The "tele-blood-eters" have struck again.
This afternoon they left a voicemail on Seraphim's cellphone. Yeah, it's that time. It's been more than 56 days since our last donation of blood (May 3).
But we did try to make another donation. And after what we went through, it's a damn good thing they didn't tele-blood-eter ME. Because, the way I'm feeling right now, I'd teach that poor call center person a few new four-letter words to add to her vocabulary and share among friends.
So, did we donate? No. And here's why:
The blood drive was Sunday, in fact at the same location as it was the day we last gave. We both got to the bloodmobile at about 2:20 p.m., and were "welcomed" (using the term loosely) by a larger woman with dark hair who clearly had the following written all over her face: "@#$%!! MORE PEOPLE??!!"
Gruffly, she pointed toward toward the scantron sheet and donor booklets and, with the speed of an auctioneer, told us what to do. (I half expected her to say "Sold American!", but anyway.....) Being previous donors, it's a good thing we were accustomed to the whole procedure; that would've been awfully intimidating to someone trying to give blood for the first time!
Seraphim and I sat down and waited our turn. Today it wasn't as busy, so it didn't look like much of a wait. We filled out those scan sheets, taking care not to fill in more than one circle so as not to blow up the mainframe computer ... as more than one teacher warned us in grade school during those California Achievement Tests they gave us each Spring (Do not open the donor booklet until told to do so?).
After filling in the basic information, and taking good care not to fold, spindle or mutilate our scantron sheets, we proceeded to take the donor booklet, sit down and then peruse said dog-eared pages. Booklet = singular. I decided I'd just read over Sera's shoulder. I mean, hell, it's not as if I'm not familiar with the requirements. I haven't had sexual relations with anyone outside this crazy marriage. I haven't patronized any prostitutes. I haven't visited any foreign countries (Mississippi included) ....
Well, we're sittin' here on the bench, I mean we're sittin' here on the Group W bench ... another of the Red Cross workers turned around and, as if I were committing some mortal sin, asked "Have you read the booklet?" I replied, "I'm reading over my wife's shoulder." I go on to remark, "We've already donated - twice - so I know the drill." (I mean, if I were ineligible, would I have wasted time, wear and tear and $4.00 gasoline coming out here????)
His response blew me away: "YOU STILL HAVE TO READ IT!" It was said in a very condescending, unprofessional tone of voice.
Wow. All I could do is reply, "Yazzah." Which I did.
Seconds later, I was called into the little booth for the iron test, and questionnaire (totally pointless, because you've already read the booklet -- under penalty of bitching out by arrogant twats -- and because you could easily lie through your teeth throughout the whole thing, and they'll still take your blood!).
It gets even better. The woman who was jockeying the laptop and fingerprickers looked and behaved as if she were a refugee from a nail salon. Attitude and all. Every other sentence was punctuated with the phrase "Young Mon." For instance, "What's your date of birth, YOUNG MONNNNN??"
How nice. Korean by way of Jamaica.
I handed her my Red Cross donor card, and she began keying the number into her laptop. Then she stopped.
It seems I'm "ineligible" to give blood. "Indefinitely ineligible."
Excuse me? It's been more than 56 days (64, to be exact). You haven't even begun the Grand Inquisition. My blood, I presume, is okay because I didn't receive any notification from Red Cross that indicated otherwise.
"I cannot tell you the reason, YOUNG MONNNNNN, you need to call this number", as she gave me a sheet with the toll-free number of blood services. There was some kind of reason code it returned, but she refused to tell me. She was acting as if I had some kind of health issue ... and it reeked of the kind of thing you'll encounter when you try and apply for a store credit card and you're denied.
I was very ticked by this point, and as I came out I told Seraphim, "Bad news, honey, I cannot donate blood because my credit score is too low."
We both left, and another woman (younger, with blonde hair and glasses -- a FRIENDLY woman at that, boy was she out of place in that bloodmobile!) gave us two Red Cross baseball caps "for coming out and trying."
What I wanted instead was the Rice-A-Roni and Don Pardo's autograph.
Later, Seraphim told me she almost took my arm and said "Not today...." She saw that first woman's face before I did and had a bad feeling.
Monday, I called the blood center and also the local chapter -- believe me, I was going to have words with the Savannah chapter for their attitudes. I couldn't get a warm body at the local office to save my life. Finally, I reached somebody in Charlotte. "Sherri."
It seems that I was mistakenly flagged as ineligible due to "system consolidation." Apparently they're merging the Atlanta and Charlotte donor databases and some people are being barred in the process.
I asked when that would be corrected and "Sherri's" answer was "maybe two weeks. But I hope you'll consider trying to donate again, and just call us beforehand to make sure you're off the ineligible list."
Excuse YOU? You mean I have to go through the telephone menu hell, wait several years on hold, BEFORE heading to the bloodmobile where I'll be treated like cattle by Red Cross workers who so obviously were trained by our fine Airport TSA agents?? Sheeeeeeyet.
I'd done some research as to whether Red Cross was the only option for giving blood. Turns out it ain't; there's Memorial Health, a local hospital, which operates its own blood bank in conjunction with The Blood Alliance, which serves Jacksonville and Savannah.
I told "Sherri in Charlotte" as much, and what she said and HOW she said it spoke volumes: "I really wish you'd give blood with us."
How do you like that? Blood wars! Don't drink Pepsi, drink Coke. Ford, not Chevy. Does "Sherri" have a sticker in her cubicle of Calvin taking a whiz on the words LOCAL BLOOD BANK??
Meanwhile, I wrote a letter to the Executive Director of the Red Cross in Savannah complaining about our treatment. I mailed it later that Monday afternoon, too. As of Thursday evening, I have yet to hear back from anyone.
07/11/2008 UPDATE: I did hear back from "Sherri" ..... the 'ineligible' flag was removed from my file. Groovy. Give her points for trying. Now if only I can hear back from someone at the LOCAL level. Somehow I doubt it. Maybe there's a reason. Still, I have some hope.....
Through the online searches about Red Cross, I came upon some interesting information. I was reminded about how the organization pocketed millions of dollars for 9/11 survivors. How they refused to set foot in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. HOW THEY CHARGED SOLDIERS FOR DOUGHNUTS AND COFFEE DURING WORLD WAR II (Officers got 'em free. OTOH, the Salvation Army - bless their genuinely Christian hearts - never shook down our troops). Google it yourself. Your eyes too will be opened by just how many of our "greatest generation" citizens loathe the Red Cross with the same ferocity as toward Hitler and the Japanese. Even today.
What I don't understand is why Red Cross acts so arrogantly about giving blood? I don't have to give blood. But I WANT to give blood and help my community. I'm ready and willing to endure the small amount of pain that goes with it. At the same time, what I will NOT endure again are attitudes like what we experienced Sunday afternoon.
If the Red Cross wants my blood badly enough to turn around and charge $300+ per unit for it, most of it I'm sure further greasing one of their already overpaid executives, then they'd better draw my blood with a golldurned smile on their faces!!!!!
After all, through the line of work I'm in, I understand very well the gross stupidity of alienating the people who come forward to donate for something they believe in, something they could just as easily sit back and "consume" for free.
Red Cross is going to have to do some serious backpedaling before I'll ever again darken one of their bloodmobiles. 'Till then, we'll be calling The Blood Alliance. At least my fluids will stay in this area and help one of my neighbors who might need it.
In closing, as always, this YOUNG MONNNNNNNNNN says "Ciao for niao."
--Talmadge "Old and crusty, but YOUNG!" Gleck
Chris Cornell, My mom, and Me
5 weeks ago