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A Test to Pass

The Call Came in at 8AM...

By Chris ZPublished 3 months ago 4 min read

The call came in at 8AM on a Monday. My background check had come back clean; urinalysis was the last hiring hurdle. I was given until 2PM to claim my lab order, and afforded 48 hours from the moment I did so to tackle the task.

I bought two water gallons, and a cigar encased inside an aluminum cylinder from the corner store. Next, I drove to head shop apotheosis, Orlando’s Purple Ringer. There, I dropped 30 bucks on a bottle of Detoxify, an orally-ingested detoxicant. The product, imbibed hours before a screening, claimed to cloak the presence of certain “toxins” in one’s pee for a time.

Detoxify’s “Suggestions” included exercise prior to one’s drug screen, to “raise metabolism and hasten detoxification.” Monday, I stomped stairs for 45 minutes. Tuesday, I punched a bag until fatigue ballasted my arms. Wednesday, I ran the treadmill until my legs went limp.

Late Monday, I squatted my best friend’s stoop. Josh loves Mountain Dew like MAGA hates free and fair elections. I gifted him a 2L bottle in return for a single pristine bladder movement.

7AM Wednesday, I awoke. Detoxify lobbied for “light meals the day of your deadline;” I made do with an egg white on toast. At 1:00PM, I broke the seal. The “tropical flavor” was a nauseating citrus parody. It took me 20 minutes to drown 16 ounces.

Pulling out of my parking space, a concern crossed my mind like sniper fire: The sample I was about to submit had been sitting out for a day and a half. Lukewarm urine might raise red flags. I considered nuking it, but the half-hour drive to Quest Diagnostics made doing so pointless. What’s more, what if the cigar sheath’s briny load failed to fill the specimen jar? My worries multiplied like wet gremlins. I thought about ditching the ringer altogether, but, having binge drank H2O for two days, I feared I’d piss Evian. I resolved to supplement Josh’s bladder bilge with just enough of my own to warm the batch.

I breached the lab’s bowels. I moved gingerly, lest the cigar sleeve give my bikini briefs the slip. A female lab tech attended to paperwork, while a Samoan in a snug lab coat audited my health history. I talked too much, trying to look less nervous. To sell my “guy with nothing to hide” guise, I conceived of a few pranks the two could/should play on patients for schadenfreude. One involved downcast eyes, and a deep sigh, before apprising patients of their perfect health.

I was issued a specimen cup, and ordered not to flush or run the faucet. Inside the john, I accessed my contraband. Whilst popping the cork, decorative paint flecks fouled the sample. Luckily, said flakes floated, allowing me to purge them for the price of only a few drops. This seemingly insignificant deed could have done me in. A trickle of moisture in an otherwise bone-dry sink basin would evince my defiance of a direct order. I reached for a hand towel, meaning to mop up the miniature mess. Doing so, I espied the trashcan’s vacuity and had a Doctor House moment: Why would unwashed hands need drying? Instead, I dried the sink well with my wife beater’s hem.

I surrendered the cup to the Samoan, who sealed and signed it. My plan had gone off without a hitch, or so it seemed. On receiving it, Maui scrutinized the specimen cup like a jeweler inspecting a black-market black diamond for flaws.

“This sample doesn’t look right,” he announced, “the color looks strange, like it’s been watered down.”

“Note that,” the female lab tech barked back.

“Water’s all I drink,” I driveled, suddenly teetering on trembling knees.

“I’m kidding” the Samoan barked, a Satchmo smile supplanting barren earth. “We wondered how funny you’d think it was when it happened to you.” These two Goddamned do-gooders had pranked me as punishment for the schadenfreude I’d proposed earlier.

All’s well that ends well; I started work one week later.


At the risk of being labeled a hypocrite, I’ll tell anyone who asks that drugs are a bad idea, full stop. This was not the bullet I’ve dodged because select compounds weren’t effervescing in my system.

Years ago, a mouth-breathing Highway Patrolman collared me for DUI, despite ample evidence to the contrary. By and large, barrel-chested state troopers don’t take to articulate college kids (particularly 4th Amendment conversant ones). Tempers flared, first, his, then, mine. Two breathalyzer tests proved my unequivocal sobriety. The increasingly desperate trooper then bullied me into a urinalysis, hoping that a test for illicit substances would succeed where a test for spirits had failed. Per chance, poverty had kept me uncharacteristically clean for weeks. All charges were ultimately dropped.

TabooWorkplaceTeenage yearsSecretsBad habits

About the Creator

Chris Z

My opinion column garnered more reader responses than any other contributor in the paper's 40-year run. As a stand-up comic, I performed in 16 countries & 26 states. I've written 2 one-man shows, umpteen poems, songs, essays & chronologies.

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