“So you’re a student, right?” said the elderly woman as she jabbed a needle into my arm.
“Uh… yeah,” I said.
“I remembered that!” she said as I thought When have I ever spoken to this woman?
She continued, “What are you studying?”
I braced myself and replied, “Music and English Literature.”
“Mmmmmhm.” She bit her lip and nodded her head slightly. “I remember you. I’m bad with names but I remember you. You’ve been working somewhere this summer, right?”
Prior to today, I hadn’t given blood in a year. And when I did, it wasn’t at the American Legion Post, where this lady was trying to convince me that she knew me at least on a hairdresser basis. So unless she had recently run into me somewhere, asked me about my life and then hit me over the head with a hammer, she had to have been guessing. What other things did she magically come to know about me? Would she ask about my sister’s dancing? Would she ask how the puppies are doing? Did she know about the incident with the medical research donation letters?
“Yeah, I’ve been interning with a refugee resettlement agency.”
She nodded knowingly.
I have previously given at my high school and a Catholic church but today was my first time bleeding at the Legion. I also tried to donate plasma once in an odd office building down the road. They pay well so perhaps it isn’t exactly donating. I was an hour and a half into the pre-donation vetting process when it occurred to the man interrogating me to ask how long I’d had my ear pierced. Actually, the man in the lab coat had a sheet of paper with little outlines of a woman and a man on which he asked me to indicate the locations of any tattoos and piercings I had. I put a dot on the left ear. That’s all. He asked when I’d had it pierced and I told him. He said to come back in a month and we’d start over again, thank you so much for trying. After the long wait to begin the process, the lengthy legal and medical notices that I had to read and sign, and the fluids they had drained from me, I felt like taking the pencil and indicating where exactly I would pierce him. This was probably the wrong frame of mind to have when trying to do something good.
But in all of my three or four times giving blood, I’ve never had a problem. Chug a gallon of water, sign in, fill in all of the nos, lie down, get back up after ten minutes, eat cookies, leave. My first time, the actual process of drawing blood only took seven or eight minutes. I was proud of this until the phlebotomist who assisted me said that I would probably die quickly in a car crash.
I think it’s rather fitting that one of the blood donation sites in my town is at the American Legion Post. It is a reminder within a reminder of the suffering in our world and how it binds us together. One blood; several types.