Today’s Art of Manliness assignment was to perform a service.  Throughout life I have done various kinds of services, such as tutoring at Pomona Hope or serving on urban mission trips.  But since my life is in transition right now, I didn’t know what I could commit to.  So I donated blood at Red Cross, with my buddy Aaron Chow.

To donate blood, first you must read through a booklet of information, so you know what you’re getting into.  Then they take your pulse, blood pressure, and blood iron levels (prick your finger like sleeping beauty).  Afterwards, you have to answer a series of questions to make sure that your blood is usable.

An exciting event happened here, when Red Cross Lady #1 pricked my fingers, wiped off the first few drops, then used the 3rd squeeze for the iron test.  I used my newly acquired talk-to-strangers-skill to ask her why she did that.  She said right under the skin there’s a lot of interstitial fluid that dilutes the blood, so they don’t use the first few drops.  Oh the benefits of talking to strangers!

Anyways, then Red Cross Lady #2 stabbed me with a giant needle to suck 473176 μl of blood from my precious body.  Today it hurt more than usual, as if she was unusually excited to stick the sharp metal object into my arm.  The sticking-it-in phase is perhaps the most exciting part of the donation process.  Normally I like to watch the needle going into my arm, because I think it’s braver to boldly witness such an invasion, but alas today I was at a bad angle so I missed the viewing.  Disappointed that it hurt and I didn’t even get to see the needle’s painful entry, I comforted myself with the thought that the pain is just another thing to write on my blog.

About a minute into the donation, I thought my blood would be squirting out like the fountain of youth, when Red Cross Lady #3 told my stabber to check my flow.  They said things like “I’m going to DCR him” or something like that in very worried voices, which freaked me out a bit.

‘Maybe the Red Cross Lady #2 was too enthusiastic in her insertion that the blood isn’t coming out…  Maybe they’ll have to take it out and I will fail today’s assignment…  Maybe I can ask them to stick it to me in my other arm because I really need to serve somebody today…’

It turns out my blood flow was a bit slow today (maybe I didn’t drink much water), but I made it.  I busted out my talk-to-strangers-skill again and asked Red Cross Lady #2 whether the world ends if I take too long to bleed.  She said if I can’t pump out a pint in 15 minutes, they can’t use the blood because it starts clotting.  She also said I’ll bruise because she had to readjust the needle 3 times to get the blood squirting.  I guess today was more painful than usual because it was actually 3 very subtly rapid movement of needle inside my arm, not 1; she must have been a ninja to have pulled that off that quickly.

Anyways, afterwards Aaron and I sat at the post-bleeding station for 15 minutes, eating delicious Keebler mini fudge stripes and downing a bottle of water.  Then we walked out of there, knowing that somebody out there somewhere somehow some time will share our blood, and live to tell his/her own stories of adventure.  It was a good day to be men of service.

Simeon Koh