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15 January 2012

I was talking with a friend a while back and she mentioned how easy it was to mishear something. (That’s true, for years and years I misheard the weather forecast as “Rogue Snowfall Warnings’. It was about twenty years before I realized that what they were telling you about was actually “road snowfall warning”.) But misinterpretations too are are easy.
I managed one many years ago that could have led to unfortunate consequences. At the time I had a motorbike and was a blood donor. I have ABrh+ and had just had that checked, to find out that the Blood Service was keen to have me come in and donate every 12 weeks since that group isn’t common, but as it’s used for special transfusions it was very much wanted. So I began. I worked for the post office at the time too, and the easiest way of doing things was to tell my boss that I’d be in half an hour late, go to donate first, and then tear off to work on my motorcycle.
Each time I donated I’d be fed a cup of tea and a scone, and solemnly warned – as I departed the building – “Don’t climb ladders and wave your arms about.” I’d get my motorbike and head off to work. And for several years as I rode away I wondered, why on earth did they think that I would climb a ladder and wave my arms about? I mean, you might possibly climb a ladder, but why would you then stand on the top rung acting like a demented windmill? Who had they known amongst their donors who did that? Did they fall off so that now they warned everyone not to do it?
In fact it wasn’t until a decade later when I could no longer donate blood (I’d developed a dangerous vitamin deficiency) that I was chatting to a friend who still gave blood, mentioned this baffling order and he fell about laughing.
“You daft hap’eth. They meant don’t climb ladders or make a lot of arm movements. Some donors get dizzy after they give blood, and using an arm a lot right after that can start it bleeding from the site again.”
“Oh,” I said cheerfully. “Well, I didn’t climb ladders or use my arm too much so it was okay.”
“No,” Johnny said with awful sarcasm. “You just got on a motorbike and zipped though central city traffic in rush hour. It’s a wonder you’re still around to tell the tale.”
In which he was probably right, but then I’ve always been lucky – either that or my guardian angle works a lot of overtime.

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