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February 19, 2024

Oort Cloud Oddities: Cantina

By Alexandra Queen

The donut shop was crowded and filled with screeching kids. The guy behind the counter had been up since 2 a.m. and obviously hated everybody because of it. My sleeve stuck to our table every time I set my arm down. When my husband stood up to stop our toddler from eating what she had found underneath her chair, there were crumbs all over his backside like teeny monuments to the people who had sat here before.

It was a tough price to pay, but when you really need a donut fix, there's only so much you can do.

I sighed deeply. "I really wish it was soon enough to give blood again."

Keep your Krispy Kremes -- the Delta Blood Bank on Orangeburg in Modesto is a true donut lover's paradise. After you have your blood drawn, they have you wait in the cantina for a bit, so you don't pass out in the parking lot. It's great! Comfy chairs, pristine surroundings, friendly faces, free juice and coffee -- plus all the donuts you can eat in fifteen minutes.

It's even worth the trauma you have to go through to get there. I'm not talking about the blood and the needles. They have compassionate, trained professionals to get you easily through that part. I'm talking about that gruesome questionnaire you have to fill out before they'll take your blood.

"Have you used a dirty needle or taken money for depraved acts since 1977 or filed joint income tax statements with someone who has? Have you ever had blood splashed in your face? Did you get any in your mouth? Have you ever eaten a scab? Was it your own or somebody else's? Are any of your internal organs transplants from a pig or a mad cow? Have you ever had a skin graft of the covering over your brain? Do you currently have ebola? Are you suffering from Post Election Stress Trauma?"

"Who answers 'yes' to these questions!" I burst out, drawing the attention of the only other person in the waiting area. He was seven feet tall, green skinned and had bolts sticking out either side of his neck. Awkwardly, I glanced at his questionnaire. The "yes" column was checked all the way down. "Er, sorry," I said.

"Unnnnnnghhh," he groaned mournfully and went back to the form. Question 145b: "Have you ever been chased by an angry mob with torches and pitchforks?" He checked yes. I went to turn in my form and cheered myself up thinking about the donuts.

The only problem with the system is you can only give blood every eight weeks. "Ma'am, your time was up ten minutes ago," the cantina volunteer reminded me last time I was there.

I choked down my fifth donut, pointed to the guy next to me and tried not to spew crumbs as I said, "But I came in after him!"

"Unnnnnghh!" the tall green guy glared at me, ratting me out. Grudgingly, I picked up my things and left, but not before trying to go through a second time so I could get more donuts.

The girl up front was not fooled by my fake mustache. Or my "French" accent. Or my crayon-drawn ID. "You know, Mrs. Queen," she told me kindly, "there is another way to spend time in the cantina. Our volunteers back there are very important. If there isn't anybody there to keep an eye on the donors, we have to close the doors. You could come in once a week, more if you really wanted, and spend a couple of hours in the cantina. Think of the public service you'd be doing."

"And I could still eat donuts?" This was a lot better than my Plan B, which involved stealing a couple Blood Bank laptops, then deleting the records of when I was last here so I could go through and sit in the cantina again.

The girl pushed a flyer with the volunteer coordinator's phone number to me. "Yep. And if you know anyone who has been declined as a donor, this is still a great way for them to help out. Right, Frank?" We both looked over to where the big green guy was cheerfully filling Styrofoam cups with juice.

"Unnnnnngh!" he gave us a thumbs up.

If you are interested in donating either time or blood, you can contact Delta Blood Bank at (888) 94-BLOOD. You can also check out a list of volunteer responsibilities at www.deltabloodbank.org.

This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.

Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-03-06
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