Dearest Rachel –
Even with Caller ID, I can’t help it. I was raised to answer the phone when it rang, regardless of who it was. That robotic voice can say ‘potential spam’ all she likes, I’m still going to pick up the phone, and find out what it is they want.
To be sure, I do try to have fun with it. Every so often, for instance, some scam claims to be from some Cook County governmental office, at which point I always answer with a cheerful “Hello, Toni,” referring to Ms. Toni Prekwinkle, our county commissioner, “what can I do for you?” It’s enough to throw them off their game, and more often than not, end the conversation straight away. Sometimes, if they’re introduced as potential spam by the answering system’s robotic voice, I’ll greet them as if they’re from Hormel, to similar effect.
For whatever reason, this past evening I didn’t start off with such a witty greeting. And it’s probably just as well; the call was from Vitalent; it was an actual human being on the line, and they were asking for you specifically.
And at this point, I was glad that I hadn’t gotten snarky with them. Because I’m not sure you would have appreciated that. You donated gallons of blood over the course of your lifetime. Indeed, one of the last memories we have before the lockdown orders came down, and we bunkered into the house in order to do our ‘fifteen days to slow the spread’ part was a day of errands out that included voting in the local primaries, followed by a stop at Vitalent for us all (Daniel included, despite his trepidation – you wanted him to perform this community service at least once, to determine whether he would be willing to follow in your footsteps) to give blood. I was concerned that, given the current health panic, whether they’d even accept blood from people. You countered, quite logically, that hospitals might well be overwhelmed, even as supplies ran out due to reduced donations while everybody hid out, and as a result, we had a duty to contribute to the cause while we still could. For my part, I tried to take it in good humor; as I saw it, we were simply going from one bloodsucker to another that day.
But this was how you were; always giving of yourself wherever you saw a need. It got to this point where apparently, Vitalent would call on occasion to check in on you, and see if you wanted to donate more. Of course, I had to fill them in on the situation, starting with the fact that you wouldn’t be available to donate blood, but that – as the operator persisted – you had donated your organs.
The penny dropped pretty quickly at that point, and the girl on the other end of the line was, after a brief hiccup, thoroughly apologetic, offering heartfelt condolences to me for your loss. She even had the grace to apologize for having to update her records, and asking for the date it happened. I told her, she made a note of it, and she again apologized before wishing me well and hanging up.
For now, I’m going to claim that I did them a favor by having them update your records. At least they know that even in death, as in life, you gave of yourself to others. Literally.
Sometimes, even ‘potential spam’mers deserve to know that much.