Our story begins with our hero walking into the crowded waiting room of the local American Red Cross office. Every seat in the waiting room is full as he approaches the desk and accepts the obligatory “What You Need To Know Before Donating” packet of information from the 107 year old volunteer. He quickly scans the notebook pages pretending to read. He’s donated blood many times before, so none of this information is news to him. He notes with mild interest that there seems to be new questions regarding Mad Cow disease and visiting England in the past 25 years. England, apparently still sore about that whole Revolutionary War fiasco 230 years ago, has been exporting Mad Cow disease to the States. I turn my packet back in to the volunteer and look around, mentally counting how many people are ahead of me. Fortunately two of the waiting room denizens appear to be there as spectators for a young lady who is having trouble maintaining her state of consciousness while donating. I settle in to a recently vacated chair and open my cell phone to play a game to pass the time.
The two elderly volunteers, Ma and Pa Kettle as I’m beginning to think of them, lean on the desk making small talk with each other and anyone who makes eye contact. To my right a young woman speaks up, “Excuse me, but I had a 5:00 appointment and I’ve been waiting a half hour.” Pa Kettle responds with the usual platitudes about how busy the day has been and that she’s next on the list and will be taken ASAP. The young woman, who’s voice seems to get more grating each time she speaks, responds, “Well, what’s the point of making an appointment if no one is going to be seen on time? I might as well just walk in whenever I feel like it.” The rabble rouser’s husband/boyfriend/lap dog chips in, “They always book more appointments than they should because a lot of people don’t show up.” Again Pa Kettle attempts to placate them, but the young woman is undeterred as she relates the story of her tardy dentist and how she won’t schedule with her doctor on a Monday because of all the weekend illness people who back up the schedule on Mondays. Her lap dog of a husband, apparently eager to stay on her good side in hopes that the lack of blood will make her loopy enough later that she’ll actually deign to have sex with him, again pipes in with his brilliant theory about overbooking. Pa Kettle offers to let her fill out a survey after she donates. She continues to whine. Like some sort of philanthropic Rainman, lap dog boy again restates his position on their scheduling policy. Pa Kettle tells the woman that he’ll include her comments on his end of day report in the “customer concerns” section. This exchange goes on a good 10 minutes as the rest of the waiting room watches, our heads bobbing from side to side with each volley, as if we’re at a tennis match. By now I’m tempted to raise my hand and say, “Excuse me, if I’m ever in an accident don’t give me her blood. I’m pretty sure it’s spoiled.”
Sorry for the delay in getting back to blogging. The clamoring for a new installment of The Phil Factor was deafening. As always, if you can’t donate blood you can help other by subscribing to The Phil Factor on your Amazon Kindle and by following me on Twitter @ThePhilFactor.