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Third Face: Plasma

I understand that I previously set certain defined limits to write only about people I saw between Blegen Hall and the Washington Avenue Burger King, but I believe there has arisen a circumstance that allows me to go beyond those limits. ZLB Plasma Services, located no more than a block away from that beautiful burger paradise, is like a giant, malignant tumor on the side of neighboring Arby’s. If not for the company of people always surrounding the entrance of the building, it may have a better reputation than the one that’s been attributed to it.

ZLB is an infections disease (excuse the exaggerations, puns, etc., but they may be appropriate), a problem, an excuse for remedy. While I understand the benefits for such an establishment (i.e., the necessary donation and collection of plasma in order to save lives), there are also contributing factors that make it much less appealing to potential donors: basically, everything about it.

The tepid, uninviting duality of colors that adorn the building are suitable to the mood that exists within a 100-foot radius (this includes the Arby’s, unfairly affected by the somberness). Trash is littered all around the entrance and 20-25 feet before and after you pass the door. While this doesn’t and shouldn’t indicate the quality of the services provided - as trash is inevitably scattered everywhere within the city - it certainly doesn’t boost business.

Perhaps the biggest impediments to ZLB are the solicitors that solicit directly in front of the NO SOLICITING sign. Apparently, the rules were discarded long ago. Or maybe, the NO SOLICITING sign is a joke, a subtle insert of irony meant to make passersby laugh. It’s quite possibly one of the biggest paradoxes you’ll ever see, that hits you head on, as if to say: “WE’RE SOLICITING!? No, I know: the employees refrain from enforcing the rules because they’re afraid that the soliciting donors are packing more than healthy plasma.

If I could explain the situation any more thoroughly, I would surely be labeled racist or intolerant, but I find ZLB to be not only inconvenient, but also terrifying, which is why, for the first time, I chose to enter those NO SOLICITING doors and experience paradise for myself. It reminded me of a scene from a movie, in which nuclear missiles have devoured a small town, and the survivors are forced to relocate to a small school or hospital where they can be treated for radiation and incoherence. While none of these people were radiating nuclear waste from their skin (this would undoubtedly prevent you from donating anything from your body), they all wore on their faces the same bored, blank look. Why are we here? It was sad to witness, and the situation was made no better when I realized that playing on the ceiling televisions was Pirates of the Caribbean, the epitome of excellent “donating? film.

I left promptly with my hand locked firmly on my wallet, but I may return one day; if not for the money, then to see if Armageddon is playing.