As a product of 12 years of parochial school, I’m not a particularly religious person. However, if the bite marks on my butt are anything but positive proof, I have learned that what goes around comes around. This is why, whenever I get the chance, I try to do a full Karma Flush to cleanse myself with the universe. Don’t know if I’m succeeding, but I’m terrified to stop trying.
My hyper-religious parents felt that there are a few things every child of a community should do: Among them, volunteering, donating blood, and voting (hopefully Republican). Unfortunately, I’m the only one of their children with whom any of this stuck.
I deeply believe that if you don’t vote, you forfeit your right to complain. And, for me, that’s not gonna happen. Volunteering simply hedges your bets against future disaster and snags with the forces that be in the universe (sound mercenary? Maybe so, but no one turns away my help at the food pantry and my house has never been hit by a meteor, so you tell me). And as for donating blood, well I’m at a loss to understand why anyone doesn’t.
Yes, you can donate a turkey (probably it’s the free one they gave you at the food store anyway) at Thanksgiving, but does the turkey literally save a life? Blood does. Does that used, winter coat effectively ease the suffering of chemotherapy patients? Blood does.
I’m not suggesting that food and clothes aren’t necessary: What I am positing as a flaw to this is that I had to first purchase something for myself in order to give something else away. I don’t have to do a damn thing other than change oxygen into carbon dioxide in order to donate blood. Oh, and there are free cookies.
Does the needle suck? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but that is its point. It’s really not so bad. My flu shot hurt worse than the last time I gave blood. The talented professionals at the Red Cross do this all day long: They’re good at it.
I have a creepy relative who wails, “I can’t stand the sight of blood!” Oh, my word – you poor thing – when did your eyelids stop working? When is Bon Jovi holding a benefit for that? Get over it: Close your eyes, breathe deeply, know that you’re helping your fellow human, and remember the part about the cookies.
Yes, the screening process depresses me a little: They repeatedly ask me my age and weight (I’ve always been bad with numbers and totally hate those two) and I have to answer “No” to all the interesting questions (Have you been out of the U.S. in the past three years? Have you had a tattoo? Body piercing?). With regard to the questions about my sexual practices, I just hit “No” as soon as I get to “In the past 12 months have you had sex…” bang – I hit “No.” What comes after that, really isn’t applicable for (woe is) me.
After donating, they put this big, impressive bandage on your arm (which is totally good for getting you out of cooking dinner), there are the aforementioned cookies, and – best of all – a large, heart-shaped sticker on your chest that reads, “Be Nice To Me – I Gave Blood Today!”
When I donate blood, I know that I haven’t saved someone from the railroad tracks or stopped a bullet with my teeth. But I do know that, somewhere, someone who needs me is going to get the best of me. So, after donating, before I get in my car, I lean back and face my chest to the heavens and say, “Take that Karma: No meteors for me today!”