Friday, January 18, 2008

The Blood Donor 

I've become convinced that Neil, my former team leader, is not of this planet but am yet to come up with concrete proof.
Everything about him - his mannerisms, the things he says, the way he goes about his business – indicates that he's busking it. You're a fake Neil, and I'm on your case.

It's a bit like when you're at a posh meal and you're not sure which cutlery to use, so you wait for someone else to make the first move then copy what they do.
Only Neil, being a good deal dimmer than your average alien life form, always manages to get his wires crossed, mistakes the white noise for the signal and the signal for the white noise, tries to eat his soup with a fish knife, wears his napkin like it was a party hat, follows women into the Ladies to “freshen up his makeup and generally bitch,” and remains oblivious to the commotion he leaves in his wake.

Ages ago he held a door open for me as we passed in the corridor. My mind was elsewhere at the time, nothing new there I suppose, and instead of saying thank you – “Kew” in it's shortened form – or “Ta”, the word that left my mouth was a combination of the two: “Car.” Ever since he thinks that Car is the word to use when thanking me. Nobody else, of course, just me. I tried putting him straight but got nowhere and life's too short so I've let it pass.
There are worse fates in the world than being incorrectly thanked by a manager from outer space.

Today was Blood Donor day here at Company X and I thought this would be my big chance to unmask him. I've been priming him all week.
“Are you going to give blood on Friday, Neil?”
“Erm, what's that?”
“It's where you donate some of your blood to someone else who needs it more than you.”
“No, I mean what's blood?”
“Oh. It's this red liquid, or fluorescent green in your case, hopefully, that carries oxygen and stuff around your body. It's great.”
“Car Tim, but I think I'll take a rain check on that.”
“Oh come on,” I said. “It's the easiest karma you'll ever get. You get an hour off work to have a lie down, and at the same time you're giving a wonderful gift to, you know, your fellow man and that.”
He shifted uneasily in his high chair. “Nobody needs my blood more than I do. Car Tim, but no car.”
“Neil,” I persisted. “When else are you going to be restrained flat on your back by a woman in a nurse's outfit? For free? You'd like that, wouldn't you? I know I do.”

By Thursday I could tell he was wavering on this last point.
Something about the thought of all those pipes and tubes must have rekindled memories of his travels in the mothership, and the promise of buxom Earth Matrons in stiffly starched uniforms proved more than he could resist.

This morning we walked together down to the Company X cricket pavilion where the blood donor people had set up their equipment.
Neil, who learned everything he knows about the National Health Service from watching old Carry On films, was giddy with excitement. I think he was expecting to be forcefully manhandled by Barbara Windsor.
I, meanwhile, was anticipating camera crews and maybe a speaking part on the six o'clock news:
“This is a great day for the good people of Preston who can once more sleep soundly knowing this alien lunatic is safely under lock and key. I only did what anyone else would have done in similar circumstances. It was the least I could do.”

As it transpired, I was turned away on the flimsy grounds that “I have a chesty cough, sore throat, cold sore or am coming down with a cold.”
I explained that having a chesty cough is just my natural state these days and that, honestly, I was fine, but they were having none of it.
Seeing me being rejected, Neil lost his nerve completely and claimed not only to have the mother of all man flus, but also declared he was on antibiotics, had received complicated dental work in the last seven days, and had had his ears, nose, face and Prince Albert pierced in the last six months.
“Is that going to be a problem, Nurse?” he innocently enquired.
What probably clinched it was his belief that he was pregnant or had had a baby in the last nine months.
“Well, which?” asked the nurse.
“Both?” he wondered uncertainly.

I was livid.
“It obviously wasn't meant to be,” he sighed as we headed back in the pouring rain. “But car anyway for thinking of me, Tim.”
I put up my hood and pretended not to have heard him. Investigations are ongoing.

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