Monday, September 22, 2008

The Weirdest Part Of The Day

Roomie Jekyll and I went to see the latest Troubadour Theatre Company. offering, “As U2 Like it” last week. If you’ve never seen the Troubies, they are awesome, they cross Shakespeare plays with popular music to create things like “The Comedy of Aerosmith.” or “Much A Doobie About Nothing” or my personal favorites, “A Midsummer Saturday Night Fever Dream” and “Romeo Hall and Juliet Oates.”

One of the mainstays of a Troubie show is that they will stop the show for any latecomers to sing their twist on Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” changing it to “You’re So Late” to spotlight the offending patrons. During this performance, they actually had to do it twice, for two separate groups, and at the end of the second time, the lead actor/artistic director shouted “Lock the doors!” and we all laughed.

And that’s what I felt like leading up to my second blood drive of the year for my church, which happened yesterday. Lock the doors! We were shooting for 33 signups, but partly due to the interview I did in front of the congregation with a lovely woman who needed three blood transfusions while giving birth, and partly due to me mentioning the Metrolink crash which wiped out local blood supplies, we ended up with 53 signups.

Lock the doors!

Red Cross was stoked at our signup rate, but couldn’t spare another Bloodmobile, so I was looking at 53 people, 1 Bloodmobile, 3 beds, 2 interview rooms, which all equals veeeeeeeeeery long waiting times. Last time, people waited up to 20 minutes before the Bloodmobile would take them on, and that was with 30 people. Nobody should have to wait to get stuck with a needle, folks. Nobody.

So I was trying not to panic. A fair percentage of people that signed up weren’t from the church, they found us online from the Red Cross site. So I send emails to everyone, explaining there might be waiting times, bring a book, I’ll buy doughnuts, we’ll have fun.

Stay with me, we’re sidestepping:

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 5:30am, because I’m a freak, and decided to walk Basil Diva Dog and Ginger Puppy. They hate other dogs and there certainly wouldn’t be other dogs at that hour. So off we go in the dark (it gets light around 6am) to the Greek Theater. This is my prayer time with God, and we were talking about my hopes for the blood drive, and please order things so nobody has to wait too long, and everything else going in my life.

We reach the halfway point of the walk, turning back around to head home. On Vermont Blvd heading south past pretty big mansions and rolling lawns. Basil Diva Dog is lagging, because he’s getting on in years (I have my suspicions he might be going deaf too), and Ginger Puppy is trying my patience because she has to stop and sniff everything every few seconds. It’s grey light, not dark, not light, and for some reason, I turn around and look.

There’s a coyote pack behind us.

When we see coyotes on our early morning walks, it’s usually just one (whenever anybody sees a coyote in L.A. their first thought is always “what a strange looking dog”) and the coyote usually slinks away, tail between its legs.

This is a pack of three, maybe four. They’ve come down a lush green lawn, they’re pointed towards us.


As I spot them, they stop moving. I hurry the dogs along, hoping that the coyotes are headed somewhere else. I look back a second time, they’re following us.

Again, another sidestep:

One of the very few Southern things I will cop to in my life is that I did indeed grow up across the street from a cow pasture. (It’s subsequently been turned into million dollar homes.) I did occasionally play in the cowfield, there was a lone tree I liked to climb, we even flew kites there sometimes. And one of the things you learned very quickly about cows (besides the fact they’re really not attractive to look at) is that they would come towards you if you turned your back on them. I don’t think they would ever try to charge you, I don’t know what they had in their little cow mind Red light! Green light! But all you had to do was turn back towards them, maybe even advance a bit, and they’d scatter.

I don’t think a coyote pack is the same way, nor do I want to find out.

Meanwhile, Ginger Puppy has noticed them, and wants to charge, lunging in her harness. Oddly enough, she’s not barking, maybe she knows we shouldn’t be messing with them. Basil Diva Dog has not noticed, maybe his sniffer isn’t working either.

And the thoughts running through my brain are I cannot be attacked by a coyote pack today, I have a blood drive to run. I have no time to go to a hospital and get a rabies shot, I have a blood drive to run. I can’t even GET blood at the blood drive I have to run, we’re overbooked. This is not happening today.

So I turn around and shout “GET! GET! GET!” I have no stick to throw, both hands have leashes of housesitting dogs in them. I cannot throw a Ginger Puppy at them, that would be bad (and she weighs something like 40 pounds and hates being picked up.)

The shouting doesn’t make them scatter, but it does freeze them in their tracks. I continue to hurry the dogs along, look behind us, and they’re gone. And a steady stream of cars come up Vermont to the country club (there’s a golf course), so even if there HAD been a dust up, people would’ve stopped to help.

So after successfully getting the dogs home and vowing not to walk in the dark ever again, handling an overbooked Blood Drive seems like no problem at all.

Not even when the first person that meets the Bloodmobile is a heavy lidded drunk guy who wants to give blood “But I’ve been drinking, that’s not a problem, is it” who swears he’s a registered hematologist.

Not even when people have to start waiting at 10:30am.

Not even when more than a few people can’t wait any longer and head to church.

Not even when the Red Cross has provided me with an utterly humorless volunteer who has a very precise way of manning the check in desk. I swear, she lack the socialization gene. She’s more anti-social than me.

Not even when there’s a lull twice during the day, because the online people have not only heeded my warning about the waiting time, they’ve decided not to show up at all. So ultimately, we don’t have 53 people showing, we have something like 36 (I’m still waiting for final numbers from the Red Cross.)

Because the lull means that I can fill the gap with me and my blood. I march onto the bloodmobile into the interview room, they test my blood and BOO YAH! 13.5 in the hemoglobin machine o’ death! I BEAT you, hemoglobin machine o’ death!

The nurse seems to think my veins are too small, “Have you ever given blood before?!”


I say yes I have, I’ve been bounced at every step, low iron, tissue clot in the needle, bruises on the arm, but none of that is happening today, because I did not get attacked by a coyote pack and I am running a blood drive for reasons I’m still not entirely sure about so FIND A DAMN VEIN!

So she pokes and prods and eventually finds one she can deal with, and sticks the needle in. Since I’m the only one on the bloodmobile, the nurses are chatting away about which is the better Video Of All Time: “Thriller” or “November Rain.” The bag fills up, they take the needle out, and they tell me to lift my arm. Then Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” comes on the radio, and the charge nurse says, “Okay! Let’s all start headbanging now” So for two seconds, the nurses do (I’m so not making this up) and I thrash my arms since I’m laying down and can’t move my head, and the charge nurse says “No, not you, you’ve just donated” and the headbanging party comes to a halt.

Yeah, that was probably the weirdest part of my day.


Gypmar said...

Being followed by a pack of coyotes--it's manna from Blog Heaven! I quite enjoyed this post.

-from a long-time lurker who has blood-donation issues remarkably similar to your own

Patty said...

You are amazing.

Simply put.

Coyote Chaser, Blood Drive Hero.


Oh, and let's not forget the wicked sense of humor.


Anonymous said...


Wow - that's wild and creepy and also cool about the coyotes. neat! Glad the gang stopped following, tho.

And congrats on the blood drive!

Did I tell you I went to Ringling with a troubie? Matt Walker - I think he's the main troubie writer.

Fun times!