Wednesday, January 23, 2013

We've Got a Bleeder!

There I was, lost in peaceful meditation, grading assignments, awaiting the end of the NatGeo video on the infant mammoth found frozen after 40,000 years, when a member of the audience walked by my desk. I thought nothing of it. They do that all the time, on the roundabout way to the Puffs box. It's cold and flu season, you know. My desk is on the anti-express route.

What's this? He's coming back to stand right beside me? Behind the desk? My inner sanctum has been breached! Oops! Did my thoughts escape my fingertips again? The kid was standing right beside me. Leaning forward. I turned to see a Puffs soaked with blood. "Can I go? To the bathroom?"

"Of course! Go now! We'll unlock the door to let you back in." No need for Red to tarry, trying to set the door gently against the frame so the latch did not connect. I didn't want him to lose consciousness for lack of hemoglobin. It's not nice to starve your lungs for oxygen.

I grabbed a Puffs and squirted a generous dollop of Germ-X on it. Then I proceeded with a visual inspection. No visible signs of body fluid. I wiped off the inner door handle. Just in case. Because my number one goal, as I tell the students every August, is to keep everybody in our school safe. As soon as that video finished, approximately five minutes later, a front-row citizen of Mrs. Val Thevictorian's world announced, "Hey! There's blood on the floor!"

Oh, dear. We can't have that in this day and age. I went to look. It was a single drop. Smaller than a dime. To avoid mass hysteria, and buy myself some time, I said, "I don't think anyone is going to be walking over it in their bare feet. Stay away from it, and I'll get it cleaned up." My initial plan was to grab a baby wipe and some Fantastik (that stuff is FANTASTIC, you know!), then finish the job with a paper towel and Germ-X. But I got to thinking. The district must have a policy in place for blood cleanup. I remember stories of sporting events, and tales of Genius's split-open head, as told to me by the previous custodian. He had a special bottle of liquid mixed up for just such calamities. That was the protocol. Activity had to stop until the blood was removed. By a trained professional.

I stepped out into the hall. Cus had just come on duty. I explained the situation. "Got it!" said Cus. Cus is nothing if not efficient. "I'll use my bleach towel." Apparently, bleach is the superhero of cleaning fluids. I'm surprised Cus didn't have it in a holster on a tool belt. In came Cus, out went the spot. HooRah!

As Cus walked out the door, I mentioned, "Maybe I should have blocked it off with cones." Uh huh. But I did not even have a pair of plastic gloves. Nor a hazmat suit with a respirator like those worn by the government guys experimenting on Stu Redman in The Stand. Gone are the days when a kid could snort out forty gallons of blood, have the teacher tilt his head back, pinch his nose while he gargled on life fluid, then be pronounced healed, and spend the rest of the day wearing a stiff brownish-red shirt. I remember skinning a hole right through my royal blue polyester pants with the little stitchy thing down the front of both legs (worn under a dress, of course), and wearing those clammy things all afternoon, with a gaping hole in my knee covered by a square of soggy scarlet gauze and hospital tape. My mom gasped so audibly when she saw me get off the bus that I heard her half a block away.

The times, they have a-chang-ed.


  1. It seems like an over reaction to a dab of blood, but you couldn't be more correct about how things have changed.

  2. Rules and regulations are fine until they trump common sense.

  3. Oh yes, at my school in BigCityLand, we teachers have to watch five hours of mandatory training on "Bodily Fluids" before we can let a single student cross into our class. Under no circumstances can teachers clean up snot or blood or pee or poop. We must watch the videos (there's a quiz afterwards) and remember than when a kiddo hocks up a loogie and spits it on the classroom floor, we must don the hazmat suits, inflate the bubble, and call for the custodian, praying all the while that he's not on his every-fifteen-minute newspaper break.

    Yes, Dylan could forsee all...

  4. I know they've changed, but it hasn't quite reached me, except by guilt. I cut my finger at work, dropped the bloody tissue in the recycle waste paper basket. Thought uhoh, retrieved it and put it in the regular trash, which I carry to the dumpster every six months or so. It lay there so obvious I picked it up and stuffed it inside another piece of trash. What are we coming to.

  5. Times have changed and some for the better, but others...

  6. Stephen,
    There is no such thing as an overreaction in a freshman classroom. All actions are over-the-top.

    Like when a kid misses too many days, so the educational institution suspends them from school?

    Of course Dylan could foresee all. The answers were blowin' in the wind.

    I deal with an older crowd. No pee or poop patrol, but there seems to be an inordinate amount of saliva on the desktops.

    Good save! Just to be safer, you might want to put the outer trash and its contents into a ziploc sandwich bag, then wrap it in a hand towel, then put foil around it, put it in a gift box, and give it away to some unsuspecting child.

    ...who don't start swimmin' will sink like a stone. Dylan says!