Reflections of a blood drop
On Friday, Aug. 28, I promoted Washington University’s first blood drive of the year at the Fall Activities Fair. But rather than tabling or aggressively handing out flyers, I wore the blood drop costume to raise awareness. This instantly recognizable costume, also known as the “I always thought it was a Hershey’s Kiss” by my roommate, aims to hype up the blood drive and possibly scare people into donating. When no one else wanted to do it, I took on this weighty challenge and donned the blood drop. What follows is a minute-by-minute account of my experiences.
5:03 p.m.: I follow the previous costume-wearer inside the Danforth University Center to change and to prevent the masses from seeing a giant, red felt-ball molt in the middle of Mudd Field. “It’s kind of hot,” she warns me before departing. I put on the costume, which is too short for me. I must hunch over to see out of the mesh “eyes” of the anthropomorphic blood drop. Even then, I see vague outlines of the shapes around me, at best. The mesh is thick and mostly obscures my vision. I also don the accompanying white gloves. “Kind of hot” is kind of an understatement.
5:06 p.m.: I head out to the activities fair, aiming for a loop around Mudd Field. From what I can tell with my limited vision, most people’s reactions to the costume seem to be mild alarm and/or confusion, followed by swerving to the side to avoid my unwieldy presence. A few peripheral pedestrians, however, are not watchful enough to avoid an accidental body slam. “Sorry!” I shout in their general direction. Possibly, the experience of being addressed by a grinning red droplet is more traumatizing than the run-in itself.
5:11 p.m.: A friend whom I previously told about this adventure recognizes my legs and/or shoes and takes a selfie with the blood drop (me? the blood drop?). Inside the costume, I smile for the photo before realizing that it makes no difference.
5:15 p.m.: I have completed almost an entire lap around the activities fair, and I am feeling the burn. Despite the weather out- side my little red bubble being relatively temperate, the heat-trapping costume enveloping my torso has succeeded in making me sweaty. VERY SWEATY.
5:17 p.m.: I begin my second lap around Mudd Field. I discern the blurry outlines of a few friends and aggressively shout at them, by name, to donate blood. Apparently not recognizing my voice, they look very disturbed.
5:25 p.m.: I nearly run into a boat that the boating club has APPARENTLY decided was a GREAT IDEA to place in the middle of Mudd Field. It is a very close call.
5:27 p.m.: My hair is now thoroughly matted to my forehead. It’s chill. No one can see me in here. I keep waving and keep that smile on my face—not that I have a choice.
5:32 p.m.: Someone gets my attention by screaming, “Blood drop! My friend wants a hug from you!” I swivel my costume in approximately the direction of the voice and am able to see the outline of a girl obviously avoiding me. “I don’t think she wants a hug,” I tell the initial shouter. “No, she does want a hug! I promise,” he responds. “Nah, I don’t think so. Consent is the way to go,” I reply before moving on.
5:36 p.m.: I complete my second lap and move into the home stretch. My body temperature is steadily increasing. My face is definitely glistening, more in the “I am uncomfortably warm” way than in the “greasy ‘n’ glowing summer skin!!” way.
5:39 p.m.: For some inexplicable reason, a particularly determined club member decides to take his promotion to the next level and forcibly shoves an info sheet through the costume’s arm hole. “No, thank you,” I say loudly, but it is too late and I can’t get the paper out until I take off the costume. “Donate blood! Don’t be an a–hole!” I mutter as I depart the scene as rapidly as possible.
5:44 p.m.: After a few more selfies and high fives, my third lap is complete. I make a beeline for the Danforth University Center and shed the costume as soon as I am inside, eliciting looks of alarm from the few people sitting nearby. My time in the blood drop is done; my only souvenirs are elevated sweat gland activity and a few photos in which my shoes are my only identifying characteristic.
If I got at least one person to donate blood, though, it’s all worth it. And if you sympathize with my plight, please consider supporting the next blood drive on Wednesday, Nov. 4.