Saturday, June 30, 2012

Then and Now 40 - Blood Lost

Then and Now 40 - Blood Lost
Time: Mid-2007, single and at the hostel.

One night, I was walking around the train station, enjoying the sights of a couple of stores and taking a nice walk. Near the end of my exploration, I came to a dead end. The ceiling was moderately high, and there were bright lights shining down on the floor, illuminating a fountain in the middle of the area, and a couple of businesses to my right. One of them had several people waiting in chairs outside, so I went to have a closer look at what was going on there.

It was a blood donation center. It had been around a month since I last donated and talked with the biker at my bud's aunt's place in Then and Now 29, so I knew it was about time to do my part again. I went in and got a few interested looks from the nurses there; apparently, they didn't get too many foreigners looking to help out the locals.

They tried to speak to me in broken English, but I switched our conversation to the local language, and peppered it with simple words when I couldn't find the vocabulary I was looking for. I told them that I wanted to donate, and they brought out a registration form that was written in odd English. I answered most of the questions well enough by checking "No" on all the boxes that asked if you were a leper, until I came to a question with confusing grammar. It was something like, "You haven't had gonorrhea, haven't you?"

I answered "No" because every other question had the same answer. But when the ladies got the paper back, one looked at me strangely. The other one smirked, circled the words "haven't you?" and asked in the local language if I had the disease. After I assured her that I didn't, she corrected the paper to say "Yes." We had a laugh, then I went to the next step of having my blood tested. Not only did they go for the blood in my finger, one of the most horrible places to get stuck with a needle, but they chose the ring finger on my left hand, one of the most sensitive spots on my body. I can still feel the pain as I type this. Shortly after, I climbed on one of the recliners, watched local TV while they took a bag or two, then got my cookies and juice. I thanked the ladies, then was on my way.

I walked a little back from the dead end and found some stairs leading out of the shopping area I was in, and followed them up and out of the station, into the dark night. I came out on a busy street with the station at my back, and a row of local stores in front of me. One of them was a convenience store with a beautiful girl working the counter, and another was a toy store run by a middle-aged man, still open at that hour. I waved hello to both of them, then headed down the street to see what else I could see.

As I walked down the road and past an interminable number of stores, the hour grew later and later. Soon enough, when I had left the vicinity of the station, the cars on the road had long disappeared, there were no lights in any stores, and I was navigating by the lonesome glimmer of streetlights. I came to a sleepy part of town where several darkened stores sat on either side of the road, with trees placed at even intervals on the sidewalks in front of them. I saw a local or two pass by on the other side of the street, but otherwise, I was all alone on that peaceful night.

As time drew on, I realized I was lost, and I didn't know the city well enough to gauge where the hostel was. I was also on a tight budget, so I really didn't want to hop a taxi or a bus to get back to where I was going. Using standard guesswork by deducing where the train station was, and where I knew the hostel was in relation to it, I picked a good direction to walk in until I could see something familiar. I turned right on one of the roads and walked up it until I came to the edge of an unfamiliar river. There weren't any bridges in sight to the east or west, so I started to feel even more confused about where I was.

The road in front of the river was a T. Behind me was the main street, and the T turned left and ran next to the river to pass by a gas station and some dark houses. On the right, I came across a good sight: it was a park, dimly lit by a single light. There was a slide, a swingset, and a jungle gym, all standing in shadow. I thought it was some kind of hidden underground army base, maybe because of the way the light glinted off the metal, or maybe because I was flashing back to that great night on the mountain in Then and Now 6.

Eventually, after taking a left on the road then walking northeast for as long as I could, I eventually came across a familiar street and found my way back to the hostel. It was completely quiet when I got back, nobody in sight. Ken was out, and May had already moved out, so I tiptoed down the hall to the guys' dorm and carefully opened my squeaky locker to get my toiletries, hoping I wouldn't wake up the one or two guys in there who were sleeping. A quick shower later, I hit the hay.

As for today...

I woke up at 8:30.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I drove to another school.
I taught students.
I went out to tutor students.
I came home to an empty house.
I played video games.
I prepared teaching lessons.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I did the dishes.
I showered my son.
I slept.

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