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