10 April 2008

Looking a gift vein in the needle

Tuesday morning I received a phone call from the American Red Cross. Now, since they weren't actively selling anything, they weren't "marketing." I suppose, given the purpose of this call, the term for this woman (who called herself "Jennifer") would be Tele-blood-eter.

Back on February 11th, Seraphim and myself both went to the Red Cross office on the southside and each donated a pulmonary pint. The week before, the Imperial Sugar Company's refinery near Savannah exploded, killing some 13 people. There was a critical need for blood, so we did our part -- important, since we both have O-positive blood ... the so-called "universal" type.

The Red Cross has a rule saying one can only give blood every 56 days (eight weeks), so at first I thought this might've been a "courtesy call" to that effect, as our 56-day mark was Monday, the 7th.

I would've found that annoying enough; however, 'Jennifer' went on to say (from a script, obviously) "Your area has a less-than-one-week supply, yadda-yadda-yadda, giving one pint of blood saves up to 6,572 lives, yadda-yadda-yadda. You're now eligible to donate again, so on what day can I set you up with an appointment?"

Talk about chutzpah. First of all, I do have a functioning calendar. Several, even. Second of all, I did indeed notate Day #56 on one of them. Third of all, one thing which makes me see shades of deep red is the "positive assumption" sales strategy: "So when will you be buying our product?" Finally -- and this really gets the blood boiling (how appropriate, eh?) -- I do not like it ... no, I BURNING HATE IT when non-profit organizations try and further milk those who give of themselves from their own hearts and consciences.

It is beyond tacky -- even RUDE, in my book -- to pressure a person who has just given to your cause, with true heart, to give even more. Your job is to encourage other people to help you out, not to further squeeze those who have already helped. Can you say "alienate"?

In most cases, I would tell the organization where to stick it. Congratulations, you've just lost a donor. Now you're going to have to work twice as hard to replace whatever I would've given you at my next opportunity.

Thing is, we're talking about blood here. This is a lot more important than money for a non-profit agency that'll squander it for their executive director's new SUV. My donation wampum will be used 100% toward those who need it.

And again, having O+ blood, I carry extra-precious cargo. It would be horribly selfish of me to withhold my blood, when I'm able to donate it without any side-effects (read: doesn't faze me one bit), just because of some pushy script-reading zombie in a cubicle somewhere in the bowels of the 212 area code.

Insert gratuitous PSA here: Giving blood is a good thing. And the laws of Karma apply to everybody; you might need blood yourself someday.

(So, if you meet somebody who came out of the hospital after a blood tranfusion, and (s)he suddenly jerks forward and swoons when they pass a well-maintained old neon motel sign late at night, all lit up and flashing .... and then goes crazy if they see Squirt at the grocery store, wellll you can reasonably assume that they now carry some of Talmadge Gleck's blood. Lord help them.)

I was about to tell 'Jennifer' that I never give out of pressure or guilt, that I only give from the heart. But I stopped, and realized something: I was giving from the heart. Literally.

What I did say to 'Jennifer' was, "I am aware of what my calendar says, but my schedule is such that I cannot commit to an appointment time. Right now, blood drives are happening left and right around here, and my plan -- indeed, our plan -- is to show up at the next drive compatible with our location and schedule, and again part with our pints."

And her response? (obviously from her script) "There's a critical need. We really need you to make an appointment for this week."

Man, that chutzpah meter was pegging. I repeated, "My schedule does not permit such a commitment. My plans are to again give blood some time during April. That's all I can do."

'Jennifer' closed by giving her name, and her phone number ... a really hard one, folks ... 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. So let me get this straight: I would make an appointment with the national office, who would then alert the local chapter office. What if the local chapter had already filled up their book? The opportunities for mix-ups and communication snafus are too numerous to mention.

Bottom line: Next blood drive nearby, Seraphim and I will be there with bells on. Not a moment sooner. Or later.

One nation under greed. Geez.........

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Pint-size Donation" Gleck

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