Drug testing just another fact of life

By Grant McGee: Local Columnist

The National Football League’s draft is this weekend. The media has already been abuzz about some of the draft prospects testing positive for something they weren’t supposed to be ingesting. And then there were the baseball players in a congressional hearing concerning testing for steroids a few weeks back.

Drug testing is news again.

I’ve had a few drug tests in my time.

My first drug test was for a heavy equipment operator’s job in Albuquerque.

This was about 16 years ago, and back then there had been stories about this or that making the results positive for something in your system that shouldn’t be there.

In I went for my test. When I joked that I’d been studying real hard I was greeted with a cold, blank stare from the medical center nurse.

I caused a little stir the next day at work, what with it being my first drug test and all. And also being the kind of guy known for speaking before I think.

“Did I pass my drug test?” I asked Jim, the foreman.

All the other guys turned to give me a stare.

“Why,” said Brad, “do you take drugs?” Brad was the youngest guy on the crew. In the short time I knew him he made it clear that he knew much, including America was on a downhill slide and the media was to blame.

“No,” I said, “it’s just that I’ve heard stories about drug tests getting fouled up.”

“That’s just something made up by the media,” Brad said.
“If you tested positive,” Jim said, “we’d talk to you privately before the shift and send you home.”

“Besides, if you test positive, it means you use drugs. Period,” Brad proclaimed.

My next encounter with a drug test was when I went truck driving. Before they’d train you, one would be administered.

I wasn’t living in Clovis at the time so I can tell you I lived next door to this couple who smoked marijuana. Frequently, as I’d be drifting off to sleep with the window open, that fragrance would waft in.

The night before I was to go off to truck-driving school, they came over with a nice steak dinner for me. There was a ribeye, green beans and macaroni and cheese. There was a green garnish. I took the plate from them, studied the green stuff and pondered how to word the next thing that came out of my mouth without being rude.

“Ahh, this garnish, this isn’t marijuana, is it?” I smiled. “I have to take a drug test.”

“No, it’s parsley.”

At truck-driving school, when I told the nurse I’d studied real hard for my drug test she asked if I had any idea how many times a day she heard that. I shut my mouth.

It turns out drug tests can detect more than drugs. This particular test showed I needed to see a doctor for an apparent kidney problem.

Once truck driving, my partner had to take off because his mom passed away. Upon his return we were sent off as a team for drug testing. That time, I just didn’t say anything about studying for my test.

Some folks get a bit wound up about drug testing. I just chalk it up as another fact of life here in the early 21st century.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: blisscreeksw@yahoo.com