When you hear that somebody has passed a drug test, you probably assume the person is drug-free. It’s a reasonable assumption–the testing is scientific, impartial and totally reliable. I used to think so, anyway, until a time came when I had to take a drug test.
Technically, I didn’t really have to be tested, but my lawyer (and while it’s true that I’ve started in the middle here, I trust you’re more than capable of filling in the important elements of the backstory for yourself) thought it would be a real good idea for me to be tested to show the court that I was drug-free.
I smiled patiently at him, like a father who’s just been asked a silly, but heartwarming question by his four-year-old child. “You know I’m gonna fail that test, right?”
His smile never wavered. “Call these people,” he said. He handed me a card for Pee-Testers International (the actual name of the company is being withheld in recognition of the great service they performed on my behalf).
Following his advice, I scheduled an appointment, and was somewhat buoyed that Pee-Tester International’s receptionist seemed to be on very friendly terms with my lawyer. Still, I was taking no chances, and procured some synthetic urine (yes, they really make that) to use in place of my own THC-infused urine. The specimen must be body temperature at the time of the testing, and since a buddy¹ of mine lived close to the testing center, I went there to heat my urine in his microwave and smoke bowls until the time of the appointment.
There were all kinds of wretched fuckers haunting the reception room when I got to PTI; I felt very out-of-place. It started to dawn on me then that PTI served two functions: primarily it was a legitimate (and accredited) testing service, monitoring the rehabilitation of parolees and drug offenders. But a smaller, unadvertised portion of its business seems to have been helping those who could afford it to beat drug tests for marijuana, which was illegal in Washington State until only a few months ago.
I had to wait a short while in the lobby, which made me nervous. The container of synthetic piss nestled in my crotch was still pleasantly warm, but was cooling with each passing second. I read a book while I waited. I did a good job of centering myself and holding my anxieties in check, but I was still relieved when they called my name. The practice, the preparation, the worrying–those things were in the past: we had gone live, and it felt very good to be getting on with it.
The counselor I spoke with was an attractive, empathetic woman who was maybe a couple of years older than I was. She was intelligent and well-spoken, but almost stubbornly predisposed–in spite of all evidence to the contrary–to see me as blameless. The only other person in my life to have made such a deliberate and herculean effort to so completely blind herself to my faults was my own mother.
“How often do you smoke marijuana?” she asked.
“Hmm,” I said, considering the question. “I don’t know–maybe six or seven times a year.”
“So not very often.”
“Hardly.” We both laughed.
“And when was the last time you used marijuana?”
“Oh, gosh,² let’s see…I think maybe last Christmas Eve.” This was mid-June. I’d anticipated this question, and had given it a great deal of thought in the previous days, as I had my response to it. It was a risky move, but I knew exactly the follow-up question it would generate. Most critically, I knew that my answer to that question would likely have a significant impact on the outcome of this evaluation.
Her expression darkened, and took on a puzzled aspect. “But…you were cited for possessing marijuana just two weeks ago.”
I executed my line flawlessly. I laughed a little sheepishly and said of the incident earlier in the month, “Oh, I had every intention of smoking that pot,” I said, ”But I never got a chance!”
It was clear from the first that my gambit had been successful. Her face lit up and she laughed along with me. I saw that not only did she believe me (or had chosen to believe me, which amounts to the same thing), but that she appreciated my answer, like I was making her job a lot easier by telling her what I was supposed to.
But her final question caught me off-guard: “If I gave you a urine test right now, would you pass?”
I hadn’t anticipated that, and it took some effort to keep myself from showing my cards in that age-old liar’s tell of repeating the question back to her: Would I pass a urine test? With so much on the line, though, I managed. I looked her in the eye and said, “Absolutely.”
Her conspiratorial smile was endearing. “I guess we don’t need to test you, then.”
It cost something like $450, plus another $20 for the fake pee I never used (and it’s really not something I wanted to keep around, y’know?), which was an expense I could ill-afford. Still, it was money well-spent, not least for the boost to my self-image which is with me to this day. When I look in the mirror every morning, I can be proud that the face I see looking back at me is 100% drug-free. Don’t believe me? I’ve got the test results to prove it.