Stay away from clumsy blood collectors

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My name is Andrea and I have small veins.

Truthfully, tiny blood vessels aren’t much of an inconvenience when it comes to regular day-to-day living. However, they can be a real hindrance when your doctor is trying to determine your B-12 levels.

Take it from me; having blood removed from your body when your veins are the size of an anorexic earthworm on a cleanse, is kind of like having your tongue shoved through a drinking straw – a bendy one.

A few years ago, on a particularly dismal day at the lab, I went in for a routine CBC (otherwise know as a clumsy blood collection). Soon after I sat down, a nurse (we’ll call her Kathy Bates) made three failed attempts on my right arm before moving on to the left. It appeared as though she had made a successful poke until I realized only two minuscule beads of plasma had been sucked into the syringe. “I think I went right through,” she said nonchalantly, before withdrawing the needle and taking another stab.

What I was thinking: Are you f&%#ing kidding me? Wait, aren't you the crazy nurse from Misery?

What I said: Is there, um, someone else who might be able to help with this?

Nurse Kathy: You have small veins. This is impossible.

What I was thinking: No shit. Seriously, are you going to break my legs too?

What I said: Yeah, I know. Could someone else…

Nurse Kathy: You look a little pale. Squeamish are you? Can I get you some orange juice?

What I was thinkingBloody Hell! I’m on a fourteen hour fast and you just poked a needle through my f&%#ing vein. Are you insane???

What I saidI’m okay thanks, I’ll just lean my head back and…

When I came to, I was horizontal and a young boy was staring up my left nostril. “Is she okay mommy?” he asked, as his mother covered his eyes and quickly whisked him away.

No wonder. I looked like a strung out, tracked-up addict.

From that day on, I decided to never subject myself to a CBC again. Then, I got pregnant and learned quite quickly that giving blood (and buckets of urine, by the way) is mandatory when with child.

Fortunately, I was introduced to Ellen the Great and Ellen the Great introduced me to “baby butterfly.” For those who don’t know, a baby butterfly is a teeny tiny needle used to procure blood from small children (and me) and Ellen the Great is my new best friend – though my steady hugs are starting to make her feel uncomfortable.

No, really.

Kathy Griffin, have I got a job for you...

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I woke up this morning to the sounds of a calm middle-aged woman telling me that my house might be on fire.

Apparently, our smoke alarm talks, which theoretically is not a bad thing. However, the voice inside our detector is a female version of HAL, from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Her voice is so damn soothing, she might as well have been singing a freaking lullaby this morning, because after the initial jolt of hearing the beep, I started to drift back off to sleep. And, (I’m not sure because after all, I was asleep but...) I think I heard her say, "It can only be attributable to human error.

Clearly, the smoke alarm people picked the wrong voice over actress for the job of announcer. Instead of using the voice of HAL, as played by Bambi’s mother, they should have hired, oh I don’t know… Kathy Griffin.

You tell me. What would you rather hear while your house is aflame?

“Um, excuse me. Fi-eye-ur. Tra, la, la. Smoke… detected. I think we’ll call him Bambi. I'm afraid I can't do that Dave.”



Yeah, me too. What I want (what I need) from my smoke detector is Kathy Griffin screaming like a banshee. That… would get anyone moving in a hurry. And really, isn’t that what a fire alarm is supposed to do? I hate to think of what our carbon monoxide detector says when, and if the harmful gas is filling up the house.

Yoohoo everybody. Wake up. Please.”

Still, the strange voice in the living room was enough to fully wake my daughter, who crawled in bed beside me asking, “Who is that lady mommy?”  One thing’s for sure honey… it ain’t Kathy Griffin.

Oh yeah, and our house wasn’t on fire. Thankfully.

It was just Geoff.

Nuff said. 

No, really.

We are the reason the Do Not Call list was created. I'm not kidding.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

The phone rang. I picked it up.

The voice on the other end didn't offer a name but he sounded like a Nick, so I think I'll refer to him as Nick. Nervous Nick.

Nervous Nick: Can I speak to Mr. Geoff Slater please?

Wow - Mister. This was official.

Me: Um, he's a little tied up at the moment. [You're in luck Nick. Hang up the phone. Save yourself! Do it now!]

I didn't say that last part. I just thought it.

Just then, Geoff spotted me. He motioned to the phone. I nodded that yes, it was for him. I tried to spare you Nick. I really did. Okay, maybe I didn’t try too hard.

Geoff: Hello?

I don't know exactly what Nervous Nick said, but it had something to do with a special event at a local car dealership.

Geoff: No, I didn't receive anything like that in the mail.

I handed Geoff the day's mail which included an invitation to a special event at a local car dealership.

Geoff: Oh yeah. Ok. I see it here now. So... will there be booze at this event?

