Pissing contests.

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 March 22, 2006.

Pissing contests.

I’ve never had the pleasure of having an actual pissing contest with one of my clients, only metaphorical ones. In such contests the donor will try to assert himself as some kind of alpha male, transcendent, lifted above the rules that govern mere mortals. I delight in tormenting such people, especially when it can be done in such a way as to scarcely pay them any attention at all. Observe.

Once a week I have to be at the office earlier than normal in order to accomodate our largest client. At the beginning of each month I get a list of forty or fifty names of employees that have been randomly selected to show up on these pre-determined mornings for testing. So I show up early, do collections for a solid hour or two, and then revert to my typical day of killing time.

The pissing contest is initiated by Mr. Pissy, who is in a bad mood that he has been selected for random testing at all. We get to the part in the sign-in procedure where I need to see Mr. Pissy’s photo ID. Instead of giving it to me, he wants to argue about the process by which names are randomly chosen in his company.

“Sorry sir, that’s something you’d have to ask your supervisors.”

“How do you know who is supposed to be here?”

“I have a list.”

“Can I see the list?”


“I’m not giving you my ID until I see the list.”

Okay, suit yourself. I tell Mr. Pissy that if he should have a seat until I have a chance to help the three men waiting behind him. He sits there fuming while I conduct these three collections. During the elapsed 20 minutes three more men have come in behind him. After the third collection is done he approaches once again, this time with his ID in his hand. I go to take it.

“Not so fast, I want to see this list.”

“I’m not authorized to show the list to anyone.”

He throws his ID on the counter, muttering something about how this is all ridiculous. I fill in his name, birthdate and phone number. I’m halfway through writing his social security number (which is on my list) when he tries to stop me.

“You’re not allowed to put my social on there.”

“Of course I am. All federal drug tests require it.”

“Not if I say you can’t.”

“Well then,” I shrug, “you’ll just have to have a seat and wait for the gentlemen who don’t say I can’t.”

I proceed to take the next three men ahead of him. Two of them hand me their social security cards, which is a nice but unnecessary gesture. I get the impression that these guys are going out of their way to make a statement to Mr. Pissy about how not ridiculous the process is if you don’t act like a child.

The office empty once again, I ask Mr. Pissy if he’s ready to continue. He doesn’t protest the use of his social security number again.

I take him back and ask him to empty his pockets. He puts his ID and sunglasses on the counter and holds his hand out, expecting me to hand him the sample cup.

“Everything out of all your pockets, please,” I tell him.

He places a wad of tissue and his keys on the counter and then holds his hand out again.

“That includes your wallet, radio, cell phone, and your knife case, please.”

“You’re not getting my wallet.”

“I’ll lock it up for you if you want but–”

You’re not getting my wallet.

Okay, suit yourself. I throw the sample cup away and head out to the lobby where a few more people have started emerging. It’s now past the time I’d normally be open. Mr. Pissy has been here over 40 minutes.

I help a couple young ladies get a job at a call center somewhere before Mr. Pissy speaks up again. “Look, are we gonna do this or not?”

“Depends on whether or not you want to cooperate.”

“This is ridiculous. I’m out of here.”

I inform Mr. Pissy that if he leaves I have to record his paperwork as having refused to test.

“That’s idiotic! Are you saying I can’t leave?”

“I’m saying you shouldn’t.”

“I’m calling my boss to report you. You can’t be doing this stuff to people.”

I have his supervisor on my speed dial. By the time he’s whipped out his cell phone I’m already talking to his boss. “Good morning, it’s Richard. Oh, pretty good. Listen, I have one of your guys here, says he wants to talk to you. Okay, hold on.”

I hand Mr. Pissy the phone. He doesn’t believe what he’s seing. Of course he had no intention of calling anyone at all; he was bluffing in order to scare me. I know from experience that employers (and this employer especially) don’t like to hear about people having problems with their drug tests.

Mr. Pissy stammers something out to his boss. Suddenly he’s a little lamb. “No, sir, he did– he didn’t tell me about the social thing. I didn’t know about that. No, he didn’t say nothing about having a box to put my stuff in. Yeah I’ve been here for like 45… well almost an hour. Yes sir. Yeah, okay.”

He hands my phone back to me. “He wants to talk to you again.”

I have a pre-existing arrangement with this employer. Usually I stack up their copies of the paperwork, and once a week they send a guy around to pick them up. For this man, though, The Bossman wants Mr. Pissy to deliver the company’s copy to him personally. I can only imagine there’s going to be an interesting conversation there.

Mr. Pissy’s collection goes off without a hitch after that. Suddenly all the little roadblocks don’t seem to bother him.

I cross him off the list. Despite being the first from his company to show up today, he’s the last one finished. He turned what should have been a five-minute collection into a fifty-five minute pissing contest, in which he scored zero points. I call The Bossman back and tell him that Mr. Pissy is on the way with his form.

Then, my busiest, earliest morning behind me, I sit down to get back into my book.

This story is actually a month old. Mr. Pissy showed up on his company list again this month. Today he didn’t seem to mind drug testing at all. Go figure.

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