I'd Wash My Hands of Drug Testing

  I'd Wash My Hands of Drug Testing

Posted by CN Staff on November 17, 2002 at 14:42:59 PT
Sections: Bay Area Living  
Source: Oakland Tribune  

If NBC drug-tested all of its employees, Aaron Sorkin would have flunked. But who needs ``The West Wing'' anyway? Bring on ``The Bachelor'' re-runs. Sorkin wasn't tested because nobody tests a superstar, and he went on to make one of the best TV series of all time. But shouldn't we be more concerned if someone in a position of power has used drugs than one of us grunts? ``We had to test a bunch of people for (a local burger chain), and of the 20 kids we tested, guess how many passed?'' asks Yolanda Wilkerson, a licensed vocational nurse for Kaiser Permanente. 
My guess is 15. ``None,'' she says. ``Zero." Makes you question whether a city kid who does what his role models in sports and entertainment do - i.e., smoke a joint on occasion - is really incapable of showing up on time and flipping burgers. And if a teenager can't get as simple and low-paid a job as that, why are we surprised when he ends up on the corner helping other people flunk their own drug tests? Drug testing is an ever-greater issue these days, as schools across the nation, including Dublin High School, consider testing students involved in extra-curricular activities. The issue hit home when I was informed I had to undergo a drug screening as a condition of my ``change in employment status'' at the newspaper. I'm a known quantity after five years of writing for ANG's various papers, so from the start, a drug test felt like an unnecessary invasion of privacy. But if you complain about having to take a drug test, of course, people think you're a druggie, so I tried to keep my mouth shut. Ever since I passed the test, though, I haven't stopped yapping. It's not that I can't see why companies test new hires. Junkies and crack-heads aren't likely to be productive in the long-term, and people who will be driving ambulances, operating heavy machinery or doing a highly skilled activity, such as air-traffic control, ought to be clean. But in the case of the average employee at McDonald's, or a newspaper for that matter, a drug test is a vaguely demeaning and thoroughly irrelevant physical intrusion that even wracks the nerves of people who have never gotten high in their lives. Prospective employees, as well as high-school students, ought be measured by their record and performance. Unfortunately, high-minded (pardon the pun) principles don't put food on my plate, so on a weekday afternoon I trundled over to Kaiser's Occupational Health building in Oakland to get tested for cocaine, marijuana, PCP, amphetamines and heroin. Licensed vocational nurse Gwen Williams watched me closely as she sent me into a bathroom to pee in a cup. The rules: No flushing the toilet, which was filled with blue water; no using the sink, which was cordoned off with yellow protective tape; and if I wanted to wash my hands (clearly an imperative after such a non-precision operation) I would have do it back in the exam room. Once I completed my task, Williams snapped on latex gloves, took the cup from me and checked the thermometer strip on its side. Mine measured in the low 90s, and she nodded approval; apparently nurses don't appreciate being given refrigerated or room-temperature urine. As we filled out paperwork I asked about strategies people use to beat the tests, and the nurses revealed three. First is ``fluid overload,'' which means drinking so much water beforehand that one's urine sample is clear. While that can effectively eliminate toxins, it arouses suspicions. ``If you get a nurse who knows somebody in the company you want to work for, and they notice you cleared your urine, that can be trouble,'' Williams says. The second strategy is to bring in somebody else's urine. Some people get a clean friend to pee in a condom, then tape it to their body. (Lovely.) Others order condensed, powdered urine from the Internet, then come up with a way to mix it with warm water in the bathroom. That's why Williams checked the urine temperature and watched me so closely in the exam room. It's also why the toilet water was blue and why they had no-wash and no-flush rules. The third strategy is to use over-the-counter drinks and tablets, many of which aren't FDA-approved but are legal nonetheless. These products don't mention drug tests but instead promise to help customers meet a ``personal cleansing deadline.'' Head shops on Telegraph Avenue and Haight Street do a booming business in the drinks, which are priced from $15 to $60. With so many options available, it could be argued that drug screenings really are just measuring a person's resourcefulness and how badly they want the job, not the narcotic content of their urine. After all, if a Google search or a trip to the drug store is all it takes to beat a test, the only people who won't pass are those too lazy (or stoned) to get off the couch, those who (mistakenly) believe they're clean and those who would rather be unemployed than piss in a cup for The Man. Complete Title: I'd Wash My Hands of Drug Testing, But They Won't Let MeUndercurrents runs Tuesdays and Fridays. Source: Oakland Tribune (CA)Published: Friday, November 15, 2002Copyright: 2002 MediaNews Group, Inc. Contact: triblet Website: Drug Testing Archives

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Comment #10 posted by DdC on November 18, 2002 at 14:51:38 PT
Only mention of an author...
Undercurrents runs Tuesdays and Fridays. You can call Rory at (510) 208-6449 or send e-mail to rlaverty .
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on November 18, 2002 at 08:41:12 PT

I thought maybe he was afraid to put his first and last name in the article but he had his first name and phone number and email. That's what confused me. If a person is afraid why would they put their phone number. That's what baffled me.PS: The news is always very slow after elections. I'll keep looking but so far I haven't found any more articles to post. I actually appreciate the news being slow because I can get work done around home that I have been neglecting. 
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Comment #8 posted by mayan on November 18, 2002 at 04:46:13 PT

Urine testing is a microcosm of the war on drugs. It is expensive,intrusive,counterproductive & utterly insane.FoM, fear of reprisal would also be my guess for the author not putting their name on this article. After the Homeland Security bill passes don't be surprised to see retribution against anyone that questions the state. There will soon be more military personel on active duty on U.S. soil than stationed around Iraq. This war will be a war on us. We must stand together and endure. The way in is the way out...Pursue the truth about 9/11: the dots: - Unanswered Questions from 9/11(QuickTime Video -parts 1-3): Thompson's Complete 9/11 Timeline: People's Investigation of 9/11:
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on November 17, 2002 at 22:20:16 PT

Doonesbury Medical Marijuana Political Cartoon
Hi everyone,I wasn't sure if you all saw this today so I'm reposting it just in case those who want to see it get too.
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Comment #6 posted by lookinside on November 17, 2002 at 20:22:24 PT

A friend's son...
Has a nice second income providing "clean" urine. $50 a squirt.
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Comment #5 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on November 17, 2002 at 19:16:29 PT

Steal This Urine Test
The whole urine-for-sale industry wouldn't exist if not for the drug war. There's really a black market for wee-wee now? Our government has driven us to such lengths. I had a friend who swore by Goldenseal root extract pills. There's also a great show on Pot-TV (see the link below) where somebody actually tests one of the urine cleansers. And it works! If Al Gore and G.W. didn't have to take the test, why do the rest of us?
Blunt: P155 Test
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on November 17, 2002 at 18:08:18 PT

Yes I am. I'm not kidding. I wasn't sure about posting it for that reason. I don't understand why people don't use their name if they write unless they are afraid. I know papers do editorials with no name when it's the papers view but this one baffled me.
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Comment #3 posted by gloovins on November 17, 2002 at 18:04:46 PT


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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 17, 2002 at 17:52:21 PT

It baffled me too. I was taught to remove phone numbers and personal emails so people who write the article aren't bothered by personal email but they never actually said it was anyone except someone named Rory. I hesitiated to put the name in since the only way I figured out his last name was by the email address that was left in the article. Very strange so I went with the cautious side and didn't put an author in and they didn't call the title what I used but this was the title and it didn't make sense or sound right.I'd WASHING My Hands of Drug Testing, But They Won't Let Me
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Comment #1 posted by gloovins on November 17, 2002 at 17:43:57 PT

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