plasma center would be closed on Monday for training. No one said anything about being closed for the week."

"Uh-huh," she said.

"There were a couple of us in the parking lot," I told her. "The guy who called inside the first time had driven quite a ways. He was pretty pissed off." I wasn't particularly happy about it either. "I called and they told me about the training."

"I'm really sorry this happened to you," she said and I smiled. It happened to me because I'm unlucky, not because it's anyone's fault, say like the plasma center for not knowing what the fuck is going on or the plasma company for maybe not telling them. "We value you as a donor. We need to get you in as soon as is convenient for you. When can you come in?"

It was Friday afternoon. I had shit to do, including lunch and writing up my article on Amy Grant.

"My regular donation times are Tuesday and Saturday," I told her. "How about if I just show up tomorrow?"

"What time?" She asked.

"Let's say 10:30. That's when I usually come in."

While this was clearly no fault of theirs, she told me, "I'd like to compensate you for the time lost, the inconvenience and of course, your travel. How about an extra ten bucks?"

I rolled my eyes: An extra ten bucks, which is what I'd normally get paid for my second donation --never mind the bonus for coming in twice a week all month. Their generosity was overwhelming. I thought I was going to cry.

"Would that be okay?"

I didn't want to argue so I said, "Fine."

Before she hung up, she confirmed the time and wished me a good weekend.

Saturday morning, I went to the plasma center. The parking lot was hopping and for a second I thought, the whole business about scheduling an appointment was much to do about nothing, but there was a sign on the door: "Training. By appointment only."

Inside, a handful of donors waited to be called, while a couple of newbies flipped through the white manuals everybody has to read just once.

The girl at the desk called, "Have you got an appointment?"

I smiled. "Sure, do. " Lucky thing, too.

One of the technicians remembered me, smiled and waved.

"What time?" The girl at the desk asked.


A wrinkle formed over her brow.


"William Lynch."

She looked, frowned, looked some more, shook her head, turned the page, looked again. One of the others looked over her shoulder.

"He's not there," she told her, then me. "Who did you speak to?"

I gave her the name, adding she was from corporate. The name didn't seem to mean anything to either of them. They looked at the list. There were a lot of names. Two were plugged in at 10:30.

"If X and Y don't come in," the one said to the other. "We could squeeze him in."

"But X is here already." And Y, they seemed to think, would be there.

"You could have a seat and we'll get to you when we can."

"How long would that be?"

Neither of them knew.

"I can't be here all day." I just wanted a ballpark number: fifteen minutes, half an hour, an hour...

They didn't know. It would be a while.

"Will things be back to normal on Tuesday?" I asked.

"By Monday." The one girl fired that piece of information off like a shot. Everybody hates training.

I nodded. Fuck Monday. I am not coming back in on Monday.

"Yes," I said. "But I come in on Tuesday. Will this place be back to normal on Tuesday."

"Oh sure."

"Right, then I'll be back on Tuesday. " Then I turned and went home.

No comments: