After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

An Embarrassing Moment
In Memoriam: Betty Edwards-Vessel
A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing
Who Would Jesus Stab?
The Eggshell Incident
First Chapel Service at Ye Olde Folks Home
A Yearly Ritual at Menards
“Mr. Loftus, the Town Hero”
The FCAL Project
Pepe Le Pew Finds New Lodgings
In Memoriam: Dale Lear
Bingo Bedlam at Ye Olde Folks Home
There’s a Shortage of Perfect Movies…
One Day at the DMV
A Visitor from Microsoft
“He Who Should Not Be Named”
Downton… Abbey?
This Home is a Liver-Free Zone
My 9/11 Rememberances
My Yearly Pumpkin Spice Rant
Done In By Baker’s Square
My Eulogy for Alice
“Dear Rikki…”
A Clean, Well-lighted Place for Books
Memories of my First Computer
A Little Excitement at the Staff Meeting
The Tale of Mrs. Butler
Sun, Sand, and a Margarita
“Thou Shalt Not Steal”
Troubleshooting at Ye Olde Folks Home
Stories of my Mother
I’ve Heard Angels Sing
Elevator Mishap at the Eye Clinic
One Day at Fair, Isaac
Saturday Morning Cartoons
A Sprig of Parsley
Fun With Recruitment Ads
Leave Her to Heaven
Bring me Dave Bringle!
Beware! The Oldsters Are Coming!
Life Among the Progressives
A Family Ritual While Watching Masterpiece
The Unforgettable General Oppy
“Don’t Even THINK About Parking Here”
A Dubious Plan Gone Awry
The Singing Christmas Tree!
One Day in the Hospital Lab
The Legend of the Broken Timer
Nelson’s Fruit Stand
This One Time in Glee Club…
Star Trek References for the Win
Family Psalm, Stuck in Lodi
Vacation in Branson
Clyde and Ruth Revisited
COVID Policies During my Wife’s Fatal Illness
I Guess I’m the Shadow IT Department Now
The Tale of Clyde and Ruth
My Garden of Gethsemane Story
We Might Get a Virus!

One Day in the Hospital Lab

A few days ago I got my annual physical with my doctor, and of course he ordered some tests, which meant a trip to the lab to get my blood drawn.

I have a little schtick I do when that happens: if the lab tech does what I think is a good job, I compliment them. If they don’t, I keep my big piehole shut.

“Well done,” I told the lab tech when she was finished, and mentioned that I used to draw blood samples when I was a medic in the Army during the Vietnam War era.

“The Army. Well, I bet you got some good training for that in the Army,” she cooly replied.

Her tone was just as sincere and sweet as could be, but did you hear the subtext there? I guarantee that I heard it, although I suppose it might have merely been my imagination.

My dark imaginings went a little something like this:

“Ooh, the Army, how long did they train you on that? Two days? I took a semester course on that, plus I have ten years experience, while you were in for, what, two years? And you’re going to judge my work?”

Yeah, I’m gonna need some ice for that burn. Fair enough.

Certainly my training would not match hers. Two or three days was all we spent on that; we practiced by injecting normal saline solution into each other’s upper arms, to start out.

It wasnt long before I heard people muttering to each other, “Pair up with Adams, he’s not bad at this.”

That was mostly because everyone else was so squeamish about what they were doing that their hands were trembling as the needle went in. I think you can see how that might be unpleasant for the recipient.

I saw that play out for a couple of people before it was my turn so I learned from their mistakes and used a steady hand.

Drawing blood is a bit trickier, but I somehow always hit the vein with no trouble the few times I tried, probably because the people I dealt with had veins that were obvious. I wouldn’t claim any great skill at it.

My last military assignment was at an Army medical clinic in Oakland, CA, processing people who were leaving the service.

Since I knew how to develop film in a darkroom, I mostly took chest X-rays and developed the film, and occasionally did blood draws or administered hearing tests.

One day I was finishing up in the darkroom when someone knocked on the door. “Rick, come out here please, we have a situation.”

The situation involved one very burly, glowering man who was quite irritated with the staff’s inability to draw blood from him despite numerous tries.

They implored me to give it a go, and he reluctantly agreed, but warned that, “This is the last time. If he screws it up I’m going to punch him right in the nose.”

Well, isn’t that just ducky.

And of course I could palpitate the area and constrict his arm with the rubber tubing and have him squeeze the little ball all I wanted, but the man had absolutely no veins that I could find.

Well, I had to at least try. I positioned the needle right at dead center and thought, “Okay, if I was a vein, I’d be right… about… here.” And with completely feigned confidence I deftly and surely slid the needle home.

Lo and behold, I found the vein on the first try and my nose remained unmolested.

“Now, see, you guys just needed to get the one guy from the back who actually knew what he was doing,” the guy sarcastically commented.

I smiled triumphantly, but after he left I had to confess to my colleagues that what they had just witnessed was merely a bloody miracle borne from pure dumb luck.