The last post concerned giving something to the employees; this one covers taking something very precious and valuable from them. In many ways, this one had more to do with building community than the other.
Shortly after I began my apprenticeship in 1971, flyers were put up announcing the upcoming blood drive. I mentioned this at home and my father told me in no uncertain terms that I would be participating. A WWII veteran, he gave as often as permitted and it was his firm belief that being a blood donor was your “rent for being alive and healthy.”
At the shop, it was clear that Dad’s attitude was widespread. I put my name on the list before witnessing the “encouragement” heaped upon other newcomers and the “slackers” from previous years. Department supervisors were under pressure to deliver 100% participation and had been trained to combat the expected excuses, much like I can imagine the horror this situation fosters for some of you younger readers. Was teasing, nagging, and pranking those who refused to donate “fair?” Obviously not but times were different back then. That “Greatest Generation” you have heard so much about? They did not win a world war and rebuild an international economy by stopping to ask about hurt feelings and philosophical objections.
Most departments got well over 90% of their people to at least attempt to donate. Scheduling had to be carefully done to avoid interrupting operations, but that did not interfere with the gang setting up wagering pools for fastest donation time and likely rejections.
Blood drives are far different today. We hosted one at our church recently and the Red Cross was happy to collect ten pints. An aging donor base, better surgical techniques that require less blood and more donor restrictions are factors. So is the reduction in the number of large industrial organizations and the unwillingness of management to participate.
I still abide by my father’s rule that donating is my “rent for being healthy and alive.” If you have an opportunity to donate this life saving fluid, I urge you to make the effort.