Drug tests make me extremely anxious. Not because I have something to hide or I’m afraid I won’t pass one. It’s just the whole process can be a little distressing. To be clear, I’m not some kind of felon out on work release that is randomly drug tested. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I can’t go to prison. I’m too cute. I can’t be anybody’s love interest in a women’s prison. Also, I don’t know how to make a shiv out of crumbling cinderblocks and prison-issue soap. But more on that another time. Right now I’m just starting a new job.
My apprehension starts when I know the test is looming. I don’t take or do illegal drugs and other than the portion that my doctor doles out for some weird uncontrollable cough that they have yet to contain, I don’t like drugs. For said uncontrollable cough, the doctor recently put me on these little white capsules that are full of tiny beads. I gag every time I try to take one because I swear when it’s slowly bumping it’s way down my throat, I can HEAR the little beads shifting into the lower part of the capsule. The sound is a muted version of what you hear when you pour Nerds candy directly from the box into your mouth. But it’s a strange to hear that sound coming from INSIDE YOUR OWN THROAT. I’m also always afraid that because the capsule is made out of a gel, that it’s going to dissolve before it gets to my stomach and all the little beads are going to spread out all over my tongue and make me throw up. As if those things aren’t worrisome enough, there is then the taste of this capsule. After I’ve swallowed the pill and it is theoretically solving my croup, the aftertaste makes me feel like a skunk has rolled around in Sugar Smacks and two-week-old stale cigarette butts and then curled up on my tongue.
So when you have to take a drug test, they don’t tell you in advance because you might try to flush out your system or get someone else to give you clean urine that you will then pour into a flask and strap to your innner thigh and pour into the cup when you’re alone in the bathroom. (There’s no sure way to fake your way through a drug test. They note the temperature of the pee as soon as you’re done and while the bottle of your friend’s urine that you’ve been straddling in the waiting room will be warm, they’ll know it’s not “fresh” by the temperature. Also if you’re dumb enough to try this I hope you’re smart enough to throw the flask away instead of continuing to use it when you go bar-hopping) They spring the test on you which, for me causes even more anxiety because of the pressure to “perform.”
As soon as I know I’m taking a drug test, I start drinking water. This is the part that makes me the most uneasy. I am always so scared that I won’t be have enough pee to suit their urine needs. This fear is not unfounded. In fact, this fear is based on one drug testing experience gone horribly wrong.
I got hired a few years ago for a job and upon accepting their job offer, I was handed the pee test lab sheet. I was told I had to take the test within twenty four hours. No problem, right? I don’t do drugs so this will be a cakewalk. I went to the lab and signed in and waited my turn. They called me back and gave me the little pee cup that was marked where I was to fill it. I went into the special bathroom and did what I had to do. I have to say that even in drug testing, it really is a man’s world because you menfolk definitely have the advantage of ease when it comes to peeing into a cup but I’ll spare you the details. I walked back out, leaving the pee cup on the ledge in the bathroom, just like I was told to do. The lady went in and got the cup, brought it back out, looked at it, and then looked at me.
“I’m afraid this isn’t enough.”
“Excuse me? I filled to the line,” I said, annnoyed that she who dealt in urine all day, was questioning my obvious expertise.
“You needed to fill it to the top line. You only filled it to the second line. You’re going to have to try again,” she said coldly. Whatever happened to bedside manner among health care professionals?
I panicked a little because I had really given it my all. I knew that I had nothing left at my disposal (pun intended).
“I don’t have to go anymore. I mean, I don’t think I CAN go anymore.”
“Don’t worry, this happens all the time,” (NOW she chooses to be supportive…) She reached into a little dorm-size fridge and handed me a bottle of water. “Just go out in the waiting room and drink this and then let the receptionist know when you’re ready to TRY again.”
I took the bottle of water from her and walked back out into the waiting room. After already feeling like a failure at something that I’d been doing my entire life (and at one point and on several other various occasions, doing INVOLUNTARILY) the trek back into the waiting room was like a walk of shame. By this time, it was full of people who were fidgeting and crossing their legs, raring to go take their tests and I was basically carrying the scarlet letter of drug tests. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone but accidentally stared directly into the eyes of the kind-of-hot guy sitting directly across from where I sat down. He was sitting up very straight in his chair and frantically tapping his I’m-so-super-cool-I-can-wear-thong-sandals-and-not-look-like-I’m-trying-too-hard clad foot. This I recognized as the pee dance of adults. Showoff.
I tried to chug down the bottle of ice cold water fast so I could leave and limit the mounting humiliation . About ten minutes later, I was ready. And confident. Maybe a little too confident.
Take 2: FAIL. Another bottle of water. Another walk of shame. Another fifteen minutes of sitting among a whole new room of people judging me for my inability to perform a basic human function. Again I drank down the entire bottle and told the receptionist I was ready for my test. I could tell that she was feeling a little sorry for me because she kind of gave me one of those “I know you can do it!” smiles. She was definitely pulling for me.
Take 3: SUCCESS. RELIEF(again, pun intended) The pee tech had me stand there and verify that it was my urine by putting a lid on the cup and labeling it with a sticker that reached from one side of the cup over the lid to the other side, securing it’s contents. She put the time and temperature on it, initialed it, had me initial it and we said our goodbyes.
And of course, driving the four miles from the lab to my house, I had to stop at McDonald’s to use their restroom because I had to go so bad. I’m pretty sure this was my body mocking me.
That was four years ago. I haven’t taken one since. Tomorrow, however, I am going to take a drug test and I am hoping to be that frantic foot tapper in the waiting room, but without the thong sandals because I don’t like my toes separated….