From 2005 to 2008 I maintained a blog about my experiences working in the drug test industry. Every Sunday I revive one of those experiences here. The following was originally posted May 17, 2007.
I felt bad for Mr. Quiet because he didn’t seem to me to be the type who would attempt to cheat on a drug test. He was very polite and soft-spoken, was not the least bit combative or nervous, and didn’t ask any strange questions about loopholes. He didn’t set off any red flags. I quickly decided that he probably just had the bad luck of running a high temperature. Not common, but it happens.
I stood behind Mr. Quiet in the bathroom as he went through the motions. Ten seconds in, however, he discontinued the process claiming he just couldn’t go. This was definitely strange… even if you didn’t feel the urge, you’d give it more than ten seconds, right?
I put Mr. Quiet’s paperwork in the “not ready” box and instruct him to drink as much water as he needs. It’s pretty early in the afternoon, so there’s no hurry; he can sit there for hours if he wants, or leave and come back, or pretty much anything really. Ball’s in his court.
Fifteen minutes before closing, I get called back up. Mr. Quiet’s ready. In the middle of putting together a last-minute overnight order for one of our clients, I told the up-front girls to go ahead and take someone ahead of him, and that I’d be up in five minutes. When I made it up to there, the collection-in-progress was only halfway done, so I stood nearby and waited patiently for my turn.
From where I stood I could look into the reception area and out through the window into the waiting room. I watched as someone dumped $1.50 into our soda machine, skimmed over a couple waiting on an immigration physical, and to Mr. Quiet sitting in the corner. I gave him a polite nod.
Another minute goes by, and Mr. Quiet approached the receptionist. I couldn’t hear what he said, and in fact didn’t even know he had stepped up until I heard the up-front girl say, “Huh? Speak up sweetie, I can’t hear you.” Mr. Quiet glanced nervously at me, shrugged sheepishly, and said “I’m sorry man… it’s nothing personal… just… I don’t know what to make of that look.” Then he turned back to the up-front girl and reinforced his point: “Didn’t you see? He just gave me a really weird look. Like, really uncomfortable. Can someone else do the test?”
The up-front girl looked at me, stupefied. She didn’t know the answer to the question (of course) but I did: “Sir, I’m the only male collector on duty today. It’s me or no one.”
“Can I come back tomorrow? I’m sorry but I’m just real uncomfortable.”
“I’m pretty much the only male collector who works here, sir. You’ll have to get in touch with your employer if you want to arrange to go somewhere else.” That’s actually only a half-truth: the president of the company is also certified to do collections, but let’s be honest, nobody actually expects him to. If Mr. Quiet wants this drug test done, he’s really only got the one option.
By now, the collection-in-progress is done and I retrieve Mr. Quiet’s sheet. He follows me back, apologizing the whole way, repeating “I just really don’t know what to make of that look… you know?”
A brief aside: Mr. Quiet’s complaint about a “look” might not be completely unwarranted. I wasn’t convinced he was a cheater at first, but his shabby performance during the first witnessed test didn’t exactly win him any points with me. If the look on my face said “this guy is a scumbag cheater” when we locked eyes for one magical moment as I as scanning the lobby, well, you’ll have to forgive me. More likely, Mr. Quiet was looking for any semi-legit opportunity to duck out of a drug test he knew he’d fail, no matter how flimsy the pretense.
So we went through the whole song and dance, the “empty your pockets please”, the “you understand this test is to be witnessed”, the whole nine yards. And again, he gives a shoddy ten second showing where he doesn’t even pretend to try to urinate, then gives up. “I can’t do it,” he says. “I just can’t do it.”
Mr. Quiet elected to leave the office and return the next day, pending permission to do so from whatever hapless company thinks it wants to employ him.
The next day Mr. Quiet returned. His employer had given permission for a second witnessed test. However, this time when he saw that once again I was the only person available for the collection, he raised a small fuss about how he was assured it wouldn’t be the guy who gave him the “weird look.” We certainly assured him of no such thing. Perhaps his employer did, not knowing the circumstances, but in any case these assurances did not match reality. He left without even filling out the paperwork.
The next day (today) I learned that Mr. Quiet couldn’t be witnessed because he had kidney stones. Now, I’m of the opinion that the man was just trying to duck a drug test by any means necessary. I admit that I could be wrong, and that the poor guy just doesn’t want some other dude watching him pee. Maybe he gets stage fright really easily. But again, making excuses doesn’t help his case any. After today’s visit it seems Mr. Quiet finally gave up the fight and his prospective employer passed him over for one of the fifty guys standing behind him for the same job.
Sorry, Mr. Quiet. Don’t leave it in the microwave so long next time, eh?
I enjoy watching people pump money into the soda machine because I’m the guy who stocks it and profits from it. *clack* *clack* *rumbarumba* *THUNK* — Thanks for the twenty-six cents, mister!