This is how it happened:
My Thursday began in the usual way. Bad breath, tousled hair, and a scratch of the ass or two for good measure. Hurried breakfasts and goodbyes, followed by walks to the bus stop. Nothing at all out of the ordinary, save for the weather, which had finally warmed slightly.
Work was work. It was a day, similar to any other day, spent pounding keyboard and cracking jokes with co-workers, scribbled grocery lists appearing in the margins of my notebook. Chick peas, spinach, and apples, but not those apples that Jackson doesn't like, because God help you if you buy the wrong apples and have to eat the entire bag by yourself. Don’t screw this up, Meads. Just don’t.
At lunch I returned a surprise phone call to a lovely woman at the CRA, who brought to light a discrepancy in a previous year’s tax return. Long story short, through no fault of my own (this almost makes it feel worse) I owe the government money. Yeah, so, what else is new? Have you even seen my student loan balance? That’s what I thought. Moving right along...
Scribbled grocery lists then became reworked budgets, a process I seem to go through almost daily. Entertainment budget? Slashed. Debt repayment? Doubled. Let’s punch that monkey on my back in the face a few times, shall we? Push that much needed haircut back a month, too. It can wait a little longer, and besides, that’s what hair ties are for anyway, amiright?
Having grown weary of budgeting (imagine that), I found myself aimlessly browsing the internet. Well, not aimlessly exactly; I was on the lookout for volunteer gigs that were a) nearish home and b) interesting.
I found something, by the way, but that’s a whole ‘nother post for a whole ‘nother day.
A quick Google search of “volunteer positions Winnipeg” somehow brought me to a Kijiji ad with the following text:
Volunteers are need in the evenings and on weekends for Stenberg College. Students are learning how to draw blood. There is a two poke maximum per person. For each needle poke you will recieve [sic] $15 for Safeway (two pokes=$30 for Safeway). It will only take 20 minutes of your time! The lab is held at the Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks Hospital. If you are able to make it in the evening around 6pm or on weekends at noon, shoot me an email!
I read it, closed the tab, then CTRL+SHIFT+T’d that shit and read it again. Seriously? I thought. Is that actually a thing? So, naturally, I sent them a message.
Spoilers: It turns out that is, in fact, a thing.
After a few emails back and forth it became apparent that I was going to spend a portion of my life that weekend allowing students to stick needles into my arms for grocery money. Oh, and not only was I going to do so on Saturday, but I went ahead and volunteered my services for Sunday as well. Because I’m keen like that. I somehow managed to convince Jackson to come with me on Saturday as well, because hey, that’s an extra thirty bucks. For that kind of money someone could buy their own damn bag of apples! Just sayin'.
Saturday rolled around and, still half convinced that I was about to be lured to my death by some kind of needle-wielding serial killer, I hopped on a bus with Jackson and we made our way to Seven Oaks. Before I continue there are a few things you should know about that hospital:
- The Wellness Institute is rad, but I’m not sure how much I would love making laps around the indoor track while folks eyed up my every move from the cafe on the other side of the glass. I can imagine that being very distracting. Like, stop staring at me sir, also I can see your chicken salad sandwich and while it looks very good I would prefer if you could close your mouth while you chew, please and thanks and Tom Hanks.
- For something called “The Wellness Institute” there sure are a lot of mayonnaise-based “salad” sandwiches available. However, there are cranberries in the chicken salad, so that counts for something. I guess.
- The room where they draw blood samples is called, suitably enough, “The Blood Room”. That’s the kind of name that, for me, immediately conjures up images of that elevator opening up in The Shining. One might think that would be enough to make you NOPE the hell out of there, but apparently not. I did stand back a bit when they opened the door, though. I’m not a complete idiot. Vanessa: 1; River Of Blood: 0.
In the end it was all very anticlimactic. The students did well, and after going back on Sunday (solo this time, Jackson was busy) we had racked up a grand total of $90 in Safeway gift cards, which by my estimation is pretty darn good for approximately an hour of “work”. 10/10 would recommend. The End.
TL;DR I answered a Kijiji ad and allowed students to stick needles in my arms for grocery money. And I would do it again.