The answering machine message requested my presence and my blood at the local blood bank so I added that to my errand list before heading into town. I had a short list of things to do ... print a picture of my big brother and his son, get milk, exchange the propane cooking tank for a new one .... and now, donate blood.
FIRST DONATION: Blood
I decided to donate blood first. The blood tech took me back to the private room where she checks your vitals (pulse 64, BP 118/76) and asks you the long and ever changing set of embarrassing questions.
After that, I got to stretch out on the loungey chair, drink a juice box of Gatorade, and pump out a pint of the red stuff. That took about 5 minutes and I was out the door with a new blood donor T-shirt.
Next on my list was Walmart for the tank exchange, photos, milk etc.
I did the gas exchange first because they don't let you walk around the store with explosives. This is a good policy I think.
Back in the store for the photos, I noticed both of the do it yourself digital printing machines were occupied so I poked around the store and picked up my other items.
When I checked again, the same family was still there. They must be about finished I thought, so I lined up behind them. It was then I heard the daughter in the family say, "Mom, you know we have 128 pictures."
Arrrrghh. I walked around some more.
When I came back, the Walmart clerk was reloading a huge roll of photo paper into the machine as the same family hovered nearby. When she finished, they resumed printing.
The Mom looked at me and said she was sorry. I told her not to worry about it, they were there first.
Finally, they finished and I stepped up to print my photos.
SECOND DONATION: Time
As I was poking and prodding the printmaking machine, an old man came rolling up on one of those electric scooter things. He stopped beside me, looked up, and said,
"Are you an electronics man?"
Thinking he had mistaken me for a Walmart employee, I said, "No sir, I'm just making some prints."
"No, I mean, do you know anything about electronics?"
"Um, I know a little ..."
He reached into a crumpled bag in his scooter cart and pulled out a battered digital clock / thermometer combination device. It was the kind you hang on a wall with a wire sensor that ran outside to monitor temperature. The design was old and the display was that boring black and grey typical of early digital devices. I think he had owned it for a long time. The time display showed 7:01, exactly 2 hours fast.
"This thing is two hours fast and I can't get it set right. Do you think you could fix it?"
"Well, I don't know" I replied, "but I'll look at it if you like."
So for the next 5 minutes, about the time it takes to give blood, I pushed the various reset buttons on the device. I thought this would be a no brainer and a quick fix, but the stubborn device refused to change it's settings even when I pushed the time set button and then the hour button. Finally, it became obvious that this device was not going to reset.
"I'm sorry, but I can't get it to work either" I said.
" Well, you're a young man ... still got all you hair (God bless him, he was too short in that scooter to see the top of my head) if you can't fix it, I suppose it's broke for good." He put it back in the crumpled bag.
"Where are you from?" he asked.
I told him and he stuck out his hand. "I'm Arthur, glad to meet you."
We shook hands and then his tone changed, " I'm on my way out I guess, he paused here and for a minute, I thought he meant "on his way out of the store", but then he continued ... I'm 95 and this stress is wearing me down."
My prints dropped out of the machine, but I left them.
"Yes, sir, stress is tough on us, but you look pretty good for 95." He smiled at that, but in truth he did, I would have put him at about 75.
"Well, my wife died about a month ago ..." He stopped, choked up, and then stifled it the way men do, "... and I miss her."
I told him I was sorry for his loss, asked about his kids (two, in their 60's) and we talked a little longer. Even though I was pretty sure his 80's era digital wall clock was not fixable, I suggested he try the Walmart clerks in the nearby electronic section. I knew they couldn't fix it either, but I didn't want to leave him without some hope.
He thanked me again and rolled off down the aisle.
I watched him go and then finished my shopping.
THIRD DONATION: Money
At the checkout aisle, the cashier began ringing up my items. I was still thinking about Arthur and his broken heart. As the bar code reader chirped, a women laid one of those bars across the checkout counter to separate her stuff from my stuff. She began unloading her cart.
The cashier finished and as she handed me my bags, I noticed a bottle of lotion in one of my bags.
"Oh hey, I didn't buy any lotion." I said holding it up.
The cashier gave me that "are you sure?" look.
I turned to the lady behind me, "Is this yours? I think it fell over the bar."
Yes, it was.
"Well, this is your lucky day, because I just bought you a bottle of lotion." She offered to pay me for it, but I told her it was my good deed for the day. She laughed and thanked me.
I didn't tell her it was my third good deed for the day.
Guess which one is going to stick in my memory.