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Time to eat the donuts
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Giving blood used to be simple. You signed in, they ascertained that you didn't have gonorrhea or syphilis (by asking you), made sure you didn't have a cold (by observing you), they pricked your ear to test for hemoglobin levels, asked some perfunctory questions about illegal drug usage, and you climbed onto a table and donated your pint. Today's donation process is now more complicated than dealing with the department of motor vehicles, which is probably as it should be, considering that blood can be as lethal as a moving vehicle. The process goes something like this.

1. Sign in. Show picture ID or Red Cross card.
2. Read a large sign with a few of the most basic warnings about who should not donate. The font size on the sign needs to be made larger for those of us with aging eyes but good blood. I'm thinking billboard size.
3. Spend about 10 minutes reading a set of laminated pages that describe in great detail the qualifications for donation. (You can't spend less time than this because that makes it appear that you haven't read all the warnings.) Verify that you have not lived in the UK (damn mad cows), any malaria-ridden area (more on that later), or New Jersey during the past 3 years. (only kidding about NJ - it's a lovely state)
4. Move on to the next waiting area.
5. Be called to the "confidential" interview area which consists of a desk, two chairs, a small blue partition set up on top of the desk, a laptop, and a Red Cross worker who races through the questions at top speed.
6. Have your finger pricked and your temperature taken. (When the technician made a comment about making the entire process self-service, including the finger-pricking, I must have looked so horrified (with images of certain sex devices incongruously dancing through my brain) that she quickly rescinded her words.) Answer the next series of questions from the technician.
7. Move to the PC and answer a set of more detailed questions. Confirm that my travels outside the US in the last 3 years consisted of a trip to Playa del Carmen in Mexico (a malaria area! who knew?), and that I haven't visited Africa since 1975.
8. Transfer to the donation area, the carpet under which is covered with plastic in the event of any nasty spills. Poke, squeeze, drip, drip, drip, hold your arm in the air, done.
9. Wander to the "canteen", a set of 10 chairs set up around a few tables. Orange or apple juice? Apple. Ice? No thanks, considering that the heat has apparently been turned off in our building and it's about 55 in the donation room. Snack on two cookies and a pack of pretzels. No offers of more juice or tasty snacks, such as the donuts that used to the menu-of-choice in prior years. Sit for 10 minutes reading USA Today (Mariah Carey has had her hotness renewed, the Dixie Chicks are still recovering from "The Incident", Ray Liotta will star in a new TV show this fall). Mission accomplished. Return to office.

No little pin, asking people to be kind to me because I donated. No final thank you. No reminder to drink lots of fluids. I should be satisfied with knowing that someone may benefit from my 30 minute effort. But I still miss those donuts.

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