Originally published on forbes.com on September 10,2011.
September 11, 2011
For this one day, I don't have to justify going off-topic. On September 11, 2001, I was in our Boston office, then on Beacon Street literally paces from Tremont Street and the Freedom Trail. I remember going for a walk. I doubt there is a better city to wander and reflect on the history of the United States . Since I was virtually certain that the attack was the work of white supremacists who would have been better able to infiltrate the airline travel security apparatus and were inspired by the Turner Diaries, I went and meditated in front of the Shaw Monument. I thought the same thing about Oklahoma City before anybody knew who had done it. So it goes, a stopped clock is right twice a day.
It's more the time after that I remember, but there is one incident that particularly sticks in my mind. Having no special qualifications that would call me to go down to New York to help, I pretty much went about my normal business. That includes going to the Red Cross blood donor center on Plantation Street in Worcester, Mass every 56 days or so. (I used to have a great routine. My son and I would go to Anthony's barber shop on Grove Street to get our haircuts. Then we would go to Taco Bell on Lincoln Street. Every other haircut we would stop at the blood donor center. Sadly, my son gave up haircuts which threw me off schedule). At any rate, I was confronted by long lines, for the first time ever. I dislike long lines and crowds and I suspected that whatever other fall-out there was from the attack, a massive reduction in the blood supply was not likely. If I remember correctly and I don't care to go fact checking my memory, the subsequent month was one of the few times that there was excess blood available. So I just went home and resolved to come back in a week or two, which I did.
The impulse to go give blood in response to a tragedy like the 9/11 attacks is a positive one, but the demand is always there. It is actually an altogether pleasant experience with just a couple of little ouches. At least in Worcester they have made the medical history/behavior quiz something you do privately on a touch screen. So you no longer face the prospect of having an attractive young woman ask you if anybody has paid you to have sex with them recently. It depended on my mood whether that was embarrassing or amusing. After they have taken the pint from you, they have you hang around for fifteen minutes. They give you cookies and juice and usually some other sort of bounty. Minor league hockey tickets were big for a while.
If you haven't given blood in the last 56 days just go to one of the centers near you and do it. Don't wait for them to have a drive at work or church or the senior center. And certainly don't wait for another terrorist attack.