Friday, March 2, 2012

Drug Test Wakeup Call

When the phone rang at 9:37am I knew the caller must have the wrong number. No one ever calls me in my cabin when I'm working onboard a cruise ship. I’m the comedian. No one needs me until show time but I answered the phone anyway because that was the only way to make it stop ringing. 

"Hello, Leighann?"

"It's the Assistant Cruise Director."
"Hey, what's up?" 

"I'm sorry,” he said. “You've been randomly selected for a drug test."


He hurried on to say that the other comedian had been chosen as well as if this would somehow make it more palatable. He then said, "Security needs to see you in five minutes."  

Five minutes? That bothered me more than being asked to take a drug test. I hate to be a stereotypical girly-girl, but if you want me to be somewhere in five minutes, you need to give me a 24-hour heads up.

"Sure," I mumbled and stumbled out of bed angry with myself. Had I gotten up to go work out when my alarm went off at 7am I might have missed this madness entirely. They would have had to chase me down as I made my rounds on the outdoor track.  

I wasn't worried though. I can pass a drug test. What I may not be able to pass is a credit check. As I joke in my act: 

"I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs,  
but I will shop a bitch under the table." 

I was still miffed. No one has the right to do drugs -- unless the makers of those drugs have contributed enough money to the right political campaigns -- but it felt like yet another boot heel firmly pressed down on the throat of my already severely constricted liberty. 

I can understand testing people who work in critical areas. Handling money? Yes. Driving, flying or piloting any kind of vehicle, vessel or heavy machinery? Yes, yes and yes. Caring for children? Yes, but I can certainly see how doing so might make you develop a drug habit. Perhaps the children themselves might be willing to sell you something from their own personal prescription stash assuming, of course, they've brought enough for the whole class.

What is the value in drug testing performing artists? It would be wildly incorrect to say that all entertainers do drugs. Many of us in fact do not, but it's no secret that some believe drugs to be an integral part of their creative process. If drug testing had been common in the 80s, stand-up comedy would now be an ancient art form.

I'd never taken a drug test before, but if you've ever had to do lab work the direction is the same: pee in a cup. I've had varying degrees of success with this depending on the receptacle provided. At one time the lab at my doctor's office only gave out thin, narrow test tubes. Let's just say from a flexibility, aim, and sight-line point of view it was challenging.

As if peeing on command wasn’t degrading enough, I was told not to flush the toilet or to wash my hands. Why? It could interfere with the results of the test. So, we're no longer worrying about the Norovirus are we? That's the stomach virus that periodically breaks out on cruise ships treating sufferers to muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhea. It led to hand sanitizing stations being installed everywhere with signs reminding you to frequently wash your hands, remeniscent of a viral duck and cover. Oh well. 

This non-flushing, non-hand washing directive violated my own personal code of cleanliness. In short I felt icky. So when I saw the security officer's walkie-talkie perched on the sink I wasn't allowed to use, I took a perverse pleasure in bringing it out to him with my very unwashed hands. The look of horrified thanks on his face was well worth it. 

Yes, I know this was petty and yet it was curiously satisfying. The only thing better would have been to urinate on the walkie-talkie directly but that crosses the line between passive-aggressive and aggressive-aggressive. But I have learned a valuable lesson in all this: Don't sleep past my alarm.

Thanks for reading The Urban Erma. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean or subscribe for free on iTunes. In case you were wondering, in addition to blogging I am also a pretty good stand-up comedian. I do "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, I'd be Jazz. Want to see a show? Check out my schedule at @


Mindi Y said...

Hilarious as usual!

Sean said...

Bill Hicks would have used supplying the sample as part of his routine.

Tasha Boone said...

Haha! That was quite a wakeup call for you! Good thing it was only a urine drug test and not the hair follicle drug test, which is quite hard to pass. Since you’re working on a cruise ship, I think it is ideally mandatory for you to take a drug test. Not that you’re suspiciously taking drugs, but for some good reason, to ensure that you’re free of any drugs that might hinder you from working efficiently. @ Employee Screening Services

Leighann Lord said...

Hi Tara, there are those who would argue (I am not among them) that drugs make them work more efficiently. Certainly the folks at Pfizer think so.