Last week I told you about the time a whole barracks of us sailors was drafted to give blood, but I left out the most memorable part of donating for the first time.
There was a major emergency in Baltimore, and so our Navy bus full of unwilling donors took the four-hour trip to lend a pint. Midway there, the bus was pulled over for speeding.
The trooper listened to our driver explain the dire situation and heard the rest of us chirp in our assurances that it was a mission of mercy.
“Yeah, yeah,” the trooper said, and wrote the ticket.
I’ve always had bad luck trying to do good deeds.
As a kid, I joined the Boy Scouts at school, which was miles away from home. I began receiving official Scout mail and a subscription to Boys’ Life magazine, but I never attended a Scout meeting because my father was a farmer who had no time to chauffeur kids around and my mother didn’t drive. Needless to say, I earned no merit badge for perfect attendance.
I kept trying. In high school, I joined the Civil Defense rescue team. We trained at night on our own time to find lost people and help accident victims. The instructor was so boring, I’m sorry to say, that I finally lost interest in public service and had to move on to other endeavors more exciting than rescuing people.
In college, I had three jobs – in the morning before classes, on the campus during the day, and at night before bedtime. One of my many duties during the day was to ride a golf cart-type vehicle around the campus and give parking tickets.
Now, you would have thought that was a noble public service in the late 1960s – peace and love and all that – but suddenly I was “the man” because I wielded a ticket book. Students who had parked illegally would argue me down over their tickets, call me vile names and threaten bodily harm. So much for peace.
“I just work here, man,” I would counter, but after a while, I tired of the abuse and actually looked forward to my other campus job, burning piles of pruned tree limbs, after which I would go to my next class sooty and reeking of smoke that differed from all the other smoky students.
Not long after, a van full of prom-goers crashed in front of me one night on a lonely highway. Using my rescue team tactics, I chased them down and wrapped them in the sheets I kept in my trunk for lying on at the beach. Only later, after they had all been taken away by ambulance, did I remember those sheets were coated with sand. Ouch!
Years later, a friend and I offered to chaperone a Sunday school class to the river for tubing. Those tweens were the roughest bunch of boys I’ve ever seen! They chased women, made rude gestures and used language I still don’t dare utter. Against our better judgment, at day’s end we took them all home alive.
Don’t let my sad attempts at public service sour you on good deeds, though. Go give blood. Just don’t speed.