“I’ve applied for every government program that I can think of,” she said. “I don’t qualify for food stamps, I don’t qualify for any programs. For middle-class people like me, there are no programs.”
Then, last fall, she found a possible solution. By donating plasma — the liquid element in human blood containing vital antibodies and proteins — twice a week each week, Seal could earn between $400 to $500 per month.
That Tuesday at the plasma clinic, the waiting room was also nearly full.
“$20 Fuel Bonus after every 4th Donation. Your wallet will love you and your car will ‘tank’ you,” read a poster on the wall.
“When you refer a friend you earn a $50 Buddy Bonus!” another said.
Seal had arrived with her boyfriend, Jason Boyer, 41. None of this was normal for him yet. It was only his second visit, and he mirrored her steps as she checked in at a video kiosk along the wall. Then they found seats, and bits of conversation drifted from the other rows.
“I was going to this other one; they give you a hundred for each visit,” one person said.
“I like here that the process is faster, the machine is quicker,” another explained.
“Some places, the heavier you are, the more money you get,” a woman said.
Seal left the center a few hours later with $50 added onto a debit card from the clinic. Thursday’s trip would add $80. Lately, she had started to experience excruciating stabs of pain in her abdomen. But her family needed those payments so badly that Seal forced herself to continue to those twice-weekly trips.