Penny Pinching: 3

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Making money as medical test subjects has always been a great student tradition, and who can blame us? In this year’s Freshers’ Fair, one company promised over £1.5k for three months of testing, which entailed no more than 15 hours of contact time. Now I’m not exactly drawing heavily on two years of physics to tell you that that’s a good deal, and with overdrafts to pay, stash to buy, and the prospect of yet *another* summer with the financial burden of having to go to Zante on a two week bender, for some these kinds of offers are too good to resist.

Suggest this to your parents, however, and they’ll let loose an endless supply of horror stories, if not from a Radio 2 phone-in, then from a friend of ‘‘someone from the club’’. The more enterprising of you may have already tried to extort compensation from your seniors in return for agreeing not to participate, although your success will wholly depend on your powers of persuasion, and the size of your trust fund.  Ostensibly, their attempts to shock even the most cash-strapped and principle-free student into a cowering mess are because they ‘love you’; well don’t be fooled. They’re almost certainly cashing in on the testing racket themselves, and want to keep you from getting in on the action. Probably.
What those trying to warn students of the risks of medical testing are overlooking is that contracting a mild form of a serious illness is an unrivalled asset to any student. Some might go so far as to describe it as ‘banter’.
Picture the scene: you’re working the Park End lounge room (standard), despite carrying a potent and highly infectious disease that was *worth it* to pay off your overdraft/for that phenomenal time in Amsterdam/to buy your own fucking washing machine so you’ll never again return to find a layer of dust and washing powder all over your freshly washed garments. Not that I’m bitter. Anyway, on approaching a ‘looker’, it’s your move. Previously you’d be stuck with such lead balloons as ‘I swear so many people have that dress!’ or ‘Did we crewdate once?’. However, with your new found asset you’ll never be short of a sob story about how you’re coping with your condition day by day, with highs and lows, etc etc; just substitute ‘highly infectious’ ‘for ‘impossible to catch’ and you’re good to go. Just don’t mention any of your other diseases that are ‘impossible to catch’.
Whilst there are many who won’t hesitate to dissuade you from medical testing, when I was asked by my editor, ‘How against sperm donation are you?’ I thought the answer was pretty clear cut – ‘Where do I sign up?’ However, a quick internet search stopped me in my tracks, as I read about the legislation that gives any donor-born child the power to legally track down and contact their biological father after a certain age. The thought of previously unknown offspring unexpectedly bursting into my life already keeps me up at night, so to increase the chance of this happening to ‘actually-pretty-damn-likely’ for a quick cash-flow fix seemed madness. A peek on a leading clinic’s website revealed the worst; one satisfied donor enthused, ‘I try to donate sperm once a week, but work commitments mean that it’s not always possible. I continue to keep in close contact with the clinic, and I find the payment helps cover my weekly train fare to London.’ Train fare to London?? What do they take us for, a bunch of tossers?

Making money as medical test subjects has always been a great student tradition, and who can blame us? In this year’s Freshers’ Fair, one company promised over £1.5k for three months of testing, which entailed no more than 15 hours of contact time. Now I’m not exactly drawing heavily on two years of physics to tell you that that’s a good deal, and with overdrafts to pay, stash to buy, and the prospect of yet *another* summer with the financial burden of having to go to Zante on a two week bender, for some these kinds of offers are too good to resist.

Suggest this to your parents, however, and they’ll let loose an endless supply of horror stories, if not from a Radio 2 phone-in, then from a friend of ‘‘someone from the club’’. The more enterprising among you may have already tried to extort compensation from your seniors in return for agreeing not to participate, although your success will wholly depend on your powers of persuasion, and the size of your trust fund.  Ostensibly, their attempts to shock even the most cash-strapped and principle-free student into a cowering mess may be because they ‘love you’; well don’t be fooled. They’re almost certainly cashing in on the testing racket themselves, and want to keep you from getting in on the action. Probably.

Those trying to warn students of the risks of medical testing are overlooking the fact that contracting a mild form of a serious illness is an unrivalled asset to any student. Some might go so far as to describe it as ‘banter’.Picture the scene: you’re working the Park End lounge room (standard), despite carrying a potent and highly infectious disease that was *worth it* to pay off your overdraft/for that phenomenal time in Amsterdam/to buy your own fucking washing machine so you’ll never again return to find a layer of dust and washing powder all over your freshly washed garments. Not that I’m bitter.

Anyway, on approaching a ‘looker’, it’s your move. Previously you’d be stuck with such lead balloons as ‘I swear so many people have that dress!’ or ‘Did we crewdate once?’. However, with your new found asset you’ll never be short of a sob story about how you’re coping with your condition day by day, with highs and lows, etc etc; just substitute ‘highly infectious’ ‘for ‘impossible to catch’ and you’re good to go. Just don’t mention any of your other diseases that are ‘impossible to catch’.

Whilst there are many who won’t hesitate to dissuade you from medical testing, when I was asked by my editor, ‘How against sperm donation are you?’ I thought the answer was pretty clear cut – ‘Where do I sign up?’ However, a quick internet search stopped me in my tracks, as I read about the legislation that gives any donor-born child the power to legally track down and contact their biological father after a certain age. The thought of previously unknown offspring unexpectedly bursting into my life already keeps me up at night, so to increase the chance of this happening to ‘actually-pretty-damn-likely’ for a quick cash-flow fix seemed madness. A peek on a leading clinic’s website revealed the worst; one satisfied donor enthused, ‘I try to donate sperm once a week, but work commitments mean that it’s not always possible. I continue to keep in close contact with the clinic, and I find the payment helps cover my weekly train fare to London.’ Train fare to London?? What do they take us for, a bunch of tossers?

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