To Test or Not To Test

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

Even
before I read about the
massive education campaign in the government schools
to examine
bodily fluids, I knew that things had changed since I wore a cheerleader,
band, and fifty million or so other hats at my Wilkes County government
high school. A friend, who grew up with me, has her child in a neighboring
North Carolina county high school. She and her A-student daughter
have signed away the daughter's right to the privacy of her bodily
fluid so that she can be a cheerleader, and fifty million or so
other high school things, all of which we've been told are so important
to our development as good citizens.

Mind
you, my friend's daughter hasn't been tested yet, but the random
threat is there. And from the high school scuttlebutt that I've
been privy to, it's the ones who are the smartest, most dedicated,
and least likely to mess with illegal drugs who are tested.  By
the way, does anyone believe the random part? Does anyone really
expect them to pull names out of a hat? It's probably only a matter
of time for my friend's child, not that she has time to use drugs,
with all her extracurricular activities. Nonetheless, the sword
of drug-testing Damocles dangles over her golden locks.

I
was so impressed by this supposed improvement to Leviathan's indoctrination
system that I decided to sit this one out with my own children.
If I can help it, they will not be going to government school; nor
will they be subjected to having their bodily fluid examined for
illegal substances. Perhaps I should be concerned about what's
in my children's urine, but the government has no reason to be.
Despite lame excuses to the contrary, the government has no business
checking out my children's body fluids.

But
what about me?  I was recently asked to work on a technical
writing and editing job. I negotiated a flexible schedule so that
I could work at home (read: at night and in the early morning hours,
while everyone else is asleep). It was a writing job working with
engineers. I like working with engineers, so much so that I married
one, although now he is disguised as a technical writer himself.
 Just before I received the offer, however, the recruiter told
me he'd forgotten to say one thing — the company required a drug
test. I've told them that I don't want to take it.

The
recruiter sent me all the documents to fill out, the tax stuff,
the stuff that says I'm a native American citizen, as if my Southern
accent never gives that away, and other stuff, including
a "Drug Free Workplace" form that I must sign, promising
that I will not "illegally engage in the manufacture, distribution,
dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance while
at the workplace." I’ve gladly signed that document.

Let's
face it, folks: If I were selling, or even taking drugs, legal or
illegal, I sure wouldn't be planning to be 20 miles from my home
every morning at 7:30 a.m. to meet with the project manager and
the systems engineer. If I were selling drugs, well, I wouldn't
be looking for a job, would I? Unless it was a cover. But really,
I don't have the time to cover for selling drugs. I've got
three sons under five; my husband and I barely had time to have
champagne for our wedding anniversary this week. Why does anyone
need to examine my bodily fluid?

Not
that I particularly mind giving bodily fluids for a good cause.
Last fall, I ended a little over nine months of pregnancy with the
birth of an 11 lb. 1 oz. son; that included nine months of giving
a urine sample each time I went to the doctor, to check for protein.
This test, I didn't mind. If there had been a significant amount
of protein in my urine, then the doctor would have known that something
was wrong; he could have examined things further. It made sense
for me and for my baby-to-be; and I took it voluntarily.  When
my two older children asked me about it, I told them exactly why
mommy had to pee into a cup.

I
don't know what I would tell my children if I had to take them to
the drug "screen," as the recruiter so euphemistically
called it. I imagine this conversation with my four-year-old:

Well, mommy
has to pee into a cup

Because you're
pregnant?

No, not this
time. Now, it’s because, well, because someone wants to hire me.

You're going
to work as a person who pees in a cup?

Well, no,
I'm going to write.

But mommy,
you write already. Why do you need to pee in a cup to do that?

They want
to make sure I'm not using illegal drugs.

What are
illegal drugs, mommy?

They're
drugs that aren't approved by pharmaceutical companies and Brooke
Shields.

