Call Before You Stab

- 4

In a world full of money making schemes, a few basics rise to the top (according to the interwebs, and we have established the flawlessness of this method, no?). Listed towards the top, actually, is blogging… Step One: produce excellent content.

Oh. Drat. Well, moving on.

I have driven by plasma donation centers for years and always thought, my, how creepy that selling your guts is legal. Well, some of your guts. Apparently it is still frowned upon to stand on street corners marketing your kidney to the highest bidder. Talk about inconsistent. But as my mind turned to raising root canal money (since apparently it actually costs more for me to just brick him across the jaw in his sleep and get him fitted with dentures. I checked), I decided to see if it was nothing more than a blood-sucking gimmick, or if it could be steady stream of income (I will now pause for pun appreciation).

There is a well-known, seemingly reputable plasma donation center within a few miles of Feodora, so when my husband returned home from work last night, I set the people up with dinner and betook myself to one of those sketchy-looking abandoned strip malls with signs boasting that once upon a time there was more than just 8 speed bumps and 3 stop signs in a 500 foot period — there had also been a Goodwill. You really haven’t seen depressing until you have seen a giant deserted Goodwill with the sign pried off the front, and then voluntarily choose to enter the door right next to it in order to sell your blood to the first person with a needle and a lab coat (in this part of town, it is very important that you do not skip that second step, as you are likely to encounter quite a few people standing around with needles).

The facility was clean and well-lit, and was a mecca of propaganda. Based on the posters, I saved something like 95 toddlers’ lives just by walking through the front door. The employees had the look of frazzle about them indicative of a 12 hour work day and insufficient smoke breaks, and after checking my 3 forms of identification, thrust a pair of earbuds at me and waved nonchalantly at a computer in the corner. Someone figured out that nobody actually reads lengthy consent forms and that when cash is involved, you can consign them to sit and watch a 20 minute video detailing things about plasmapheresis that absolutely nobody wants to know. Not born yesterday, that Someone.

Upon finishing my video, I was again waved elsewhere, told to wait in screening room 8. Which I did. For 30 minutes. Thankfully, I had followed the online instructions for once and brought a book, so my time with Master Wodehouse and the tales he spun about the inmates of Blandings Castle was pleasantly spent until a tall, dark-haired Russian woman with the most outrageously blinding neon green Crocs I have ever seen, bearing a nametag that read “Olena”, entered the room.

The screening was not entirely what I expected. She had a lovely, very nearly intelligible Eastern European accent and proceeded to ask me for the details of every single tattoo (side note: in the world of ink, there comes a point when you stop counting individual tattoos and start counting hours. There also can come a time when, upon being asked how many tattoos you have, the honest answer has to be — one). She looked rather daunted at the task, scanning my person the way one might scan a gigantic piece of cake, trying to decide where it makes best sense to begin. I had assumed that it would be sufficient to note that I had the tattoos, and that they were not recent, but apparently not (and I promise, this is actually quite important to the punchline of this story. I am not merely looking for an excuse to talk about my ink — that will be in a later post), and after asking me to spell the words on the “first” tattoo, and the two of us fumbling through language barriers and attempts to classify just what exactly I would call my art (um, pretty?), I suggested that I write the descriptions on a sticky note… or seven…

“Vwhat you call dis?”

“Well, I suppose you would say watercolor…”

“MMM, ok, and vwhat ze verds? You know zem?”

“All of them?”

“Vwhat is Bonhoeffer? And orange groove?”

“Grove, yes. An orange grove.”

“Ah… vwhat is orange groove?”

Eventually, I was sufficiently documented, and we moved on to the touch screen kiosk portion of the screening, where I confirmed that I have not recently had cancer, been a prostitute, or shared needles with anyone in the waiting room.

Finally, I was in line for the vitals check, the last hoop before actual donation, and while I waited, a friendly retired veteran named Johnny who worked security at the donation center struck up a conversation with me (he was an hour away from the end of his 12 hour shift. Tomorrow is his Friday. He works 3 12’s, is from Georgia, and his grandparents were dairy farmers. I felt we bonded). Olena called me to the front of the line, and as I extended my arm for the blood pressure cuff, her eyes widened.

“No! You haff dis here?” She pointed to my inner elbows, which are both tattooed (as I thought we had been actively establishing for the last 45 minutes). She grimaced and pulled me over to see the phlebotomist (I cannot even attempt to write that word in her accent). I was then informed that unless I had 1 square inch in the center of each inner elbow that was blank, I would be permanently ineligible as a donor. Johnny looked awkwardly on, pity showing on his kind face for the sort of shennanigans that had obviously been wrought in my youth that I was now trying to atone for. I declined to correct his assumptions, as I was being shuffled towards the exit faster than anything else that had happened since I arrived.

So. Back to the drawing board. While on the one hand, this felt like a phenomenal waste of time, and it does seem like (do hear this in my least critical voice) possibly if you have a hard and fast rule about blank elbows and a demonstrably tattooed individual walks in, you might mention said policy, or at least take a gander at the potentially offending body parts prior to the 2 hour mark, but all in all, I felt quite peaceful when I left. Not only had I not been mugged for my Wodehouse book, I felt the quiet excitement that comes of seeing all your best plans crash and burn and knowing that when God provides, it is going to be epic. It will be the thing I never could have anticipated, and He will get all the glory. It is the feeling you used to get when you were a kid, going to bed on Christmas Eve, listening to the bumps and rustles from your parents, smelling mouthwatering baked good aromas wafting into your room — you cannot really picture or understand what they are doing, but you trust them, so you can get excited to the point of sleepless giddiness.

As I write this, I am not sure how we will manage the various things God is giving us. I rather love that I don’t have to know.

4 Responses

  1. Ellen
    | Reply

    Maybe it truly IS a gimmick? Maybe no one gets paid for their plasma? I believe it’s a front for Olaf’s drug pipeline (Olena’s husband). They paid off Goodwill to move away to elevate the Creepy Meter on the strip mall, and are paying bit part actors to hang around in hoodies (with those extra needles) — the Gen Z’s that are no longer getting stimulus checks, who enjoyed unplugging from the workforce and really don’t want to return anytime soon, and who need a bit of tax-free cash to upgrade their iPhone 13. Those folks who can’t be discouraged (like those raising root canal funds) are then tortured with interminable wait times, and intensive body scans. Barb, if you didn’t have the ink disqualification, it would have been something else: a sudden alert from contact tracing, or perhaps the fact that, glancing out their dirty clinic window, they spotted you driving…GASP…a gas-powered car. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Oh, and Johnny? He has actually been held hostage so long as Rent-A-Cop that he’s developed Stockholm Syndrome. Which, incidentally, is in Europe.

    • barb
      | Reply

      I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this… but I absolutely love you.

  2. Ellen
    | Reply


    • barb
      | Reply

      Today?? That explains the clown and skywriter… so confused before… Thanks!

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