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 July 29, 2005.
Today is loser day.
My working definition of “Loser” is someone older than me who is at a lower station in life. Someone older than 23 who still lives with his parents is, by my yardstick, a Loser. This sounds incredibly harsh until one realizes how many people could actively consider me a Loser; and that’s fine. Everyone considers themselves enlightened in their own little way, I suppose.
The Losers are sent to me from construction companies. From landscaping services. From call centers. From any company that mass-hires anyone they can to accomplish tasks involving manual labor or reading from a script. These companies schedule hiring drives at regular intervals to counterbalance their high turn-over rate. Sometimes several of these companies will land at or around the same day, increasing my Loser influx significantly.
How to spot a Loser? Losers are predominantly white, unshaven males. Their hair is unkempt and their clothes are dirty (more likely due to coming in after a hard day’s work than actual poor hygiene habits). They walk, bike, or bus here. They hand me a Florida ID card instead of a Florida driver’s license. Sometimes I have to fill out itineraries for their parole officers. They never ask questions, they never try to prolong the collection process, and there is an air of desperation hanging around them. The impression I always get from the Losers is that they need this job badly and they need it right now. The understanding is that any idealogical opposition to drug testing, or any recreational use of expensive, illegal drugs can wait until after they’ve secured a paycheck.
The Losers always come in alone. Every other classification of people I see will occasionally come in with friends, family members or co-workers, but the Losers are always flying solo. I wonder sometimes if they don’t have anyone to bring. Nobody to bum a ride off of. Or if they’ve simply turned down the offer.
I have a grudging respect for the Losers. They strike me as guys who have taken a hard hit or two all at once, and are scrambling back to safety. I like to think that the desperate job, the unkempt visage and the stone demeanor are all temporary stops on their road through life. I like to think that they’re getting things figured out just a little later than the rest of us.
Loser Day isn’t exactly a fun day for me. The constant stream of collections means I can’t really focus my attention on other projects, and all the frowny faces and softspoken words can actually be fairly depressing. But a high-traffic Loser-filled day is easy and stress-free. Much easier than a gaggle of idiot high school girls who refuse to follow directions, or any of those old militant trucker guys who insist on making the entire process a hassle by scrutinizing and objecting to every step of the collection. It’s an easy distinction between who needs a job and who doesn’t, at the bottom line. The Losers harbor no illusions about being better than anyone.
That’s a lesson I wish someone would teach to the rich car company brats. It’s something I think all of us, in one way or another, could learn.
I play video games all day at work, and D&D on weekends. Does that make me a Loser?