I am the proud possessor of a badge which says I have given blood 10 times. My first donation was a few years ago at Battle Memorial Hall. This involved an initial series of questions, including two ‘women only’ ones. It won’t surprise regular readers that I committed the cardinal sin of answering these, which doubtless convinced the nursing staff that they were dealing with a total idiot:
Having narrowly passed the initial suitability checks, I am instructed to return to the waiting area before being directed to one of the ‘blood extraction’ seats. I am given an advice sheet and a large red rectangle is stuck on the back of my seat. This is to tell people that it is my first time. I also suspect it is to identify those idiots who are unsure what gender they are! I fear the red rectangle is a coded instruction to staff to “give his head a good slap whenever you pass by”.
After lots of fiddling about with tubes and bags I am connected up to the apparatus.
As I relax back in the seat I realise that music is playing in the background. As I listen I am surprised to hear the strains of Norman Greenbaum belting out that well known 1969 hit, “Spirit in the Sky”. As I drift off, blood slowly dripping from my left arm, I listen to Norman’s words:
“When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best”
What kind of twisted mind chose that track?! Oh well, the tune’s a good one.
After 10 or 15 minutes of the recommended fist clenching and buttock squeezing, a nurse takes the red rectangle from the back of the chair and gives it to me. I’m to carry it with me so that they can keep a close eye on the new boy. As I join the other ‘drained’ clients propping up the bar I discover the real reason why I am carrying the red rectangle. The ‘bar tender’ advises me I can only have orange squash to drink. It seems hot drinks are not available to new boys
So there I sit like a recalcitrant teenager sitting with his soft drink on the steps of the pub. However, I get my own back by eating a second packet of custard creams!
After 10 minutes I am discharged and wend my slightly light-headed way back home.
I reflect on the entire experience as I walk. I wonder if they all broke down laughing once I had gone.
“What an idiot!” “Answered the women only questions!”
I ponder whether they consigned my hard given blood sample to the bin marked “Idiot Blood”. Nonetheless I am proud of the fact that I have finally done my bit for human-kind and am a ‘Blood Virgin’ no longer.