There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Life and bus schedules

My bus commute couldn't be more simple. Walk out the front door. Catch the bus. Get off the bus at the end of the line and take the train. Get off the train and walk around the block to work. So I consider it something of an adventure when an opportunity presents itself to test just how flexible Sacramento Regional Transit is.

Trevor KottYesterday, I heard about Trevor Kott. Click on Trevor's picture, and it will take you to his parents' Web site, where they explain that Trevor is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. The problem is finding a compatible donor.

I don't play the Lottery, but the idea of participating in a genetic lottery to see if I might be compatible donor intrigued me.

The Kotts' Web site explains how to help:

Get a cheek swab to see if you are a match for Trevor through the National Marrow Donor Program or at your local blood bank. If you live in the Sacramento region, find a local Sacramento blood bank. The cost is $52 per test. If you can not afford this fee, there are programs available to try and defrey the cost.

As it turns out, Bloodsource has an office at Town and Country Village, near Fulton and Marconi, that opens as early as 7:30 a.m. on some days. My regular bus goes by Watt and Marconi. It was just a matter of figuring out the connections with the bus that travels down Marconi.

My target was arriving at Fulton and Marconi as close to 7:30 a.m. as possible.

The 82 bus that goes by my house arrives at Watt and Marconi at 7:08 and 7:36.

The 25 bus that goes down that stretch of Marconi arrives at Watt at 7:03, 7:08 and 7:56. After that, buses run every hour.

The idea of trying to catch the 7:03 or 7:08 (are these buses attached by a string?) from a bus scheduled to arrive on the opposite side of Marconi at 7:08 brought up images of standing at the corner waiting to cross the street while the Marconi bus rushes past. And if that happened, it would be an hour wait for the next bus. Obviously, the best bet would be to arrive at Watt at 7:36 in order to catch the 7:56 Marconi bus. That was doable. Getting from Bloodsource to work would be a piece of cake. The 26 bus down Fulton to 65th Street runs every 30 minutes. In fact, I could take the other Fulton bus to the Watt light rail station or the Marconi bus to light rail. Not a bad corner to be on.

After deciding on the bus route I went to National Marrow Donor Program to register. And that is when I discovered all this bus route planning had been wasted. I can't donate bone marrow.

About 35 years ago, I spent the night with a woman in Olongapo, a city just outside the gates of the U.S. Navy's Subic Bay facility in the Philippines. A few days later, after my ship had returned to sea, I got sick. It felt like a real bad case of the flu with a mind-altering fever. It lasted a couple of days, and then it was gone and I gave it no thought.

It was 10 years ago, give or take a year, that my son's karate school was having a blood drive. I gave blood, as I had on several occasions before. But this time I got a letter from the blood bank telling me that my donation had been discarded. Modern testing techniques developed in the age of HIV had identified Hepatitis C antibodies in my blood.

The health questions for National Marrow Donor Program ask whether you have ever had Hepatitis C. I answered yes, and that was the end of my application. I was invited to donate money, but I won't be allowed participate in the bone marrow lottery that seeks to help Trevor Kott.

I've donated the price of a test. I hope others will make the effort to help Trevor.

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