Blood Leave

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Controllers didn’t need much of an excuse to get away from work (no matter how much some of us enjoyed it). ZJX was so far out in the boonies there wasn’t much you could do to wrangle some time off, but ZAU was in its own metropolitan area and we had a couple of decent airports nearby (ARR and DPA) to which we could take the occasional FAM trip. At both ZJX and ZAU there was a policy whereby periodically a controller could be released for the last half of his shift to go downtown and donate blood at the local blood bank. Usually referred to (unofficially) as Blood Leave, we naturally dubbed it as Vampire Leave.

One of the nice things about all these excursions was that they only took up about 45 to 90 minutes of the actual four hours allotted to the project, and once completed, you were utterly unaccountable for the rest of the time—you weren’t expected back. It was freebie leave (blood leave was restricted, I believe, to approximately two month intervals and I think they kept a log).

As you may imagine, it didn’t take controllers long to discover that the effects of alcohol on one who had recently reduced their internal blood level by a pint was magnified by a disproportionate degree to the amount of blood donated. Given that there were also at the time a number of establishments in town specializing in, shall we say, live entertainment, it should come as no surprise that if one attempted to calculate the percentage of blood leave time spent sober and in church, so to speak, one might find that the instrument capable of such infinitesimal measurement has yet to be devised.

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Last updated: 20 January 2011