CORONAVIRUS SURVIVAL Day 6

 

The most important event of the week happened Friday in the parking lot of the Community Center outside the line for donating blood.

 

I was surprised a week previous when Vitalant’s email arrived announcing an upcoming blood drive. My wife and I were sheltering in place, not sure how much interaction was allowed, monitoring the exponential rise in positive Coronavirus cases, unsure of what to do next, kinda like everybody. We were doing fine with plenty of food and a safe environment but we also wanted stimulus and to know how the outside world was faring.

 

I knew the bloodmobiles are about the size of school busses that would make it impossible to maintain 6 foot social distancing. Does it matter? Is the virus here? Too many questions, too few answers.

 

I’ve been donating since my cousin lost his leg in a motorcycle accident when I was in my 20s. Sadly, I donate every 8 weeks but haven’t seen my cousin in a year. I have the most common blood type, O positive, which can be used for any other blood type except O negative.

 

I also love the experience. It is a simple act of helping others and the people (I call them vampires but never to their faces) are always super nice. Plus you get a little mini-physical (iron level, blood pressure, temperature), and your body has to regenerate that pint of blood after you give which is healthy. Oh, and don’t forget free Oreos.

 

After I made the appointment online Vitalant called a day later to confirm and I asked how they would be maintaining social distancing. They assured me everything is disinfected and there would be a new waiting procedure to. I was a little nervous but these are the things we have to balance like is it important enough for me to enter 7-11 for that pint of Chunky Monkey and risk coming into indirect contact with the virus?

 

My appointment was for 2:45 on Friday afternoon, my only activity of the day but since I had been sleeping poorly and was on Spring Break I was logging many hours reading in the nest on the front porch. I awoke from a nap at 3, told my wife we had to go (she was writing a story about donating blood for the paper) and made it to the Community Center about 3:15.

 

Four people were outside the bloodmobile, a sign on the door explained that there were new protocols and that we would have to be more patient than ever. I ask if everyone has appointments and all but one do,

 

“But they are going by whoever arrived first” a woman by the door explained. Whatever. I think to myself.

 

My wife chats up a few of the people who are waiting then after a few minutes a nurse opens the door and asks who is next.

 

“Well, I’ve been waiting the longest.” Says a man with a book.

 

“But you don’t have an appointment and I had a 2:30 appointment.” says the woman by the door.

 

“And I was here for my appointment at 2 then went and did an errand when they said the wait would be an hour.” Says another woman.

 

“I’m so sorry, we had a crisis at about 1 and have been backed up ever since.” Explained the nurse.

 

“OK, you go.” says the man with the book to the woman by the door.

 

“No, I can wait” she replies.

 

“But I had an appointment at 2, I should go first.” Said the second woman.

 

And there it is, in times of crisis it is much better to be the man with the book or the woman by the door because selflessness trumps selfishness. And yes, I used that verb on purpose.

 

I’m the last to go in to the blood mobile which is nice because I want as few people as possible in that small space. I pass the mini physical and talk with the vampire (who remembers me from previous donations) about donating blood in these difficult times.

 

“We are actually the first test van to see how well it goes. Donations are way down because of fear and people worried about being around others. We disinfect throughout the day and immediately excuse anyone with a fever but people are still worried.”

 

“Yeah, I was a little nervous.” I admit.

 

“But even with all the problems, everyone has been amazingly supportive.” Her colleague adds.

 

“We come together in times of crisis.” I say as the blood flows.

 

Donate now. Vitalant.org

 

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