I went to give blood earlier this week. It was less than wonderful, but I think if I remembered to drink a LOT more water during the day, it would have gone better.
As I was sitting in the post-donation "canteen" area, I noticed that they'd changed the wall decoration. They used to have a number of sections with Polaroid shots of different people, each with a gallon number, to show how many gallons each person had donated. So, eight pints (a pint is about how much you donate at a time, except it's really 500 grams rather than a volume now) to a gallon means that someone who's donated five gallons has donated 40 times. That's something like 5 years of donating steadily.
There were pictures of people on the wall who have donated 13 and 14 gallons. Now, if you think about it, that means they've never been really, really ill, probably never traveled to places that defer donation schedules (I was deferred for five years after living in a malaria area with prophylaxis), etc. So maybe they've been lucky and safe homebodies.
When I passed the five gallon mark (for this center) this past year, I was sort of surprised that they didn't take my picture, but I figured maybe they weren't thinking of it.
And then this week, the pictures have all been replaced by little red paper crosses with names on them (I donate at a Red Cross center) in the gallon sections. So I noticed and asked the nurse who was making sure I didn't faint while I ate my mini-Oreos (I love Oreos!), and she said that since Polaroid no longer makes instant film, they can't take quick pictures, so they don't have pictures up any more.
And I was sort of sad. I liked seeing the people who donate. Some of the pictures had been taken while people were sitting in the canteen where I was sitting right then. Some were taken with people's arms with the needle-bag contraption still attached. A few were taken post-donation, with someone smiling while s/he held the one arm straight up and held a gauze pad against the inside elbow with the other hand. In all of them, people were smiling, looking happy.
And now we have these crosses, which are too like the crosses you sometimes see in cemeteries (or maybe it's just the American Cemetery at Normandy from D-Day whose image is so stuck in my head?) to have the same sense of, I don't know, happy service?
And all for want of Polaroid film...