Frances Bea (frances_bea) wrote,
Frances Bea

A copy of an email I just sent to the Red Cross

This is the message I sent. Do you think I was being unreasonable?

Yesterday evening after work I went to my scheduled blood donation appointment, where an incident involving a disagreement with one of the drive staff caused me to leave without donating. I'm still uncertain whether what the staff member told me had any truth to it.

When I arrived and checked in, I began the standard ritual by looking through the educational materials, seeing if anything had changed in the last two months. I noticed that quite a few countries listed as five year cumulative deferrals were highlighted, though most were not. Though my own travel history wouldn't make this an issue, (I have been to only one of the listed countries and for the length of a two-hour layover,) I idly asked the volunteer at the check-in table whether the highlighting had any significance. The question was intercepted by a staff member who told me that this was because the rest were six months. This answer made very little sense, but I assumed that the question had been misunderstood and dropped the issue as she seemed irritated with the first question and probably would not appreciate a follow-up. (Later I overheard a suggestion that the list of countries had grown, so perhaps the highlighted countries were new. I'm still not certain, but that would make sense.)

When I was later called in to begin the interview portion of the donation process, this same staff member situated herself against a window well outside of the space where the interview was taking place, but in my direct line of sight. I decided that she was most likely on a break and had chosen not to take it outside or away from the drive. As the interview began, I noticed that she began to drift closer and was clearly at least partially listening to the interview. I decided she must be bored, and a bit nosy. As she continued to inch closer, so that she was no longer outside of the interview cubby, I became uncomfortable with this level of nosiness. Finally, when we got to the point where my interviewer was pricking my finger, she was standing behind the interviewer looking over her shoulder.

At this point I felt compelled to ask her whether she was present as an observer, or was just standing there. She told me that my interviewer was a trainee, so she was there to observe all of her interactions. I told her that while I had no problem with that, I was concerned that in a few minutes I would be asked to sign a statement saying that I had been asked before my interview was observed, while I had not been. She told me that those rules didn't apply to her because she was Red Cross Staff. Those rules only applied to outside observing agencies. She didn't need my permission to observe trainees. While I have read the statement many times, once for each past donation, I didn't remember exactly what it said, and was willing to suppose that as a staff member her knowledge of the rules might be better than my memory of the statement. And, while my interviews have been observed in the past and I was asked for permission, perhaps those staff members were simply more polite than this one. I told her that was good news, and asked if I could see a copy of the statement to double check. She responded that the statement was just for me to swear that my answers to all the questions had been true, and told me she wasn't sure she was comfortable with me donating if I was unwilling to sign the statement. I suppose that with the increasingly paperless process, it might have been hard for her to put her hand on a copy of the statement before the process gets to that point. I told her that I was willing to accept her assurances about what the statement said, though I didn't feel I needed to remind her that I would be reading the statement for myself soon enough. This seemed to be enough for her, and she stopped acting like she was going to throw me out, took a pace back, and allowed the process to continue.

When I finished answering the questions on the computer, the staff person who came in to complete the interview was new. This is quite common, so I have no idea whether it was affected by the earlier disagreement. We quickly got to the stage of signing the statement, and I had the opportunity to check it for myself. I found that far from being excluded from that particular rule, Red Cross Staff were explicitly included. I also found that I could have signed the statement honestly, as it read that in the event someone had asked to observe, I had been given an opportunity to decline. As I had not been asked, this didn't technically apply to the situation, though I think it should have in spirit if not in letter. But, as I sat there looking at the statement, I decided that not only was I extremely reluctant to sign the statement, I was at least as reluctant to lie down and bleed in a room with that particular individual present. I simply said, "I think I should leave," picked up my belongings and left the drive. I would have sent an email last night, but I was too on edge. I suppose it's just the fact that I'm unused to dealing with such disagreeable people that I am not very good at it. If she had asked my permission before the interview instead of sidling in the way she did, I would have granted it, donated, left, and still disliked her a bit, but not felt so uncomfortable as I did when I felt she was trying to browbeat me into signing a false statement. Or, if she had not been so difficult, I probably would have used the wording of the statement to justify signing and just let the issue go.

At this point, it's my intention to wait a few days before I make a new appointment at a different drive. I thought about sending an email that merely requested clarification of the rules so I will know how to react appropriately should something similar happen in the future. But, having slept on it, I find that I am still angry and I wanted to express that. Though, I would in fact appreciate a clarification on some of the rules.
Tags: angry email, blood donation, difficult people
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