By Mike Tierney, Red Cross volunteer

Adding to my wardrobe was not part of the mission on a rare coronavirus-era excursion to the neighborhood mall, which was a good thing. 

The shelves and racks in the men’s clothing showroom were empty. The chain of stores that once operated in this space had shuttered nationwide amid bankruptcy proceedings. 

Its loss was the Red Cross’ gain. Ever searching for different and unusual blood donor sites, it had set up shop in an abandoned shop for the day, and I looked forward to deviate from my usual circuit — libraries, schools, churches, recreation centers and parking lots — to contribute. 

The young woman on duty told me that she has drawn blood at even more unconventional places. The Hollywood Pantages Theater, for one. And the Magic Castle in Hollywood, where magicians strolled about perfecting their tricks. 

Recent or upcoming SoCal spots include Skateland, a roller-skating rink in Northridge, and Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, though downing a pint of brew after giving a pint of blood is ill-advised. The Red Cross recommends abstaining for the rest of the day. 

So far, there have been no reports of a set-up at a bar with a mechanical bull, as the innovative Red Cross folks in St. Louis arranged. 

At my location in the mall, five doors down from Macy’s, nearly all evidence that a clothier had sold garments inside these walls was stripped away. About the only tell-tale remaining sign was in the rear, where a lavatory was situated across from the changing rooms. However, being in the mall opened the opportunity of finding a sports coat. No such luck, but at least I could have almost killed two birds with one stone. . 

The donor process has been unchanged since the dawn of the pandemic, according to my aide. Precautions to keep the guests safe — tables spread out, gloves changed and gear wiped down after each procedure — are observed. 

She did note that business in recent weeks was booming, in large part because the Red Cross added testing for COVID-19 antibodies with each donation. 

As she poked around my left arm, I wondered how long this procedure would take. My veins can be uncooperative, and extra time is often required to extract the needed amount of blood. At least once, they were especially resistant, and I was sent home without a drop being drained from either arm. 

However, I was on and off the table inside 15 minutes, much quicker than I had figured. There was still plenty of time to try on shirts and slacks, were there any still in stock. 

I cannot wait to schedule the next visit at an off-beat setting. Hoping for Arena — while the Lakers are warming up for a game.


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