Only I could manage to turn an intended act of generosity completely on its head. Last Monday I went into Columbia’s Roone Arledge Auditorium expecting to give blood; I left with all the appropriate markings (a week later my arm still hosts 7-8 clearly visible stab wounds) and sense of loss, but my plasma tank still nearly full. Maybe it was the technicians they had working. Maybe I do in fact have “deep veins” that require shovel-like motions to find. Either way, I felt bad drinking their juice boxes afterwards.
Given a successful blood-letting in the fall, I wasn’t expecting any sort of problem when I threw myself onto one of their makeshift medical chairs and started squeezing. Ouch. The needle entered my right arm; I chuckled to show the nurse how tough I was. Soon enough they were able to determine that no blood was, in fact, leaving my arm, and my technician decided a second attempt was in order. Fuck. Needle out. God dammit. Needle in, millimeters from the first spot. Still no red stuff flowing, but the woman watching me has developed a sort of vendetta against my arm and begins to use all her digital dexterity to “find that fuckin’ vein.” No such luck.
Meanwhile, I’m building kind of an audience in the auditorium. The show’s got everything: sharp objects, blood, painful reactions. People seated for their initial screenings have been following my avant-garde performance for ten or so minutes, wondering if they should ditch this place to avoid a repeat situation. Closer by, five fellow blood-givers are trying not to laugh as two more technicians huddle around my empty bag. Objectively, yeah, it was pretty funny – the whole of this blood drive firmly devoted to my veins and their ruby-red reward (I wonder how many people’s lives weren’t saved that day). It’s clear they’re going to make a play for my other arm, and they do. This time with double the recklessness! They jab once, twice, thrice – no good, any of them. After numerous bold attempts, they declare my veins the victor and direct me to the snack station.
I find myself a magnet for these types of situations, good deeds never ceasing to go unpunished. I mow the lawn; turns out I threw the wrong gas in the engine. I tutor a kid; he burns a house down. The universe mocks my goodwill at every turn. I ended my personal blood-drive having a) wasted the technicians’ time b) given no blood and c) bearing a new set of track marks. Oh, and the fashionistas handing out arm bands decided that matching colors would be too blase – they wrapped me up in red and blue. I left Roone Arledge looking like a demented Ninja Turtle.