Yesterday, one of our EMS instructors asked me if we had a TV on campus. I knew that something must be wrong--people don't ask for a TV so they can catch up on their viewing of cartoons. I thought about 2001, when we gathered around the TV at the University of Miami where I taught; we were desperate for more information in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
We have no TVs on campus--I was a bit startled to realize that. Once, I arrived at a campus where every classroom had a TV/VCR combo, and I thought I had landed at a place that had big budgets. Now we expect a computer in every classroom and office. That's how we caught up with news yesterday, with the larger computers and the small ones that we call our cell phones.
Yesterday's news: a bridge collapse at Florida International University. FIU was on Spring Break, so that's good--it could have been worse. The bridge wasn't yet open to pedestrian traffic, so it could have been worse. It didn't happen at rush hour--it could have been worse.
Still, it's pretty bad. And it's the second time in two months where I've written to my family to let them know that I wouldn't have been at a area school where a tragedy occurred, and my spouse wouldn't have been either.
We were having a Spring into Health event at my school yesterday. Once a quarter we have this event that serves several purposes: it's a fun event for students, it's a pre-Orientation event for students who will join us next quarter, and it's an open house for potential students and the community. The bloodmobile was parked in the front parking lot.
I confess that I don't give blood as often as I should. I hate needles, and I hate that the pre-giving process takes so long. Part of me understands why they need to ask so many questions, but part of me says, "You're going to test my blood, so let's just get this underway." No, I've never had sex for money or injected myself with anything with a needle or . . . .
I lead a very boring life, in terms of infectious disease, which makes me a perfect candidate for giving blood. I no longer have the low blood pressure of my long distance running youth, but I'm still healthy. But I hate needles.
Yesterday, as the news trickled in about the bridge collapse, I thought about donating blood. I finally decided to do it during the end of the bloodmobile's stay. If anything went wrong, I'd soon be heading home.
Nothing went wrong, of course. The only thing that's ever gone wrong was when I donated during a very low blood pressure day, and the bag just didn't fill. As possibilities go, that's not too bad. One of my colleagues fainted yesterday.
My experience last night was perfect. I headed to the bloodmobile bus at 6:10, and I was done just before 7--the actual taking of the blood took about 12 minutes. The phlebotomist was gentle and kind--the qualities I need in someone who approaches me with a needle.
As I sat in the chair, squeezing the rubber ball, I offered prayers for those who needed our blood. I said several prayers of thanks for my boring life which has resulted in my clean and healthy blood. I offered prayers for all the people I know who cannot donate blood.
And then I prayed for us all, in this larger, crumbling world.