I’ve missed a few challenges for this (W)rite of Passage thing, but I’m trying to get back to it now. This week’s challenge: the job. “Pick a day of your life in a significant, or completely insignificant, job and make us feel like we’re living it with you.”
I thought about this and realized that I’ve never written about this on my blog before, so this might be news to most of you. Here goes.
I was 20 years old, and I took a semester off from college to “find myself.” A friend of my sister hired me for a job doing secretarial work at a drug testing company. Essentially, the company would do drug screens on school bus drivers, truck drivers, construction crews… really, anyone who had to have a commercial driver’s license to do their job.
Then the drug test results would come in, and I was the person who would type up all of the letters to the company.
“We regret to inform you that Employee X is apparently snorting coke before he drives a bus full of elementary kids to school, and then smoking pot to come down at night.”
It was never written quite that explicitly, but man, I always wanted to say it that way. Especially with the breath alcohol test results.
“Employee Z was drunker than Cooter Brown at 8:00 in the damn morning. What the hell, dude?”
One day, we got a phone call from a convenience store in a tiny town called Union, Mississippi. (For those of you who might know the area: it’s about halfway between Hattiesburg and Laurel. A good 90 miles or so from Jackson.) The guy who owned the convenience store was sure that one of his employees was smoking pot before she came to work, and he wanted to bust her for it. The store had about 10 employees total (working on different shifts), and my boss told him that the best approach would be to just issue a mandatory drug screen for all of his employees; that way it doesn’t look like discrimination against the one girl who he suspected was a pothead. He asked if we could do the drug screening for him, my boss said yes.
My boss made one huge mistake, though: the day the drug test was scheduled? All of our field drug testing employees were already scheduled to be at other sites all over the state. Under normal circumstances, that would mean that my boss would have to drive out there and do the pee-collection herself. But she was about 3 months pregnant at the time, and she said that if she had to smell and/or handle other people’s pee that early in the morning, she was going to throw up.
At that point, I had worked at this drug testing company for almost a year. I had heard so many stories around the office about pee testing, I was pretty much immune to all of it. It was June, and I was going back to college in August, at which point I’d be quitting (since I was going to school out-of-state), so I knew I might never have this opportunity again. So I decided to man up, and I volunteered to collect the pee of strangers.
My boss went with me, and we drove out to Union early one morning. The owner of the convenience store had told all of his employees to come in early for a staff meeting, and then, surprise! While you’re here, you’ll also need to go into the bathroom and pee in a cup. I thought it was kind of a lousy way to handle the situation, but I also think that if you work at a convenience store in Union, Mississippi, your life has already perhaps not turned out the way that you’d hoped, so what’s one more insult to add to your injury?
We donned our white lab coats and rubber gloves and set up all of our paperwork and supplies. One by one, the employees went in, did their stuff, and brought out their cups full of pee. They’d hand the cups to me, and I’d put the little stickers on the cups that labeled them accordingly with the paperwork. Then each cup was sealed, the sealed cup went into a plastic bag, and the paperwork was put in a little sleeve on the outside of the plastic bag. Then the packaged-up pee cups would all go into a big styrofoam cooler-type contraption, which is how we’d transport them to the lab for testing.
Oh, and the girl who the owner suspected was smoking weed? She walked into the store, saw us in our lab coats, walked over to her boss, quit her job on the spot, and walked out. Although it proved that he was most likely correct in his assumption of her drug use, that was actually a very smart move on her part, as it kept her from having a positive drug test on her record. And the owner was kinda pissed, because then he had to go ahead and pay us for running the drug test results on his other 9 employees who were all clean.
So, yeah. One time, almost 14 years ago, I collected pee. How many of y’all can put that on your resume?
Other (W)rite of Passage stories here: