We gave up after about 50 minutes. Got there around 11:30, and B needed to be home by 1 to pick up child care duties. When 3 people with appointments showed up at 12:15 (one's appt. was for 12, the other two for 12:30), we tried to leave. We didn't have appointments, and I certainly understand that people with appointments go first. However, that wasn't really the problem--the whole process was moving at a glacial pace. A staff person made an attempt to work us in, but it was clear they just wouldn't be able to get us out by B's deadline.
It's been a long while since I donated regularly, but my memory was that it was generally set up assembly-line fashion. A greeter met you, got you to read the necessary papers, and handed you off to a nurse/technician who took your vital signs, pricked your finger, and asked all the medical interview questions. Then you were handed off yet again to the actual vampire, who generally was dealing with 3 or so donors at once--get this one started, monitor that one, finish this one up.
The operation today seemed to have the same staff members taking people through the entire process--greeting, interviewing, and the actual donation. They also had a mix of whole blood donors and apheresis donors to further confuse things. End result: they seemed to take a whole-blood donor about every 10-15 minutes, which is not very many. When we left, no one had gotten far enough with our folders to have printed out our information sheets--we unclipped our donor cards from otherwise empty folders.
The real shame is all the donations they are losing--people like us who gave up and those who came in but couldn't even wait the 45 minutes that we did. And this after they've been making appeals for donors. Final irony: in my mail today was a letter from the ARC telling me how much they need my type O blood and to please donate.
I got home and scheduled a donation for 1:00 Monday at a smaller donation center near my office. Here's hoping it operates a little better than the main donor center...