Presumably, Nervous Nick was stunned into momentary silence. By the way, Geoff doesn't drink. Anymore. Well, maybe the odd glass of Fat Bastard... but I digress.

Geoff: Hello?

Evidently Nick explained to Geoff that there would be no booze. This was to be a sober test-driving extravaganza.

GeoffYeah, well I guess you wouldn't want to get people liquored up before they climb into your cars would you?

I had to hand it to poor Nick. He was spunky. He tried to stay on script and pushed for Geoff to commit to attending the party.

GeoffWell, I don't know what we're doing that day but I tell you what, if we're in the area we'll drop by and drive the Hell out of one of your cars. 

Nick thanked Geoff and hung up after which time he likely handed in his resignation and downed a case of Fat Bastard - but not necessarily in that order.

Really, Nick shouldn't feel too bad. He fared pretty well in the Mister Slater vs cold caller battle.

I once heard Geoff tell a telemarketer that he couldn't use long distance services because we didn't own a telephone. Then, there was the time he turned a teleseller’s head inside out by explaining that we were Mennonites and therefore didn’t require life insurance. But my favorite was his response when a chirpy scam artist called to tell him his computer was full of viruses. “Ok, got it,” said Geoff, “The dog sleeps at midnight and the cat ate the chicken."  

And that is why you should never call my husband. Ever. Unless you're drunk. Or sarcastic. Or both.

No, really.

Strangers sharing garbage... It's a beautiful thing.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

“Is anyone coming from your side?”

Jan and I were heading to the home improvement store to pick up something for Geoff. At a stop sign, I checked to see if anyone was about to drive into us. It was all clear and so I responded with the words, “No answer.”

The puzzled look on my mother’s face wasn’t anything I hadn’t already seen before.

What I had meant to say was that it was all clear… that no one was coming. Instead my response was better suited for making a telephone call, than checking on traffic. I had a good excuse. I was tired – as usual. We all were. This house building stuff was taking its toil.

Partway to our destination, a screech came from the backseat.

“Eeeeeek! A fly!”

A housefly had hitched a ride and buzzed above my daughter’s head, before disappearing into the large bag of garbage sitting in the back.

Prior to leaving the house, we had stuffed the stinky sack in the car, fully intending to stop – three seconds later – at the end of the driveway.

Instead, we drove off – refuse in tow. Evidently, we had forgotten about the bag as soon as the vehicle was in drive. The funny thing was, we drove past the garbage bin three times in total that morning. Once, when we left the house the first time. Again – just a few minutes later - when we returned because we had forgotten something, and a third time upon final departure.

Under normal circumstances, we probably would have taken the garbage on a round trip – to the store and back again. However, we were on our way to grab a load of building materials. Plus, the stench was really starting to foul up the air.  We had to act fast, before we all started to absorb the aroma of rotten vegetables, coffee grounds and raw meat.  

“Let’s look for a dumpster.”

My suggestion was a good one, however… rural country roads like ours aren’t exactly littered with public disposal units.

So, we did the next logical thing. We decided to search for a garbage bin at the end of a driveway.

Me: “Is that legal?”

Jan: “Probably not.”

Still, it was our only choice. It was a safety issue. We had a 3-year old in the car for heaven’s sake. This is what we would tell the authorities when they caught us stuffing our crap into some stranger’s box.

We searched for a bin that was distant from any houses, y’know, to be discreet. Trouble was, no such bin existed. But, we did determine that it was in fact garbage day in the country, just as we came across a small group of crates at the end of a long road. The houses were far enough away that the owners would require binoculars in order to read our license plate.

It was perfect.

Jan stopped the car, hopped out and grabbed the trash. “Do it like you live here!” I shouted helpfully from inside the automobile. She strolled nonchalantly over to one of the wooden boxes and lifted the lid.

It was stuffed, full.

She tried the next two containers. Same problem. She brought her hand to her nose and made a motion that expressed just how unbearable the stench was.  What the hell were these people throwing out? Fish guts? Rotten eggs? Dead bodies? I felt a panic attack coming on. Meanwhile, Jan fearlessly hoisted her bag up and stuffed it in one of the wooden enclosures as far as it could go - which wasn’t very far. She scurried away, with our trash staring back at her.

We drove off hoping that the garbage truck would arrive before the crows, raccoons or dogs had a chance to discover our deposit. My heart was racing as visions of a debris-covered road flashed through my head. Then I remembered having thrown out a Glamour magazine (yeah, I didn’t recycle it – so sue me) with the name and address of my friend’s husband stamped all over it. She subscribes via his post office box. It’s a long story. It makes sense if you live where I do. 

I spent the next hour at the home improvement store, hoping I wouldn't have to explain to my friend, why her husband had been called in for questioning. The relief was audible when we later drove past the scene of the crime, with nary a roadside crumb (or dead body) in sight. 

No, really.