Saturday, June 23, 2007

Three Donations

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.


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.


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.


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.


threecollie said...

All of us who read Pure Florida know that you are one of the good ones...and really you did FOUR good know you did.
You bought milk. lol

robin andrea said...

Fourth donation: Compassion.

You are truly a good and kind man, FC.

SophieMae said...

Now that's the difference between a cracker and a mere native. You actually brought tears to my eyes. Bless your li'l ol' pea-pickin' heart! What a great way to start the day!

AND you made me want red rice. Gotta go find me some sausage and maters and.....

SO, you're making me discontent with the upper Gulf coast and sabotaging my diet. Remind me..... WHY do I keep coming back here??? ;]

rcwbiologist said...

Thanks for being so compassionate, it seems to be lacking in so many aspects of our society these days. My grandfather just turned 94 last month, and is as spry as a 70 year old. He had quadruple heart bipass surgery last year at 93. I guess he's good for at least another 50 and I'm sure glad I have his genes and that of my grandmother who lives in England and just turned 89.

vicki said...

This post made me sad and tearful. I always hope that Bud runs into someone like you when he goes to town to get his lottery ticket or a couple screws at the hardware store. I really do. Thanks.

ImagineMel said...

well, I must say, you have the most interesting things happen to you at the center of the LC universe...

apparently you had no little/big boys with you begging for food or weaponry! :)

you are gaining lots of stars in that crown sir!

Cathy S. said...

You made me cry, too.

Deb said...

Lots of good karma points there! You probably made that man's day.

I'm thinking of making your mojo chicken for dinner, although I probably won't attempt the perlow stuff. Yet.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

The "guess which one" is a no-brainer. You're a good man, FC.

pablo said...

I'm scheduled to give blood next week. This will be my first trip back since the disasterous trip to Africa in December. They tell me my blood is now safe.

Scott said...

PC, very nice story, like you I often get questions like these in the Local Walmart/Publix. We both must have that "I am here to be of Service" look to us. It's amazing what some our Seasoned Citizens will tell us on such short notice about their lives. I am thinking you will find Arthur again and make him a little part of your family. The Good Lord works in Mysterious Ways.

Yours in the Bond
Scott from Florida Native Musings.

Thunder Dave said...

You're a good man FC!
Although I was really hoping that you had an answer for the clock, I've got issues with mine too! ;-)

Hey, I just heard the good news that the Bald Eagle might be taken off the endangered list this week. What a comeback story that is!

Floridacracker said...

That milk deed is an every other day one in this house. Jr can eat cereal about 3 times a day.

Thanks. I love the random acts of kindness idea.

I'm not sure why you do, but I'm glad you do!

Wow, those are good genes!
That's a blessing.

I know what you mean. I always hope my folks are running into good, patient people when they do their errands or go for a drive.

The really amazing thing is that I didn't see YOU there!
I have a long way to go in the star in the crown department.

Cathy S,
Welcome back! How was that trip?
Sorry for the tears.

Good luck with your mojo :)
I really liked it, but I'm a sucker for Cuban food anyway. Mojo works on pork too!

Yeah, you guessed it. He keeps popping into my thoughts actually.

It's a fine thing you're doing. They always ask about African travel, but I didn't realize they make you wait 6 months.

I think loneliness has a lot to do with their willingness to open up. All it takes sometimes is a smile or some other opening...

Well, you know the truth about me, but these other folks don't have your insight ... shhh.
That eagle comeback is courtesy of Florida the state who supplied eggs and chicks to the rest of the country after DDT was banned.
Oh yeah! Florida rules!

pissed off patricia said...

You have a mountain of good karma coming your way. Bet on it!

Floridacracker said...

Hey! Welcome back from Sanibel!
This Karma thing ... should I buy two lottery tickets?

scott said...

FC, I owe you one. I have not donated blood for the past 2 ½ years. I had received a couple of units following a surgery and was under the impression that receiving blood products would disqualify me for life. Reading your post made me research and it looks like I can resume donating. Thanks.

Floridacracker said...

Neat! What a great post-post effect

Cathy S. said...

Vacation was wonderful. Daytona, St. Augustine, Amelia Island, Savannah, St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, Gainesville, and Micanopy. I tolerated my husband's motorcycle, he tolerated two horse back rides, two carriage rides, two lighthouses and a zillion museums! I think I got the better end of the deal and since we weren't squashed by a semi, I lived to tell about it.

Floridacracker said...

Cathy S,
Of your list, I've lived in St. Aug and Savannah!
Vacations are so much more enjoyable when you live to tell about it.
What kind of bike are we talking about?

Cathy S. said...

We took the Yamaha FJR, a sport touring bike. It is the latest aquisition in the fleet. It was supposed to be more comfortable, therefore, he bought it for my benefit, but I am not convinced. :0) I don't like having to wash in the middle of the week due to being limited on luggage, and I couldn't take my laptop, but otherwise it was okay. You need to take your crew to Amelia Island someday if you have never been. We stayed at a little hotel called the Beachfront Motelright on the ocean. There are some cool shops in Fernandina, a Civil War fort and horseback riding in the state park. Lots of fun.

Cathy S. said...

I was wrong, it was the Beachside Motel.