“The stare.”

From 2005 to 2008 I maintained a blog about my experiences working in the drug test industry. Every Saturday I revive one of those experiences here. The following was originally posted October 20, 2006.

“The stare.”

My new official title is “shipping manager”, but that isn’t as exciting as “peemeister”. Fortunately, I’m still a part-time peemeister.

My job now is to take orders from clients (forms, “don’t do drugs!” posters, etc.) and ship them out. I still have a great deal of the autonomy I’ve grown so used to over the past three years; there are about a dozen people who work in the office but since I’m tucked away back in the shipping room I can go an hour or two without seeing or hearing any of them.

I still do drug test collections sometimes, but all my other responsibilities are piled on top of them. And therein lies a story:

They hired a new peemistress for up front to help with admissions, clerical work, and of course conducting drug test collections. The way the system works is that the peemistress is supposed to take care of the drug tests unless the front office gets overwhelmed, at which point she’ll call back for someone to go up and help. The three people in the back office (myself included) who are certified to take collections have the week divvied up. My days are Monday and Wednesday.

So Monday I’m sitting here staring down the barrel of fifty-some client renewal packets I need to put together. I get partway through the first one when suddenly: “Beep! Drug test, three drug tests.” That’s my cue. I go up front, do three collections, and come back to work.

I get started on my next packet and then: “Beep! Drug test, two drug tests.

Wow, I think, they must be really busy up there.

Two collections balloons into six as they pile them on me faster than I can finish them. And no sooner am I finished burning my next renewal CD do I hear: “Beep! Drug test, four drug tests.

At this point I’m noticing something peculiar. I’ve done every single drug test so far today. The peemistress has done zero. I flipped through the MRO forms sitting in the box and, sure enough, every single one of them was signed by me.

I ended up doing 35 collections that day. The peemistress did absolutely none.

I got six renewal packets done, total. Three of those were done after the office closed to drug tests, since I wasn’t interrupted anymore after that point.

Tuesday went by with calls of “Beep. Drug test” echoing through the office all day long. It wasn’t my day to be backup, but I know the girl whose day it was couldn’t have been pleased with being pulled away from her desk so often.

It was partway through Wednesday, after I’d done my tenth collection or so, that I began to get really irritated. I peeked in at the peemistress to see just what she was doing that caused her to be too busy to do her job.

She was, of course, poking around on the internet.

I pulled my boss aside. “Does the peemistress know she’s supposed to be doing drug tests?”

“I think so. Has she been trained on them?”

“I trained her myself, last week.”

“Well when the front office gets busy, they call you in for backup.”

“Right, but doesn’t it seemed strange that the backup collector did every single drug test on Monday, and every single test so far today.”

“What’s she doing?”

“Playing on the internet.”

“…okay. I’ll handle it.”

I left the stack of drug test paperwork where it sat and went back to my office. The next time I passed the peemistress in the hallway she gave me the stare.

Look, I know how sweet it is to get paid to play on the internet. And I’m certainly not saying that people shouldn’t play on the internet from work. I’m at work right now, in fact. And chances are, so are you. Heck, I’m not even saying you can’t neglect your own job so you can play around on the internet. It’s probably not a great idea but, you know, it’s between you and your boss.

But to call someone else to do your job so you can play around on the internet? That’s just really scummy.

I would have more sympathy for the peemistress if I hadn’t trained her myself. Conducting drug tests, at first, is a herculean task. There are a thousand and one tiny rules you have to adhere to just like so or the entire thing might blow up in your face. And on top of that you’re already dealing with people who hate being there to begin with. So it’s not like I’m surprised she isn’t falling over herself with enthusiasm to do these collections.

However, I walked her through every step. I watched her perform the job correctly more than a dozen times. She’s still the newbie in the office (and so am I, really, although I’m not new to the company) but the part where someone needs to hold her hand is over with. I don’t know what she was waiting for. And furthermore, I don’t know why it went on and on until I had to step up and be the squeaky wheel about it.

There’s an upside to this: you don’t do 45 drug test collections over the course of two days without getting at least one mildly entertaining story out of it… but I’ll save it for next week.

A 35-test day would have been considered amazingly busy at my old office, and that’s without the added responsibilities of my new position. A typical day at the old pee clinic would run about ten or twelve people.

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