Can’t I just pee?

It’s been a spell since I’ve written. My apologies. I quit my job last Thursday so I’ve been on the hunt again. I’ve already been lucky enough to have one interview to work at a pet supply store.

In the interview, my least favorite question came up: How much would you like to make? Ugh. I hate that question because what do they expect me to say? Obviously I would like to make more than minimum wage. I would like to make 100,000 dollars an hour with sick days paid as double overtime. So I look the store manager in the eye and tell him “Whatever you make should work for me.” Luckily, he laughed and told me that he usually starts people out at $8.50 with built in opportunities for pay raise. Eh, ok.

But then he got to a question I liked even less: Will I submit to a drug test? Urinalysis- oh no no. It’s a hair follicle sample they need. Oy vey. Now, I’m not Courtney Love, but any tests involving samples from my body always make me nervous. But I said yes and he seemed very happy. The drug tests aren’t his protocol, but corporate’s, he said. He gave me a packet and circled an address for me to head off to and that was the end of the interview.

So I’m feeling pretty good that the interview went well. But I’ve just got this drug test to get through. I arrive at the place I was told to go. 8762 E is a sketchy office space on the second floor of a building whose entryway is in an alley. Lovely. I go upstairs and the place doesn’t even look like any sort of legitimate testing center. It’s just an empty room with books and boxes all over the place. A fly keeps banging against the window, desperate and buzzy as if suicide is his only chance at leaving this abysmal place. I’m about to turn around and leave, but a large man pops up from behind one of the piles of boxes. He doesn’t even say hello, just looks at me for an explanation. “I’m here to get a drug test, for a potential employer?”

“Ok. Follow me.” His African accent, one I usually enjoy, does nothing to soften his general harshness. He leads me into a second room, cluttered and stuffy like the first. He takes out this decrepit looking yellow box filled with an asortment of metal hair clips and one devious looking pair of scissors. He uncaps a bottle of  rubbing alcohol and poors a bit onto a paper towel, which he haphazardly cleans the scissor blades and hair clips with. I keep hearing the fly banging on the wall, and I’m wondering if maybe he has the right idea. As I’m watching the man clean the blades, it occurs to me that this guy seems kind of like a serial killer and I’m thinking maybe I should run. But no, I need a damn job. It’s Saturday and no other testing centers will be open until Monday so I’ve got to do this. If they find my body here, stabbed to death by hair clips, at least they’ll know I tried.

“So what exactly does this test for?” I ask the guy, just to pierce the silence.

“Drugs,” he says. No kidding?!

I give up talking and instead look over at the sheet he is reading: directions for how to administer this test. Great, he’s apparently never done this before. The diagram shows a picture of a girl. A large chunk of her hair is missing. She and her drug test administrator are smiling in good spirits, but my eyes keep going back to the large chunk. It’s like the width of my fattest finger. Are they serious? My hair is already short. It’s been through hell in back in my lifetime: failed dye jobs, chemical burns, accidental mullets. Now I am expected to let this random dude have at it with a pair of dirty shears? For a moment I wonder if maybe I can speed dial my stylist. Maybe he can do it? But I snap myself out of it and remind myself I’ve got to man up if I ever want to get to Australia. I need this job.

So the man (whose name I still don’t know) comes around to stand behind my chair. It’s super awkward as he monkeys through my hair, looking for a place to administer the chop. Finally he starts. But instead of just cutting it feels like he’s scraping or something, and it takes him forever just to get one bit out. He does this two more times in different sections of my hair. I breathe deeply, resisting the urge to run, and finally he tells me it’s done. He fiddles with the sections of my hair, folding them up into a metal cylinder, and asks me to sign a few papers. I leave the building feeling incredibly violated, and wondering if I’m bald.

Alas, I survived my first drug test. Now just tune in for the results episode.


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