Due to the economy, I was forced to look for part-time employment. This proved to be more difficult than I first imagined because, at least in N.C., the number of applicants had risen for almost every opening I could find.
After numerous applications, I finally landed an interview with a national “big box” store. The interview was conducted by a man who was young enough to be my son, or at least a student I taught years ago. Many times I had seen a face that could have been his in front of me. A feeling of authority had gripped me during those experiences. I liked being in control of that student’s educational destiny, of knowing that with a simple stroke of my red pen I could determine his scholastic future. Well, all I could do was allow him to repeat the assignment and at worst taken half a letter grade off.
Hey, in my 20’s, that was powerful mojo.
My, how times had changed; I had left teaching to pursue bigger and better things, and now I was on the other side of the desk trying to impress the young manager with my wit, my wisdom and my availability to work nights and weekends. I’m not sure which of those factors worked, but I was hired on the spot. Everything was smooth sailing until he uttered the words, “But first you’ll have to take a test.”
“A test,” I thought. “What cruel twist of fate is this?”
It was a drug test. I quickly realized that though I could not study for it, I certainly could prepare in advance.
In fact, preparing was recommended.
Thus, in less than 24 hours, I found myself waiting in the offices of a lab facility. I was tanked up, having consumed two cups of coffee and four glasses of water, and ready to get the experience over with. I knew that I could not wait long and the closer I got to the office the more difficult it became to hold back the tide. Fortunately, the waiting area was empty and the attendant told me she would be right with me after “discharging the previous patient.”
I thought that if she doesn’t hurry up, she’ll have another “discharge” to attend to in the lobby.
Needless to say, with my increasing discomfort grew a greater impatience.
After what seemed like hours, but was probably only a minute, a mother and son walked out from the back and left. The receptionist sat at her computer, took my papers, and entered the information. The computer must have sensed that I was about to explode because it promptly lost the information the woman had just typed. Undeterred, she re-entered the half page, but decided things would be better if she used the hunt-and-peck method of typing.
At this point I couldn’t stand still. I thought, “How long does it take to enter a name, and address, a phone number, and the word ‘urinalysis? Tolstoy probably took less time on War and Peace.”
I knew that crossing my legs would be obvious and jumping up and down might have unintended consequences, so I began walking around the room to study the hanging ‘artwork.’ I returned to the sliding window when I heard her finish entering the information. The end, or rather the toilet, was near!
Then the phone rang; not the business phone, but her cell phone. It must have been an emergency because she answered it immediately. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t an emergency; it was her best friend calling to give a detailed plan of her upcoming vacation.
I had to move again, or there was going to be a real emergency in the lobby. “Clean up underneath the impressionist reprint…”
Mere wandering wasn’t working, so I started jogging laps around the room.
I lost count of how many “Girl, you know” and “That’s right” I heard. Had she been paying attention, she probably would have lost count of how many times I passed her counter.
Too bad it wasn’t a hot day. I am sure I created a cool breeze with each pass.
Finally, the conversation ended. I was given a cup and sent to the bathroom.
When finished, I eagerly turned in my assignment. I felt the relief all test-takers experience upon the completion of a difficult exam. I wasn’t worried, I knew I passed.
I was glad it was over, and the next time I have a drug test, I won’t come so prepared.