Thursday, March 10, 2022

Microstory 1839: Bad Blood

I donated whole blood every 56 days for decades before I had to stop. Back then, it was legal for a child of at least 14 years in my country to donate. They raised the age up to 16 while I was still 15, but they grandfathered me into it, because I was so dedicated. It was a girl I liked in school who got me into it. She was so pretty, she always wore this big black bow in her hair, and I would have done anything for her. She organized a blood drive, and I was one of the few kids who took her up on it, so we actually did become friends. I thought my tactic was working until she confided in me that she liked girls. We remained close, because I didn’t have a problem with it, and by then, I was already heavily invested in the blood donation thing. I scheduled classes around it, I scheduled my vacations around it. I made sure everyone who ever needed me for anything knew that I wouldn’t be able to help them on particular days. Over time, the donation process became faster and more efficient, so it was easier to schedule other things, but I still had to be careful. If I waited even one extra day for my next appointment, I would feel like I was letting someone down. I felt compelled to maximize my availability. I got to know the people at the clinic. They could count on me to always show up with clean blood. I knew their names, and even hung out with them outside of their work. Meanwhile, I was working in a factory. Do you know those little wheels in the center of computer mouses? You spin them, and it scrolls the elevator on the screen? Yeah, we make those. My boss is literally the one who invented them. Before that, we worked together to make other early computer parts, but she brought me on when she started her own company.

That was when the clinic moved locations. They didn’t move for me. I had inspired my boss to get involved in charity work. Donating a portion of our building to a brand new state-of-the-art clinic was a great way to get the word out about what we do. Everyone loves that kind of mouse, because it makes using a machine so much easier, and we all but monopolized it. Anyway, my life was good for a time. I was making great money, and never had to waver in my commitment to giving blood. One day, in the middle of my recovery cycle, the train I was on went off the rails. Dozens of people died, and the rest of us were very badly injured. We needed blood. We needed a lot of it. I remember thinking that this was going to screw up my schedule for the rest of my life, but as it turned out, that was the least of my problems. A few weeks later, I was doing fine, and eagerly awaiting the day I could get back to giving back. I had a lot to make up for. A lawyer showed up at my door to deliver me some bad news. Apparently, a mixup at a different clinic resulted in the transfusion of blood from a gay man. I’m like, “so the hell what?” Well, he explained that gay people transmitted STDs, so they weren’t allowed to donate blood. Okay, the guy lied on his form, but he didn’t even have a bloodborne disease! Now, you’ll remember that my best friend was a lesbian, and we grew up in the subculture together, because I was an ally. I had experimented a bit myself too, and I didn’t absolutely hate it. I was pissed. I knew that this was a law, but hadn’t thought much about it. I fought and protested, but nothing changed. So many people could die because of an outdated discriminatory law. So I did something foolish. I recorded myself having relations with a man, and sent it to the president of the national organization that ran my clinic. He was appalled, and decided to use his power to ban me for life.

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