Saturday, October 16, 2004

A giant vat

At the Christmas banquet my first year of grad school, I was sitting at a table with several professors and other grad students. One of the grad students was a second year who had a lot of opinions and a lot of personality. This deadly combination typically resulted in long-winded diatribes about a variety of topics. Because he was usually talking about things that I didn’t know about, I generally assumed that he knew what he was talking about.

That Christmas, however, I found out the truth. We were talking about blood donations for some reason, and Know-It-All said, “I never donate blood. I don’t think that their AIDS tests are 100% accurate, and I don’t believe in contributing to a contaminated source.” There was a pause, while everyone gazed at Know-It-All, digesting this.

“Um,” I said. “They don’t mix the blood together. They keep it separate.”

“But they don’t keep it those little bags, do they?” Know-It-All asked.

“Yeah. Yeah, they do,” I reassured him. Know-It-All glanced around at the rest of the table and saw that everyone was nodding their heads in that way that you do when you feel sorry for the person you’re talking to. You know, where you sort of sigh and press your lips together while smiling knowingly but a little sadly.

Whenever I look back on this story, I wonder what exactly Know-It-All was picturing in his mind. At what point did he imagine they pooled the blood together? Did he realized the blood is kept refrigerated? The image that comes to my mind is of a giant vat of blood with a spigot. A giant, festering, vat of O-positive in every hospital in the land, and maybe some guy on a landing stirring it to keep it from clotting.

1 comment:

Leah Lar said...

This is a common phenomenon in science. For example, the girl in the lunchroom in my current company who said that eating tofu every day would be such an awful thing because it is a source of fat and also such a "gross animal by-product." Everyone just nodded because, well, really, what do you say at that point?