“If you have to throw up, there's a bag in front of you,” the man in the white lab coat said. He said it like he was trying to reassure me, but in reality, he sounded less reassuring and more forced. In fact, he seemed disappointed somehow, like I was his child and I had just done something really bad.
Of course, I had done something bad. And I suppose he had every right to be less than happy with me given the current situation we were in. I should have drank more water, not a liter of diet soda. I should have eaten something more than lo mein. I should really keep myself in better health in general. But as I don't tend to really think about my body or my long term future, I found myself in this situation, a needle sticking out of my arm, my mind fuzzy, and nausea embracing me with this sickly hug.
Before that day, I never donated plasma. Donate is the wrong word. Donate implies you're just giving your plasma away. And I wasn't. I was selling it. Perfectly legitimate business transaction. People need plasma. Companies like this one will buy your plasma and sell it to hospitals and the like.
You can make money. And you are helping a lovely cause. It's all great.
Unless you don't drink enough water or take care of your body. And then you find yourself in trouble.
At first, I thought the nausea that swept over me was because I might just be more afraid of needles than I would have liked to admit to myself. But then the sensation kept growing and I felt lightheaded. One of the attendants dressed in nurse's scrubs walked by and asked if I was okay.
I don't think I spoke. I don't remember saying anything. But I did shake my head in the negative, and before I knew it, I was surrounded by two other people in scrubs and the aforementioned man in the white lab coat, with his very serious expression, one that could make anyone feel like they've let their father down.
Funny thing is I was already good at letting my father down. So I've seen that look a million times before. When I wrecked my car having only just had it for three days. The look. Getting kicked out of college after my father made a huge donation to the school to help ensure my successful acceptance into said school. The look. The time I committed tax fraud. The look.
Now, you might be questioning my integrity as a human being. Fair enough. I'm not the greatest of guys. I'll admit to that right up front. But I'm still a human being, yeah? I have needs. I have wants and desires. I have to eat. I have to sleep. I have to piss.
All that stuff.
And it's not like I ever killed anyone. Well, before that day. But we'll get to that later. Reality is, this run in with the plasma donation place was just the beginning to what would be a long and ultimately painful, unhappy day.
I mean, some good came of all of this. Some. I think. I hope. But again, there's so much to get to. And I'm not used to telling people stories. In spite of everything, I'm still a pretty shy person. Been that way my whole life.
I don't know what it is, really. My dad. He ain't shy. The man can talk to anyone and convince them of anything. He doesn't pull punches either, my dad. He coulda called Richard Nixon that he was, in fact, a crook, right to ol' Tricky Dick's face. And Nixon would just embrace my father and thank him for his consideration.
Because my dad is the kind of person with a power that very few people have. It's a kind of people power. I think in times where countries gathered up real big armies and invaded other countries, built empires and shit like that, my dad would have been the guy leading the army.
He was like Napoleon, you know? Or all those other guys. I don't know all their names, because I didn't pay real good attention in school. Sort of jerked off most of the time. But you probably figured that when I said I got kicked out of the college that my father pushed to get me into.
Fact is, I'm nothing like my old man. He has direction in his life. Me, I can't get even get pricked with a fucking needle without my body turning to shit.
“Sir. If you feel the need to vomit, the bag is right in front of you,” the doctor guy said again. I don't know if he was a doctor. I don't really know how these places work. I just know that when I looked at my chest, there was a bag laying on it.
I was on my back, see, hooked up to this machine. They said something, when they first pricked me and started pulling out my blood, something to do with my blood going in this bowl inside the machine, and the machine spinning it so fast that it made the plasma stuff pull apart from the blood cells. Or something like that. I don't know. It's all Greek, as they say.
Well, suddenly, once I wasn't doing so well, we had one of the nurse-looking people clamping these plastic, vice things on the tube that was coming out of me, and getting ready to pull the needle out.
Another was holding the bag up to my mouth in case I spewed. And there were probably other things going on too, but my memory is a little fuzzy on the whole deal.
Last time I try to give plasma. It seemed promising. I need the money. What with my father cutting me off and all.
Seriously. For the first time in my life, on that lovely little day, I had nowhere to fall back on. No job possibilities, no skills or talents, nothing I could use. I wasn't good at anything. I couldn't talk to people very well. Something my father taught me when I was growing up was that people who weren't good at many things but had excellent speaking and communication skills could always compensate for a lack of ability, or education, or even connections, connections being the thing that my father always said were the most important.
Being able to talk your way out of anything was why politicians were the way they were, and why they were in charge.