Guinea Pig for Science and Booze (#336)

In college I “procured” a great deal of parking tickets.  I drove my parent’s old ’79 Pontiac Bonneville around campus.  The interior roof was caving in on the thing, so in a futile attempt I tried to pin up the felt with thumb tacks.  The car was also a tank.  A land yacht.  And -due to my college bank account- it was always running out of gas.  Often, friends of mine would pass by my campus only to see my car stalled up on an embankment with a sign in the windshield reading “out of gas.”  My college mates and I named the car, “NESSIE.”  Nessie stood for “necessita gasolina.”  Basically, the Spanish for, “Needs Gas.”


college car

Nessie, is that you? By God, I think it might be…


The parking ticket thing was ridiculous.  I was -regrettably- an irresponsible child.  Every other day I received a ticket.  It got to the point where I’d just throw it in the back of the car as if I were collecting land fill or a creative new way to wallpaper a mansion.  My friends would literally have to kick the mounds of violations aside in order to even sit down.


Well, it caught up with me – as anarchy always does.


I had a court date.  I sobbed to the judge.  He didn’t want to hear it.  I had to pay, plain and simple.  An installment plan was arranged.  I would’ve spent some time in jail if I could’ve avoided my mother’s annoyance about the whole thing.  But, hear she did since the car was registered in her name.


“I’ll take care of it,” I yelled.  “Don’t worry about it.  I’ll fix it,” I repeated waving my arms around my head trying to ward off her disapproval.


I had to pay off these feckin’ things.


So, I did what any college wacko would do.  I donated my body to science.


You see, I grew up playing sports.  As such, most of my friends had nicknames or we called each other by our last names like a bunch of dudes.  I’m okay with that.  Better for a girl to grow up respecting other women as teammates then thinking of them as nothing other than rivals.  A friend on one sports team or another had heard about my dilemma.  Her name was “Bean.”  I’m sure that wasn’t her god given name, but that was how I knew her.


Bean came to me and said, “I heard about your ticket problem.  Do you want to make some quick cash?”  I did.


Bean explained about a research hospital that was testing the generic form of birth control.  All we had to do was get a physical by a doctor, take the pill, and be monitored at the facility over the weekend.  After two days, we’d be paid $800.


800 smackers.  That was close to what I owed in tickets!  I was in.  Sign me up.


Bean and I got our physicals and headed to the clinic to “check in” for the weekend.  The demographics of the study were interesting.  There were about 12 African-American women doing it and 2 white girls (us).  There were 12 women in their 30s partaking in the study and 2 girls in their early 20s (us, again).  To say we stuck out was an understatement.


We each had a bed and there was a tv in the common room.  I made the mistake of wanting to turn the channel to take a break from Judge Judy.  A woman named Laqwanda looked at me like she was going to cut me right then and there if I so much as touched the remote.


hospital gown

Watch whatever you want, Laqwanda. I don’t have enough blood for this…


Not that the cutting would’ve worked.  You see, I was as dry as a stone.  “Why?” you ask.  “Was I a vampire?”  No.  It was because they were taking blood from us every hour, on the hour.


A small amount of blood, but blood every hour, nonetheless.  If you’ve ever had that much blood taken you’ll understand how it makes you feel after a while – basically, like a shell of your former self.  Full-of-blood-me would’ve taken on Laqwanda, but depleted-blood-me said, “Feck it” and went back to bed.


I slept a lot that weekend.  I think the study was far more grueling than Bean and I had anticipated, but at the end of it we had 800 bucks and the blood supply of two gnats.


So, was it worth it?  Yeah, I think so.  My tickets got paid and I avoided doing the only other study ever offered to college women – the donate your eggs one.


There were so many “donate your eggs” advertisements in my college newspaper you would think there was a baby farm happening right outside the main campus area.  I thought about doing that study quite a bit, but something always deterred me.  I think it was the “small surgical procedure” phrase listed right under: DONATE YOUR EGGS and $10,000.


Focus groups and medical studies are interesting.  I often wonder if the “focus group” has truly been replaced for the most part by the internet.  Why conduct a focus group when you can easily put up an online survey.  Medical studies will always happen or at least for as long as there are poor people and things to be found out.


Since those early college days, the only other focus groups I have participated in were for booze.  Wifesy and I signed up for one while taking a walk along the San Francisco pier.  Hell, it was $20 and free wine.  I don’t understand humans who would say no to that.


What about you?  Ever go under the microscope to pay off a debt?  Ever test out a product to get a freebie?



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Photo creds:

hospital-gown, Pontiac


19 thoughts on “Guinea Pig for Science and Booze (#336)

  1. I thought you were going to say Nessie was short for Loch Ness because that car is a beast!
    Nope, I haven’t done the “scientific method” for cash, but I did consider putting my identity on Craigslist to see how much I could get for it.

