Here’s an occasion when the aftermath of doing something selfless created feelings of selfishness:
Pamela is a business associate, someone I have worked with remotely on two projects. We are Facebook friends but have never met in person or even spoken on the phone. Several months ago, Pamela sent out a desperate appeal to her entire Facebook contact list begging for blood platelet donations for her friend who was in serious condition at a local cancer institute. She stated that she herself would be at the institute night and day and would gladly “come hold your hand” during the donation procedure for anyone who could help out.
I replied directly to her post and said that I made an appointment to donate platelets at the cancer institute for her friend. I also sent her a personal message and told her the time of my appointment and said that while I didn’t need her to hold my hand, I would love to finally meet her if she was on the campus. I didn’t hear back from her and there was no further reply from her on her original post.
Two days later I kept my appointment and made the donation. I have given blood to the Red Cross many times but this was the first time I donated platelets. As I understand it, your blood is pumped out, run through a separator and the plasma, minus the platelets, is returned to your body, along with an anti-coagulant agent. The process took several hours; it was uncomfortable, but not painful. Pamela did not stop by while I was there and I didn’t want to disturb her if she was with her friend. That night I sent her another personal message telling her that I had made my donation to be directed to her friend and that since it was fairly easy, I would be happy to do it again after the two or three weeks recovery period required between donations. I asked her to tell me if he still needed it so I could direct the next donation to him, otherwise I would probably do a general donation to the hospital at a later date.
I expected that I would hear back from Pamela, but days went by, turned into weeks and I had no response from her at all. She continued to post to Facebook often, never with news of her friend’s condition, just the usual pictures of her dogs and photos of restaurant meals and shopping trips.
I had donated the platelets to benefit someone I didn’t know because I wanted to do something good and I hope that friends of friends would do the same for me if ever I needed it. Blood donation is something you can do that doesn’t cost you anything but can make a huge difference to those who need it. I don’t have money to donate to causes, but a totally renewable resource produced by my body is little sacrifice. However, as the weeks went by I was starting to dwell on the feeling of being used and ignored and I felt bad that I was allowing myself to harbor these petty feelings. Even more time went by with no acknowledgment from Pamela at all. More Facebook photos of her dogs…
Then, one day she made a random Facebook post about how good karma was benefiting her life. Now, I’m not proud of myself, but I posted a somewhat passive-aggressive reply addressing her total lack of acknowledgement toward someone who had answered her appeal for help. She responded that she was much too busy to read every single message that people sent her and thus didn’t even know that I had answered her call for help weeks before. She said, correctly, that the hospital would not divulge the names of donors.
Am I being selfish in thinking that she should have at least followed up on her own Facebook page to see who answered her appeal and gave their blood cells at her request? “Thank you” goes a long way when someone does you a favor. Does the fact that I got upset that I wasn’t thanked or even acknowledged mean that I did it for the wrong reasons in the first place? 0819-16
I have several thoughts, as usual. My father donated gallons of blood and I don’t know how many platelets over the years and never knew who would be the recipient of his body’s gifts. There are certain circumstances that we should view as expressions of altruism that are for the common good. You donate blood and platelets because it helps someone down the road.
The favor you did was to the cancer victim, not your friend Pamela, and since the hospital will not divulge names of donors, unless Pamela informs her friend of your appointment, there is no way for that person to thank you.
I think you’ll be happier if you move on.