Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On Crowds, Unpleasant Noises and Trying To Do Good

On Saturday, I went to give blood. I have done it only once before (though I have made four attempts and been sent away because my iron was too low) and had decided that one of my resolutions for 2011 was to give as often as they would let me.  I'm a fucking saint, right?

I made an appointment for 11:30, because the last time I had gone in on a Saturday without an appointment, I waited an hour just for the initial finger prick...and who wants to wait that long for a little prick? When I arrived, there was some kind of alarm going off -- a loud beep every few seconds. I don't know how it wasn't driving everyone else crazy but, holy shitballs, for me it was like torture. Every beep made my whole body tense up. I couldn't put my earbuds in to block it out because I was waiting for my name to be called.

Since I was a little bit early, I figured I could tough it out the ten minutes before my appointment time. It was very crowded and I took a seat as far away from the rest of the people waiting as I could. The chatter on top of the beeping alarm was grating at best, so I tried to keep myself distracted with a game on my iPod. 11:30 came an went. Soon it was 11:45. Then noon. I was still waiting, still forcing myself to tolerate the crowd and the obnoxious beeping.

I let one more minute tick by. I saw the nurse stand up to call the next name and waited to hear mine. Surely such a large organization that allows you to make appointments so that you can help them would not be more than a half hour behind schedule. The next name was not mine. Then a man walked in with two small children. The only seats available were next to me. The children brought loud video games with them. I was done.

I approached the counter and explained that I couldn't wait any longer, but would look at my schedule and make an appointment for another day. I felt guilty. I wanted to donate. I wanted to help people. When I saw that there were still five people WITH APPOINTMENTS ahead of me, my guilt began to ebb slightly.  Then the nurse gave me some kind of self-righteous sneer and I walked out with my guilt fully assuaged.

I still want to give blood. I think that pre-diagnosis, I would have just decided never to go back. Now I think I'll try a different approach. I am going to contact the director and explain my situation. Being on the autism spectrum, I can't deal with crowds and noise the way others can. I have emailed the blood center and asked what a good time would be for me to go in where there will be less of a crowd. This means less noise, less chance of waiting a long time and the ability to use my earbuds and still know when they are calling me.

--Update: I explained in my e-mail to the organization that I am not comfortable with the phone and that I needed to converse via e-mail.  Their e-mailed response told me to call them.  Guh.

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