Robert L. English
Take one down and pass it around, 88 pints of...: I have to commend Eric Barton on his most accurate portrayal of the blood banking business in South Florida ("Blood Trade," November 28). As a former South Florida Blood Banks employee, I know that the whole business is very competitive. There was also the matter of astronomical salaries paid to the vice presidents and senior management, while we "regular" employees suffered one 2 percent pay raise after another. There is a very high turnover rate due, in part, to inappropriate departmental management.
My supervisor told me to my face that if I couldn't do my job properly, she would get a mentally retarded person to do it. I unfortunately couldn't prove she said it, but she used those exact words. What did I do there? I was a telemarketer, one of those people who called former donors and reminded them to donate. We had quotas to meet, and if we didn't... well, it wasn't very pleasant. I quit in June after my supervisor suspended me for a week because I argued with two coworkers. Never was my side of the incident asked for; I was just told to leave for the rest of the week. And I lost a whole week's pay. I don't think that was appropriate discipline. I was also a blood donor. I gave 89 pints of blood to SFBB, but now, I don't think I want to donate anymore.
West Palm Beach
Blood money: I would like to compliment Eric Barton for his detailed article about the finances and competition between South Florida's two blood banks. If he should write another article, I thought he might be interested in the comparable history of John Elliott Blood Bank.
In 1978, when I was vice president of the Dade County Medical Association, our public-health committee brought it to the attention of the board that the John Elliott Blood Bank had built small buildings near various army camps, offering $10 for the donation of blood. Obviously $10, which bought more in those days than it now does, was a considerable deterrent to advising the technicians about any history of hepatitis, etc.
We wrote a letter advising against this practice, but there was no response. It so happened that I was a member of the Public Health Trust at that time. The trust also communicated with the blood bank, but to no avail. Subsequently, two blood bank board members appeared before the Public Health Trust Board, insistent that it would be impossible to obtain blood on a voluntary basis. I distinctly remember one of them saying that blacks, Jews, and Hispanics would not give blood (I could go into more detail as to the labels that my inner-ear heard). The blood bank never explained why it was so insistent on continuing this practice.
Eventually we advised that Jackson Memorial Hospital would establish its own blood bank. The blood bank capitulated and went to a voluntary system.
Warren Lindau, M.D.
A bag of bones speaks: I'd like to congratulate Rebekah Gleaves on her terrific article on Alan Gelfand ("Ollie Rides Again," October 24). Wow, did she bring back some great memories. I am a 40-year-old ex-skateboarder. I used to live and breathe skateboarding back in my younger days. I couldn't wait for the new Skateboarder magazine to arrive in the mail. I actually dislocated my shoulder trying an ollie for the first time on my crude half-pipe.
Rebekah definitely did her homework for the article. Alan and Mike McGil were my biggest idols way back in the early 1980s. I hadn't heard the name Powell Peralta for so many years. I used to fantasize about becoming the new Bones Brigade park pro.
It would have been interesting to get Alan's viewpoint on the disappearance of the old "fat" boards versus the newer, skinny ones. Again, super job on her in-depth article. I look forward to reading more of her stories.
via the Internet
Talkin' Turkey: I want to commend Bob Norman for his October 24 article, "Wexler's Travels," denouncing Congressman Robert Wexler's views on the great democracy of Turkey. Bob has certainly done his research on Turkey, and his article was right on the mark.
It is always refreshing to have the truth told in the media, especially getting the facts straight about our "staunch ally," Turkey.
Gerard L. Cafesjian
Glorious isolation redux: Bob Norman probably would have stood up with the Ford and Lindbergh families and waved his "America first" flag when Neville Chamberlain gave new meaning to the word appeasement. But that cost the world only 40 million lives. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, and allied lives were lost and forgotten when two atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese to end the war.
And how about Cambodia? Boy, we really thinned out that population by doing nothing and allowing 1 million souls to be taken because they were city dwellers and knew nothing of farming the land. Hey, I'll bet Norman was the first to say that those pictures of Kurd women and children killed by gassing wasn't done by Saddam but was retouched by our allies.
As a kid in 1960, I went to Germany in the Army and spent 2 1/2 years during the building of the Berlin Wall. Of course, you would have figured they built the wall to keep the West from the workers' paradise. Do you know that 15 years after the end of World War II, some friends and I visited what was a concentration camp? And during that trip, you could still smell the remains of gypsies, Jews, Catholics, and those political people who just didn't agree with the new order.
Year in and year out, we find new ways to appease madmen. Your letter writers who wrote and asked that we should wait and see what Saddam will do have the best of intentions, but when will they want to do something? Maybe when they attack the Sears Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge. Let's get closer to home: How about a commercial jet crashing into the Miami Beach convention center during a concert? I was on a flight on 9/11 going from Fort Lauderdale to New York. But for the grace of God I could have been one of the victims. Instead, I was diverted to Atlanta.
We lost 53,000 troops in Korea and 50,000 more in Vietnam (some were friends of mine). We lost them because we allowed our politicians to tell the generals how to fight a war. How many more will die before we learn?