Sunday, March 05, 2006

Analysis? Whose Analysis?

Your analysis.

Saturday morning on drill weekend, I went to my work place and finished setting up my new office, then went to track down my laptop computer. I had left it with the IT folks to configure for the Gowen Field network. After getting it back, I stopped by my company's orderly room, which is in the same building as the IT office.

I have been trying for about 18 months to get an evaluation report fixed. It was sent to me in Iraq, but no one had the program necessary to print it. I couldn't get the company clerk to send me a printable version, so I just stopped in yesterday to have her print it off. It needs to be signed and then formally filed.

As I talked to her, the company First Sergeant walked by, looked at me and said "I think you're on our list." He then went to check and returned saying, yes, I was on the list to submit to a urinalysis. This was about 0930. I told him fine (having no choice in the matter) but that I needed to prepare for the test (drinking a bunch of coffee and water).

This is pretty common because they don’t give you any warning that you get to contribute a sample, and you may have already drained the holding tank by the time you’re notified.

I went back to my office, worked on the computer, and drank liquids. Having taken what seems like a zillion piss-tests (probably a few dozen), I have learned that I want to really have to go before I try to fill the bottle.

The way the Army collects its samples is that you take off your shirt, wash your hands (to avoid contaminating the sample), and fill the bottle. The uncomfortable part is that there is a test proctor who wants to observe the action to ensure that you don’t fill the bottle with something other than your own personal warm specimen. And by observe the action, I mean the guy wants to see your equipment as you produce the sample. That’s why you have to take off your shirt; it might impede the view.

I tend to seize up and get stage fright when someone is watching me so closely. Accordingly, it helps to have a considerable pressure built up at test time. I achieved that after about an hour and a half. I returned to the orderly room at 1120, ready for action, but found that the proctors had left early for lunch so they could be back at 1300 to participate in a change of command ceremony. They wouldn’t be available until later the ceremony.

No way could I wait that long, so we decided I might just try later in the afternoon, after the ceremony, even though I would have to depressurize before then. They ended up not being available later, so I didn’t take the test. As the 1st Sgt. said, if you miss one of the “random” tests you tend to pop up on the next three or so “random” tests. So I’ve got that to look forward to.

The bright spot, for me, is that I’m not female. They have the same requirement of the eagle-eyed proctor. I suspect that their experience is probably even less pleasant than what the males endure.

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