The
logic of a four-year-old can be so much better than that of major
corporations. How can I explain this drug test in a way that makes
any sense to my child? Trying to explain the inane may indeed be
why people lie to their children. At this point, I can't help but
think of a wonderful man who responded to one of my articles by
saying, "You're raising freedom-loving sons." Great! But
do freedom-loving sons have a mommy who allows corporate America
to search her body?

I
could do the where does it stop argument at this point. And
where does it stop? But I'll just leave that for you to ponder and
I'll say that my husband was subjected to a drug test in his position
with a U.S. Navy contractor. He filled me in on the Navy's attitude
toward drug-testing. Because he was a civilian, he was allowed privacy
to pee into his cup. Navy personnel – officers and enlisted
– were not allowed this privacy. What this means is that if
you're in the armed services, someone watches you pee.

What
you do in your own private time should be your business, but I can
tell you that whenever I've been in the bathroom with a friend,
we've had this sort of unspoken deal where you don't watch
each other pee. My four-year-old has become very private when it
comes to ridding his body of wastes and I completely respect that.
My thinking is that a little boy who wants a bit of privacy now
and then may be better prepared to handle anyone he meets later
on who wants to invade that privacy.

So
that's my position on trying to raise some freedom-loving children:
I don't think freedom-loving children, or adults, should have their
urine checked just to see what's in it, whether by the government
or by a corporation. But looking more deeply, the absurdity of this
whole drug-testing thing is so clear. I'm guessing that the government
schools are doing such a fabulous job of dumbing us down and of
making us think that extracurricular activities are more important
than freedom that most people don't even bother to question such
an intrusion.

Thinking
this one through, however, I see that the arguments that I thought
were bogus in college are still bogus. I'm shocked that more people
don't see through them. For one thing, just because you test negative
today doesn't mean that you will tomorrow. One day after having
a completely negative test, you can use as many drugs as possible.
So much for the drug-free workplace in that scenario. Another thing
is that the more dangerous illegal drugs are the ones that stay
in one's system for the least amount of time. Marijuana, for example,
can stay in there for a couple of months; cocaine, for a couple
of days. And so, the test allows those who use more dangerous drugs
to more easily defraud the test.

And
of course, there's the big obvious point: Shouldn't workers be judged
on what they can do instead of what's in their body? If someone
has a drug problem, it will show up in their work and that person
can be fired.

And
what about the false positive? Companies use the most inexpensive
tests possible and false positives happen; let's say they're 99%
accurate, an estimate that I read. That sounds very good, but I
think about it this way: That's the same failure rate as the pill
supposedly has and yet I know at least two people who've gotten
pregnant while on the pill, which brings me to another point: human
failure. An acquaintance I met while in college worked at one of
those major drug testing facilities — and she smoked marijuana!

Supposedly,
a false positive can lead to another, more accurate test, but how's
that going to figure into a mom's life? If you don't know that a
Leviathan-sponsored child protection agency can receive an anonymous
call about you, and your child can be taken away pretty quickly
thereafter, you're living in the last century, and in the early
part of it. That 1% chance of false positive can turn into a phone
call to Leviathan from a drug tester, and a visit from a social
worker. Easily. If you think I'm being paranoid, read
this page
.

I
could go on and on, but I think I've given you enough to ponder
here. Only when good and hard-working people stop succumbing to
the silly and useless drug tests of the government and corporate
world will employers stop asking us to submit to these tests. They
have every right to ask us to acquiesce to their bodily fluid check;
we have every right to refuse.

At
this point, I don't know what the employer's going to decide. Two
different recruiters had called me about this position and this
company needs someone with my excellent technical writing and editing
skills, and soon. We certainly need the money that this job would
bring in, but even more, we need to teach our children about true
freedom. It may be that this company loses out on someone who could
help them have wonderfully-written technical documents, merely because
they want my urine. If they want to do business with me, they need
to accept the fact that when it comes to a drug test, I'll just
say no.

October
18, 2005

North
Carolina State University graduate Tricia Shore [send
her mail
] is happy with her momly life. Discuss this article
at http://www.livejournal.com/users/comic_mom/.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts