First of all, I’m retired. I have extra time on my hands.
Secondly, in light of the Covid-19 crisis, I’m practicing self-isolation. Being alone is really tough for people like me who get energized by being in the company of others. I enjoy social interaction and, as such, am involved in a lot of community activities. I prefer talking to reading. If this crisis continues for months to come, I’m going to go nuts.
So an e-mail message arrived from Canadian Blood Services, encouraging donors to continue to donate even though we are practicing self-isolation. This reminded me that I had asked a question when I last donated blood, one that remained unanswered. So there I was, sitting at home alone, I had time on my hands and no one to talk to. I was moved to action. I called the 1-800 number.
The person who answered, transferred my call to the nurse. I explained my question.
“Hi, I have a question, one that has been on my mind for some time. Question 17 on the pre-donation questionnaire asks, Have you, in your past or present job, taken care of or handled monkeys or their body fluids? “
“OK, so what if I am a recreational monkey-fluid handler? Let’s say that I volunteer at the zoo and work with the monkeys. It’s not my job, it’s more of a hobby. Or if I have a pet monkey and occasionally have to deal with his fluids? Is there an actual distinction between a non-paid monkey-fluid handler and one who does it for a living?”
She actually laughed. This told me that this was probably the first time she was asked this particular question. Or maybe it was the twentieth time and she was getting tired of it. Or maybe she thought I was an idiot. I did explain I was dealing with the initial stages of cabin-fever and that she might be the only human with whom I contact that day.
Anyway, she got the binder out and read to me the criteria that would preclude a monkey-fluid handler from donating blood. It was evident that there a clear distinction between a recreational monkey-fluid handler and a professional monkey-fluid handler.
I responded, “Well, you would have to pay me to do that.”
“Exactly. If you have a pet monkey you are okay to donate blood. If a friend’s monkey pees on you, you are okay. If you volunteer at the zoo and help clean the monkey cages, you are okay to donate.”
So, my question was answered. But I did have another.
“Is this the first time this particular question has been asked?”
She confirmed that it was.
I wonder if she wrote it down and placed it on the staff-room fridge at Canadian Blood Services?
The conversation WAS recorded for quality control and training purposes. Hmmm . . .
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