Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Urine Donations And Other Humiliations

Yesterday, I was offered a job. What that means in this country, and in my line of work, was a list of places to go, and things to do on my dime. Giving up your privacy and paying for it is just part of our "freedom" as Americans. There are several processes I have to go through in order to earn a glorious paycheck.

Step 1: TB test. After a year, one of the benefits is that the company pays for it! This time, I had to fork out $30.75 for the honor of waiting in an urgent care facility with a 18 year old who thought they were having a heart attack, an old woman who loudly told the receptionist that it hurt when she peed, and three kids running in circles around my chair. Forty minutes after signing in, I was stuck with a needle, and told to come back in two days.

Step II: Criminal background check. Emptying out your pockets and going through a metal detector in the criminal courts building, and going to the next floor up to pay $10 for the honor of checking to see if you are a crook, then up several floors to have a bored receptionist type your name in a computer, determine that you aren't a criminal, stamp in with the seal of the state. This is actually a fairly quick process. One guy in front of me was getting a print out of his lengthy criminal record on three pages! They did correctly note that one charge was expunged, and he was pleased with that fact, and headed out the door.

Step III:Fingerprint check. This one is fun, because you have to go to the county lock up facility to get it done. The theory must be that if you are a dumb criminal with an outstanding warrant who decides to get a job, they can just shuffle you down the hallway if you go through this procedure, which again cost $10. It's all computerized now. No more sticky ink.

Your left thumb is printed, your four left fingers are printed together on an optical reader, then you switch to the other hand. After suffering through being treated like a criminal, you think you are done, but you aren't. Each individual finger and both thumbs are rolled over in a smearing motion. The theory must be that you could have committed a crime, and left a good bloody smudge somewhere that Gil Grissom and the boys are going to detect using the mass spectometer, some super glue, and a corny pun.

Step IV:Pee time! This one is for free. But, there are rules attached. You aren't allowed to drink anything for three hours before you come in. Your urine must be between 90 and 100 degrees when you use the cup. You must also sit in a waiting room for a half hour with a group of people jiggling up and down because they are desperate to pee but aren't allowed to do so.

Finally, all of our names were called in an apparently random order. Poor dude who was there before me was called afterwards. We were supposed to hold our urine in, while we were told politely with a scream of "NEXT!" around a corridor to get ready to drop some trou and give up your precious bodily fluids.

First there is a form to fill out. You aren't being forced to self incriminate if you happen to smoke a little pot on the week-ends. This is strictly voluntary. It's sort of like eating, you choose to give them pee, or you could choose not to get a paycheck. The euphamism they are using now is "donor". On the back of my driver's licsence is a notation that I am an organ donor. In my fantasies, a little orphan boy is going to get the kidney and left testicle he always needed.

Here at the medical lab, I was "donating" my urine to whom I am not really sure. But a donor I was, and the form was filled out, orders were given to empty my pockets, and I freaked out that I would have bladder shyness and have to pay for the test. A steady yellow stream came out, and I was allowed to exit the building.

It is comforting to know that Americans in several fields have to go through equal humiliations and violations of their privacy. Walking through a supermarket the other day, the sign stating that they drug test all their employees left me confident in knowing that the boy who bags my groceries wasn't going to put a 5 lb bag of sugar on top of my white bread in a marijuana induced rage.

Oh, and at least I didn't have to give a stool sample. There is that.