Sunday, September 11, 2011

Among the Many Jobs I've Had

For a time I worked at a blood bank. I was a blood components tech - the guy who takes your blood donation, spins it down in a centrifuge, and turns it into different blood “products” - red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. It was occasionally unpleasant, but the pay was decent and I could walk to work.

On the morning of 9/11, I was preparing to enjoy my day off. I received a phone call just after turning on the TV and seeing news of the attacks. My boss wanted me to come in because there was a line of donors out the door and into the parking lot of the blood bank.

So I spent most of that day processing their blood. A call to the media had been made that there was an urgent need for blood for victims of the attacks. Many people felt powerless and wanted to do something, anything, to help. All over the country, people were doing the same thing in their towns - racing to blood banks to give their blood for their fellow countrymen. The young were especially called upon, since their blood was likely to be more pure.

Of course, in the end, most of those donations were never used for anything. There was a glut of blood in the banks on that day and in the weeks that followed - and no survivors who could benefit. So it was poured down the drain, so to speak. Autoclaved, really. The chronic shortage of available blood for hospital use was alleviated, for a short time - some blood was shipped from small towns to the cities where it was needed more. In the end, there was nothing to do about it; blood has a shelf life of a month and a half or less.

By early 2003, I’d burned out on that job and moved on. For some reason though, I occasionally still think about all that wasted blood.