Fun Thoughts on Organ Donation

January 15, 2009

A few years ago, I had a client named Tad Blood. He wore lots of hats, one of which was to coordinate the promotion for the half dozen VG “Very Good” restaurants. I would meet with Tad on a fairly regular basis. Over a period of time, we had grown to be good friends and I felt confident that he was someone that I could always joke around and he would take it all in stride.

To my credit, I had bailed Tad out on rare occasion when a cook or two failed to muster at one of the restaurants which apparently only happens just prior to the arrival of the evening rush. When it did, Tad would frantically call pleading for me to rush over to Harry Bear’s or Triple’s to help him in the kitchen. I enjoyed the panic and the stress. It would be just the two of us with food flying everywhere. Disorder among the orders. Chaos and chilidogs. I was in my environment. Naturally, fries and rings were my specialty. I could also chop cucumbers for salads without leaving one of my digits along with the garden mix. And, for the uninitiated, let me simply say that that most sane people would not eat out if they really saw who was doing the cooking.

I would call on Tad about advertising stuff at least once a week. At one of the meetings, I couldn’t help but notice that his driver’s license renewal form was languishing on his desk. When quizzed, Tad was always going to get to it “tomorrow.” Of course, the reality was that the hectic nature of his multi-task job usually meant that tomorrow was going to be just as dysfunctional as today. His boss was a guy named Jim Smelser. Tad was his right hand man and the guy Jim turned to do all the dirty work - closing restaurants late at night, firing crooked assistant managers, or occasionally having to call some non-cooking ad guys to help out in the kitchen.

Tad’s plate was always full and his messy desk reflected his immense responsibility. We both were single at the time and I would remind him that his 24-7 schedule made dating pretty much impossible. He would agree although he confessed that he liked someone he had met at Val Genes. She worked in the hospitality business and understood the drill. Still, his sex life was almost non-existent, but I figured if a guy like me could find a date now and then, the there was hope for Tad.

As I look back, the funny thing that even if he could have found the time to rush over to a Tag Agency, he would not have been able to locate the renewal form. There always seemed to be a paper mountain of sales figures on his desk, accounting tape that wound its way all over the place like a white fire hose, yellow pad produce order forms, liquor reports scraped together on the back of table tent cards, and naturally, the obligatory lawsuits notice dealing with notoriously under-cooked fries and rings that occasionally left customers heaving all over the parking lot.

Still, each week I would patiently remind him to take care of the problem before his license expired. Life in its cruelest form, had long taught me that if I didn’t renew mine on time, there was a 100% probability that I would be stopped within seconds after the expiration date passed by a cop – a cop having a really bad day.

Here is how I saw it in my mind: Fidgeting with his mace and eager to try out his new night stick, Dirty Harry Jr. would immediately haul my sorry butt downtown. Once I was tossed in the clink, I would find myself sitting between some murderer with a missing ear and hairy knuckles, a couple of nasty car-jackers with attitudes, or some hip-hop, hopped-up gang banger with a towering afro and a profound dislike for white advertising copy writers who smelled of French fries and onion rings.

“Hey pal, what are you in for? Some tattooed gorilla across the clammy cell would menacingly hiss as he fiddled with the homemade ’shank’ he had successfully hidden from the SWAT team before they finally subdued him outside some dingy, gunshot-peppered bar.” My new simian friend would have hidden it in a body cavity so the “screws” couldn’t find it. I suspected that my tepid answer would not bode well for me or my cavities as I sheepishly replied “over-due driver’s license.”

As fate would have it, I was in Tad’s office when I spied the form and pointed out that this was the very last day. He couldn’t blow it off any longer. Un-repented, Tad groused back “that dang Smelser’s got me doing this and that, and then I’ve got to/” “Hey”! I interrupted, “Don’t be late or there could be a shank in your future”. Confused by the shank comment, he nodded his head affirmatively and promised “to run over do it later that afternoon.”

And as sure as fat people love all you can eat buffets, that is exactly what he did.

Now the rest of the story gets a little murky. Consequently, we’ll just have to use our imaginations a little. Apparently, Tad did make a late afternoon dash over to the Tag Agency at 30th and North Classen. After the obligatory fifteen minutes of fingering through an assortment of tattered Ladies Home Journals, Field and Steams, and one very old National Geographic (from 1984 with headline warning “Next Ice age is coming”), finally his number was shouted out.

Tad probably eased down on the unpadded seat in front of this typically young clerk and thrust the form toward her. She would have picked it up with practiced indifference and then feigned a half-hearted grin without bothering to look up. After all, he was probably number 16,994 and it had been a boring afternoon just like all other afternoons at the tag agency. She would have then whirled away to go do whatever people do to process the all important renewal.

Then, something unexpected like Oklahoma winning a bowl game happened. She would have whirled around and her face would have been twisted, contorted not too dissimilar to Hillary Clinton’s face after the democratic convention.

In short, the embarrassment would have been palatable. Gingerly, timidly, she would have slipped the form back to Tad. Confused, he would have wrinkled his brow like a recently plowed field and squinted down at the paper, then back up to the still highly embarrassed young teenager.

“What’s the problem?” he would have growled in a low, guttural near-animal tone that comes with having to deal with an endless line of sloppy bus boys or absented-minded waitresses. The young girl was barely 16. This was her first job and she took it after school to earn enough money to help with her dad’s much-needed bone marrow transplant or some other equally compelling reason (why else work at a Tag Agency?).

As she stood there, nervously eyeing other customers perusing the remains of the 1998 Field and Stream, she would have nervously whispered something Tad. Her angelic voice quivering. This would have only exacerbated Tad’s confusion. Undoubtedly, he would have retorted “what did you say?” irritated that this whole adventure was obviously going to take even longer that he had feared. At this point the young girl would have pointed to the form in question and stuttered that the State of Oklahoma appreciated his wanting to donate organs, but she couldn’t accept the form as submitted. “Organs! What you mean donate, I don’t remember -” and at that moment, Tad would have snagged the paper back quicker than a hungry rattler going for a fat mouse.

I must confess that many a night I have laughed myself to sleep trying to imagine my friend Tad’s face as he saw where I had checked the Organ Donor box, and scribbled “My penis . . . if I am not going to use it, somebody else might as well.”

Needless to say, he was not amused.

There actually is a serious point to all of this. Surprise, someday we are all going to die. By checking your organ donor box on your license and just as important, telling your family of your decision, you can do something extraordinary even after death. Rather than bury your organs in which they will simply rot, you can help some of the eighty thousand people on the waiting list for donated hearts and livers and kidneys and more.

Tragically, half of those people will die while still languishing on the list. In fact, sixteen people a day pass unnecessarily given the number of Americans who die each day.

It is interesting that the surgeon’s scalpel can often save a life. He can save yours, that of a loved one, but why not that of a stranger? After donating my organs someone may joke that poor old Bob doesn’t have a heart. But by being an organ donor, I may not have heart, but heartless is the last thing that can be said about me.

Epilog: Tad eventually left Val Gene’s and the last I heard is operating his own successful catering service. He married Jo Ann the cute young girl from his long days at Val Gene’s. I hope he  is successful, happy and wise enough to renew his driver’s license well in advance of its expiration date.

Entry Filed under: Editorial, humor. .

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Dick Beshear  |  January 16, 2009 at 3:09 am

    Bob: I enjoyed this blog the best. DB

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