Exit Through the Gift Shop

Incept is honored to have today’s post come from guest blogger Jodi Zand. Jodi Zand is the Director of Fund Development for the Foundation for America’s Blood Centers.

Recently I brought my family to Buffalo with me for FABC’s Interim Meeting, while my in-laws drove up from Cleveland for some quality time with our son, Oliver. On Saturday evening, we decided it was time for Oliver to ride the famous Maid of the Mist boat to get an up-close view of Niagara falls.

After waiting in long lines on a bridge with hundreds of hot, sweaty tourists and very little personal space, it was finally time to don our complimentary blue ponchos and board the boat.

The boat ride was exhilarating! Except for the few people who seemed a little green from their lack of sea legs, the general feel of the crowd was happiness and awe.

As with most tourist attractions, you are guided to the exit through a gift shop, where the merchant is hoping to strike while the thrill of your experience is fresh, and you are compelled to buy any of the numerous tchotchkes as a keepsake.

Within a couple minutes in the store, the skies opened up out of nowhere and a torrential thunderstorm began. Instinctually, more people scurried into the gift shop for cover, causing the store to be more crowded than anyone would like, but not unbearable. The feeling was one of calmness and almost amusement about the sudden change in weather. However, after about ten minutes, the sales clerks became quite verbose in demanding that everyone must leave the shop. At first, nobody paid much attention, but the clerks became more and more adamant. Finally, one of the tourists spoke up and calmly said to the young woman, “You can’t seriously expect us to go out in this storm, there is lightning out there, and people could get hurt.”

“That is not our responsibility,” the clerk said, anger rising in her voice. “You have to go. We are over capacity. If you aren’t buying something, you have to leave now.”

Not our responsibility. Those words struck me instantly. That mantra has always been the proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to blood donation. “It’s somebody else’s problem.” “I’ve never needed blood.” “Someone else will take care of it.” I could list more excuses, but anyone in this business has heard them all. And many of us at one point or another have gotten caught up in the numbers and the goals and the logistics, and temporarily lost sight of why we do what we do.

But the thing is, it is our responsibility. It is our responsibility to make sure that we are relentlessly spreading the word about blood donation. It is our responsibility to continue supporting programs that break down the barriers and build a diverse blood supply that supports everyone’s needs. It is our responsibility to continue developing and applying technology to make our operations and our usage as efficient as possible. And it is our responsibility to be global leaders and open our doors and our ideas to other nations who want to ensure a safe and adequate lifeline to their citizens.

In the end, after about 30 minutes (and two overpriced punching balloons, thanks to Oliver demonstrating the “you try to inflate the balloon in the store, you buy it” policy), the weather cleared and so did the store. Tempers eased and the workers seemed to relax a bit, hopefully having learned a lesson in common sense and compassion. What I hope everyone in that gift shop learned that night is that one never knows when or where a storm is going to hit, and it is everyone’s responsibility to band together and do what’s right.

If you would like to help the FABC continue to fund programs that help maintain a safe and adequate blood supply, please consider attending our Unity Gala on September 27 and/or the Links for Life Golf Tournament on Oct. 22. To learn more visit www.thefabc.org or contact Ms. Zand atjzand@americasblood.org.