Dignity, or…

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 August 31, 2007.

Dignity, or…

Somewhere along the line my bosses fixed the problem where I would get called away from my desk to do drug tests for no reason other than the girl who is supposed to do them broke a nail or stubbed her toe or whatever. This benefits me because I’m much less aggravated and pressed for time than I was, but it’s detrimental to this blog. In fact, today I did my first collection in almost three weeks. What’s interesting was the circumstance under which I was called.

I am apparently the go-to guy for belligerent customers now. The ones no one else can handle, or wants to. In short, the ones I tend to write about on this blog.

The ladies from data talked over each other in their efforts to articulate just how big the chip on this guy’s shoulder was. I was made aware in no uncertain terms that he was, in fact, a cocksucker and they figured I was the only one around who could put him in his place. I admit I take a bit of pride in that, though I’m not sure what (if anything) that says about me.

Mr. Dignified’s chief complaint was that he didn’t feel he should have to wait in our very nearly empty lobby. The up-front girls have developed a guideline that has everyone in for a drug test wait in the lobby for ten or fifteen minutes whether there are people ahead of them or not. I’m not clear on why the policy is in place, or even if it’s an official company policy, but there it is.

Mr. Dignified raised a stink with several people about his plight and how unfair it is. I know he was dealt with in the most professional manner possible because one of the women he spoke with is the type of person who can smile and smoothtalk her way through any confrontation. Her whole job is dealing with disaffected clients on a daily basis; she is the queen of human relations. In the year I’ve worked here I’ve never seen her even the least bit put out by a client or donor, until today.

“Ricky, I don’t know what else to tell this man… but we know you won’t take any crap from him.”

I decided that Mr. Dignified had an overly-developed sense of entitlement and decided to treat him accordingly. That is, with all the politeness I could possibly muster while making very clear to him that the rules would be followed in a very specific, exacting way.

Mr. Dignified was kind of a sketchy looking guy wearing a ratty tee-shirt and dirty jeans. He had yellow skin and teeth. I figured that the bank he was applying at must be hiring him on as the janitor, because unfair generalizations or not, this is not the type of man you look at and think to yourself, “I feel secure in trusting this gentleman with my money.”

Mr. Dignified’s collection actually went off without any comments on his part, even with all my protracted rules explanations. He didn’t mind washing his hands or emptying his pockets, he actually read the form before signing it, and even made a few feeble attempts at jokes such as: “You know this is going to just be 70% coffee, right?” I thought for a moment that maybe his time in our lobby had cooled him out a bit, that he would sheepishly finish his collection and be gone from our sight.

This was not to be. No sooner had he scooped all his belongings out of the lockbox did he start running his mouth about anything and everything. It was the same basic “drug testing is inherently unfair and I shouldn’t have to put up with it” argument that I’ve heard hundreds of times in the past, but his spin on it was a little refreshing.

“I realize that most of the people you guys get in here are criminals or whatever. But people like me — regular people — we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

I bit back a comment about how nobody in a half-rotted tee-shirt could claim to have any dignity at all, and instead responded, “Sir, well over 99% of the people we see in for drug tests are here for employment purposes. Everyone follows the same rules.”

“I’m not talking about the rules. I’m talking about dignity. You shouldn’t treat people like this.”

“The rules are the way they are to prevent cheating, collector error and lab mix-ups. It has nothing to do with respect. It’s all about protocol.”

“Look, I don’t care about that. You and your little friends back there were very rude to me and–”

“Sir, here’s your ID back. Have a nice weekend.”

“I’m not talking about not following rules or anything, I’m not a criminal, so–”

“Sir, the green copy of this form is yours. The blue copy is for your employer. Have a great day.”

“To be treated the way I was in here today, you’re the criminals here. Don’t you even care that–”

“If you like, you can file a formal complaint about everyone who was rude to you with my supervisor before you leave. Want me to get her for you?”

Instead of that, though, he chose to just stomp off. I called after him: “Sir! Your ID!” I followed him and he snatched the card out of my hand. “This green form is yours. Blue’s for your employer. Have a good one.”

As he disappeared out the door, his last comment was about how he was going to have us all fired. This might have been easier to accomplish, I think, had he taken me up on my offer to get my supervisor, but whatever.

I firmly believe that everyone (even criminals!) should be treated with, if not dignity and respect per se, at least politeness. I imagine what happened was that our chief up-front girl probably got a little snippy with him after the tenth or eleventh time he demanded new responses to questions that had already been answered, which is understandable. My personal opinion is that Mr. Dignified is a man that the world has kicked around for a while, and he was just looking to take it out on someone. He’s probably the type of guy that takes his temper tantrums all over town, causing him to receive poor customer service, which in turn prompts further temper tantrums.

As for me, if my new job is to disarm the most vile and pathetic of drug testees, it is a task I step up to enthusiastically. I will report all further adventures right here in this space.

Common consensus was that Mr. Dignified was going to try and cheat, but in reality the major jerkwads rarely do. The cheaters are the ones who are more reserved and timid because throwing a fit just increases your likelihood of getting caught.

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