Encounters in Publishing #24: Blood, by Liz Mathews

Every once in a while the company where I work sponsors a blood drive. On the whole, I think this is a good thing and normally try to participate. I can spare a pint of my A+ blood once or twice a year, no problem! It’s not like I need all of it all the time, and blood is something that grows back.

So on a recent Tuesday morning I got to work, scarfed a quick and sugary breakfast, and announced to a coworker that I was heading down to the blood bus and would be back within the hour. I hoped. I know I said the “I hope” part. It was a bright and crisp morning as I exited the Flatiron and entered the bus parked right outside.

And things stayed pretty bright and crisp through all the typical blood donation stuff that goes on. There’s the filling out of highly personal forms, the checking of vitals in a tiny room at the back of the bus, and the waiting to be drained of one’s life force followed by the actual draining. Easy. I did all these things, and then made my way to the snack station.

In blood donation experiences past, the journey from bed to snack station has been a problem for me. As in, there was one time when I got up to make my way to the cookies and woke up to a highly alcoholic smell and a view of 5th Avenue from the window next to the bed I’d been placed back into. So this time, when I made it to a seated position and cracked open a tiny can of orange juice, I thought I was good to go.

The woman monitoring us in the snack area asked if I was okay. I said yes.

But then I did not feel okay. If you have ever fainted before, you might recognize the feeling that is comparable to what sand looks like as it falls through an hourglass.

The woman asked me again if I was okay. I said no. She asked if I thought I could move back to one of the beds. Also no. Other attendants came over, and asked the other blood donator in the snack station if she could move, so I could lay down right there.

She must have complied, because when I awoke to that nasty smell of alcohol again, I wasn’t on top of anyone.

Forty-five minutes, two more cans of juice, about five cookies, and a fair amount of scolding later I was allowed off the bus and back into the Flatiron building, provided I be escorted by another donator who was much more lively and with it than I. Though she worked on the third floor, I did not complain or silently curse her when she followed me into the elevator and pressed the “three” button. Sometimes we’re all in it together, you know?


Liz Mathews composes ads for many things science fiction and fantasy. Her writing can be found in magazines, catalogs, newspapers, brochures, and books; and on bookmarks, postcards, cable television commercials, and even doorhangers all across the United States and in some parts of Canada. She lives in Brooklyn but considers the cornfields of Iowa home.