      1. It is a bit scary. We’ve sold several items on CL and each time a buyer came to pick up the (dorm fridge/bike rack/dishwasher) I expected to hear my husband yell from the garage, “Honie call 911!”

        Really funny story:
        The day after Thanksgiving we got an email about a phone my husband had on CL. He’d upgraded his phone even though it was still perfectly good. With electronics, people want to try before they buy. So, we met the guy at the Verizon store and made the transaction. On the way out of the store my husband asks the guy why he needed a replacement for his $700 iPhone. He said he wasn’t due for an upgrade, but needed a new phone because he had used the flashlight app to change the light bulb in their oven in preparation for Thanksgiving Day. While preheating for the turkey that morning they smelled “something strange”. Yeah, he’d left it on the rack inside the oven.

  2. LOL. I was going to donate my eggs because I make damned cute kids. I even thought about joining Mensa so I could auction my eggs off to eBay and make a mint. My husband and I have considered making embryos and auctioning them off, too. Not because we are hard-up for cash (we are, my husband has a Sak’s appetite on a WalMart budget) but because we don’t want anymore children to raise, but think there ought to be a lot of mini-me’s running around. Does this make me sound conceited? Meh, don’t care. 😉

    Still need to watch the movie. Will do it tonight. XOXO

    1. i heart you, undercover. you’re friggin’ hilarious. a) i also have a ‘saks appetite and walmart budget’ so i FEEL you and your hubby. looool. and as for the embryos…nope, not conceited at all, at least not to me. that’s the only reason i even consider having kids. loooollll. i should’ve donated them long ago, so i wouldn’t have to raise ’em — it’s the cowards way out, really. 😉 xoxo, sm

  3. Ungh… I guess losing some blood for science isn’t so bad but it still makes me shiver. I’m too much of a coward to do something like that. :/

  4. I am a diabetic so about 12 years ago I took part in a study on a new pill. It was a triple blind study and after about a year of taking the pill and having my toes rattled by what seemed to be an electric tuning fork once a month (payment of gas money – $40 each time) it was stopped. “Some patients have been having heart attacks,” said the researcher. So off I went and eventually had one and possibly two silent heart attacks. Or, so my GP and I think. My cardiologist, however, thinks I had a virus that damaged my heart on one side. Who knows? But obviously I didn’t do it for money, or because I liked the drive from Niagara Falls into downtown Toronto. I thought it It could have been the antidote for excessive junk food eating.

  5. I love a good medical study, took part in quite a few but none that involved any of my secretions, oh hang on, I did one where they took my spit. All in the name of research and all worth a few dollars.

    Love this story, love the car, understand the parking ticket pain!

  6. Genius, parking tickets paid and all you did was watch Judge Judy and lose some blood! Impressive, you didn’t go the stripper route, the escort route none of that terrible “I am really a good girl getting my education”. I am so impressed, I knew I loved you.

    Nah, never did any studies. One of my pain management doctors wanted me to do one, I have very high pain thresholds. They weren’t going to pay me anything though. I was like wait, what? You want to cause me pain, you don’t want to give me money…this is good why? He said it would teach them things about pain, it would help others. I am in pain all the time, again I would do this why?

    No, I don’t think I like humanity that much. Thanks for thinking of me though.

  7. That car reminds me of my 1973 Bonneville. We called her “Bonnie,” and she would have made a great partner to Nessie–beastly.
    You’ve got some balls being a tester for the pill, or anything for that matter, so I admire your desperate courage. Anything for Nessie!

  8. I am terrified of hospitals, tests, doctors and needles so no way no how would I ever volunteer for some freaky test, I admire your bravery, moms and I’m guessing Nessie stopped taking up space in the no parking zones. As always, your escapades are funny as hell and I can often envision them in my mind the way you so expertly craft your stories. Alas the only ballsy thing I did for money was dance on a piano in a bar to that song You Can Leave Your Hat On. Long ago and it was fun. I was in a business suit and it didn’t involve blood-letting.

  9. That car is amazing. Land yacht for sure.
    That’s pretty crazy you donated blood for cash – did they make you take any supplements to the birth control?

    I lived off focus groups in NYC – deodorant, whiskey, beer, tea, but never gave blood.

  10. Maybe I could do this instead of getting a real job. I have students loans and bills to pay. It’s either medical test dummy or hooker – and I don’t think I would make much money as a prostitute.

  11. I’m sorry to say that I never got paid for any of my “experimenting” in college. (Or any other time for that matter).
    I learned to drive in my Dad’s Bonney. It was awesome. I could fit half the football team in there.

  12. Hahaha Sweet Mother I absolutely loved that, you do not cease to surprise me 😉 No, never did, but I love your ingenuity and quick thinking 😉 and glad there were no side effects like turning green or something!

    ‘Why conduct a focus group when you can easily put up an online survey’ okay now you’re getting to the sociologist in me. I hope it was a rhetorical question!

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