Saturday, December 17, 2005

Brokedown Palace

If it seems like I update my corner of the blog-o-verse a) shiftily, b) sporadically, c) in staccato bursts, I apologize. I mean, that is an accurate assessment. Nevertheless, I apologize. Not long ago, my friend Speckles Bruns blew some smoke up my ass about how I had inspired him to recommit to his own blogging duties. I think we all know what he was saying was, "You disgust me." To Speckles, as to the rest of you gracious lords and ladies, I offer my sincere apologies. Fact is, even though I vowed some time ago to cut with the solipsism and make with the creative non-fiction, I have found myself notably bereft of either the energy or the wit necessary to produce anything other than the half-assed "Adams' Updates" I've been dropping on you like so many bird turds.

Bird the ones decorating my '87 Mazda 323 -- the car that just blew/bust/abandoned/magicked away its suspension system, so that for the second time in a month, I'm back on foot patrol. Or, as Fergus used to say, "taking the heel-toe express." As you can probably surmise, this was an absolutely stellar time for this to happen: less than two weeks before Christmas, with about 90% of my shopping left to do, and about 90% of my money gone.

What shopping, I hear you ask? We'll get back to that in a minute.

So anyway, I've been paying a few social calls at my ol' stomping grounds, ZLB Plasma -- and not even to catch a few bills for gas money or food or rent, like I normally do. This time, I'm getting sucked dry so that I can afford to mail everyone's gifts off this year. So everybody better like the small tokens of friendship and love that I literally gave my blood for.

I was back at ZLB this morning (having borrowed Bern's car to make the trek), where I discovered to my delight that some ironical soul was playing Queen of the Damned (fairly hackneyed vampire flick) to the throngs of sad souls who'd come to voluntarily leave a liter or two of Portland's Finest with the world-weary "tappers" who, let's face it, are just doing their jobs. Is it their fault that that the company they work for has just slashed five bucks off the "donation" fee? I mean, I'm sure they're not seeing any extra dough. They're treading water, just like the rest of us, because the folks behind the folks in the lab coats know that, if I'm desperate enough to let you drain my blood and fill me with saline while I watch The Sixth Sense or Catwoman or X-Men or Die Another Day, I'm probably just desperate enough to let you get away with giving me 20 bucks instead of 25, the way you used to.

A friend of mine has just started using plasma donation as a way to make grocery money, even though I tried to talk him out of it. Where he lives, it's mostly female college students who go in for "the draw." The citizenry at the Hostile Hostel where I go is about 75-90% male, however, and while none of them is too savory, none looks completely down and out. There was a raucous discussion in the 2nd stage waiting room this morning about the way that plasma center owners must be raking it in, but everyone agreed that they couldn't be making nearly as much money as the payday advance or check-cashing people. We all nodded, because we all knew about those loans. Of course we did: if you're desperate enough to lie still for an hour or two while a couple feet of tubing whisk your blood away and return it to you, devoid of plasma, all the time praying that you get lucky in the weekly drawing and get an extra five bucks -- well, then you're probably desperate enough to promise to pay 500% interest on a hundred dollar loan.

Some tweaker leaned over to another guy in the waiting room and said that he hoped his pulse was slow enough for him to pass the medical tests today -- "yesterday, that bitch told me to leave. Oh well," he continued, "I just got a prescription for Percoset." He didn't explain how or where. "I'll take the money from today, go get the Percocet, take it back to my 'hood and sell it. I'll clear 45 bucks!"

That's the level of dreaming that goes on a plasma center. That's as far as your planning can take you. That's as far as you can take it. 45 bucks. It beats the 20-used-to-be-25 bucks you'll get for that hour or two on the beds, no doubt about it. When you break it down, you'll probably be earning about 10 bucks an hour for your pains. More than you make at your shitty job, anyway. Right?

I scored the win with the movie choice today, though. After narrowly escaping having to sit through My Big Fat Greek Wedding, some awesome soul slipped in Star Trek: First Contact. That's the one with the Borg Queen.

Resistance is futile, kids. Trust me on this one.


Anonymous said...

If you would just get your sweet little behind over here so we could finish the sweetest screenplay ever - and then work on some "sweet grooves" who Knows what could happen. Damn Baby! write me. T

Electric Mayhem said...

Broc -

Email me your address and phone #.