It was a dark and stormy night. Typical for October in Seattle. Shielding my eyes from the rain, I ventured across the parking lot with 5 of my friends toward the Georgetown Morgue with the kind of bravery I keep in reserve for only this time of year. We were going to pay money to be scared silly tonight. We purchased our tickets and headed for the back of the line.
I guess I didn’t realize how many of my fellow Seattle-lites enjoyed haunted houses. There were so many of them. Some dressed in costume, others under umbrellas, they all stood and chatted and engaged with roaming monsters up the length of the building and around the corner. As we begrudgingly accepted our place as last in line far from the entrance, we saw a sign: “Donate Blood Tonight and we will upgrade you and three of your friends’ tickets to the Georgetown Morgue to VIP status, and you can skip the line.”
Of course Matthew was the first to point out that he was a regular blood donor. He was always doing kind things like that. He volunteered at an animal shelter on the weekends. He probably spent all his other days as a good Samaritan helping with street crossings. But I admired his enthusiasm for doing good deeds as he tried to convince one of us to donate with him.
“We won’t have to wait in this line in the rain,” he bargained, “but it can’t just be me who donates blood. We need two people to donate if all 6 of us are going to skip the line.”
My group hemmed and hawed about how they couldn’t donate. Some laughed that the bloodmobile was even there in the first place – the cleverness of the association between blood and Halloween and haunted houses.
But that didn’t deter Matthew. He pressed on, “It takes less than an hour to donate. That’s far shorter than this monstrous line.” He looked right at me, “C’mon. You’ll do it. I know you will.”
Now, I had never donated blood before. That bravery I had in the parking lot left immediately when I thought about having a needle in my arm. He must have seen it on my face because he quietly said to me,
Bro, giving blood isn’t scary. The Georgetown Morgue? Now that’s scary. But you know what’s scariest of all? That if we don’t donate blood, some people may lose their lives. I don’t know if I could sleep tonight thinking about that.
He was so sincere. So passionate. He looked at me expectantly and before I fully agreed to do it in my head, I heard myself say, “Yeah. Let’s go donate some blood.” Our friends cheered us on, but waited in line to save our place.
Matthew hurried to the Bloodworks bloodmobile while I was dragging my feet. He shouted back words of encouragement, but I was regretting my decision every step of the way. When we reached the Bloodworks tent, the staff were dressed as vampires. I appreciated the humor.
“First time donating blood?” a tall pale vampire asked. I nodded, and the tent erupted in thank yous.
A smiling vampire put a bottle of water in my hand and said, “This will help with your donation. Don’t worry, we got you.”
As they walked us up to the door of the bloodmobile, we told them our friends were waiting in line. The tall vampire told us to call them and invite them to the tent where they could sit, have snacks, and wait for us there. I thought that was pretty cool and wished I could be the one in the tent and not on the bus.
The bloodmobile was filled with light. Quite jarring after being in the dark of night. Someone dressed as Waldo sat me down in a small room and asked me questions. Then I was escorted to a reclining chair and made comfortable.
A phlebotomist dressed as a witch introduced herself and prepared my arm. We spoke of haunted houses and scary things and before I knew it I was giving blood. I squeezed a ball she placed in my hand and assessed how I felt.
I felt fine. My heart wasn’t racing. My breath was normal. My body temperature was comfortable. This wasn’t scary at all.
The witch wrapped my arm and moved me over to a bench where I had something to eat and drink with Matthew. He grinned at me as he ate his cookie. “How was it, man?”
“Fine.” I answered, opening a bag of chips. “She told me that there’s a national blood shortage. They haven’t had enough blood donors to cover hospital needs since before the pandemic. And they’re scared that over the holidays people won’t donate blood because they get busy with friends and family. Pretty scary.”
Matthew’s grin widened. I looked at him perplexed and he answered my twisted face with, “That’s the good thing about donating blood. You can do it every 56 days. Wanna donate with me again in December?”
“Yeah, Matt. I do.” I answered, fully knowing that I am a blood donor now.
We left the bus and grabbed our friends and were escorted to the front of the line of the Georgetown Morgue. I’d tell you about what I saw in there, but I’ve never been so scared in my entire life.
If you would like to experience the thrills and fun of donating blood at the Georgetown Morgue haunted house, visit www.bloodworksnw.org/halloween