During my ongoing quest for employment in Sarasota, I was recently among a group of job applicants brought in for an orientation by a Human Resource (HR) department of a large local employer. We were there to learn about policies and to fill out forms.
We were also treated to an eight-minute film on the employer’s policies regarding alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and urine testing. The HR person announced that there was “zero tolerance” for abusers, then let the film roll.
The film depicted obviously drunk or high employees (played with abandon by terrible actors) who jeopardized the safety of themselves and others. But the message was clear: Zero Tolerance. Random urine tests would be used to screen violators, and if an employee tested positive, job termination would follow. Zero tolerance. Roll the film credits.
Now in previous blogs I’ve been hard on HR departments (see my posts at this blog from the Category “Salt Mines”), but what followed the showing of the film (with only minor embellishment) gave me sympathy for HR personnel: when the HR staffer asked the perfunctory question about whether we, (the job applicants supposedly eager to be hired), had any questions in regard to the film, several hands immediately shot up in the air.
“You have a question?”
“Yes. Like, what if I party with weed on a Friday night and then go to work on Monday and I’m tested but I’m not high?”
“Sir, as stated in the film, marijuana can stay in the system for 5 days or more. If you test positive, you will be terminated.”
“What if everyone else was smoking and I only inhaled the air?
“Yeah, how ’bout that?”
“That’s happened to me!”
Pause. More hands.
“Really? Another question?”
“The movie said something about crack cocaine, but what about blow?”
Pregnant pause, followed by clearing of the throat: “Let me be crystal clear…”
Laughter and snorts upon hearing the word “crystal.”
“Cocaine is an illegal drug in any form; test positive and you’ll lose your job immediately.”
“What if I went to one of those cleanse places and got a transfusion?”
“How much do they charge?”
“Hey, I’ve heard of those, do they work?”
“Heard they do. And there’s pills and stuff you can buy online.”
“Excuse me! We know about those treatments so don’t risk it; let me reiterate, we have a zero tolerance policy.”
“How do you make sure that the urine tested is ours?”
“Yeah! How would you know?”
“I’ve heard you can duct tape a baggy of piss to your armpit to keep it warm and ..”
“I’m not at liberty to go into details, but we know how to prevent switching of samples.”
“Oh man, does someone watch us pee?!?”
“What about my privacy?”
“Again, we know how to ensure that the sample collected is yours while also maintaining your privacy.”
Three more hands shoot up. The HR staffer looks at us with disbelief. I slowly turn to my fellow applicants and subtly give them the open hand across the throat sign to SHUT UP.
“What if I test positive for oxy? It’s not illegal, right?”
“Assuming it’s your prescription and we have it on record…”
“No, it’s my mother’s prescription but it’s good for pain.”
“Ma’am, what you’re describing is an illegal use of prescription drugs. And our policy is–”
“Word. Zero tolerance, but how about if medical marijuana becomes legal?”
“Ah huh, and it’s gonna happen.”
“People, please listen very closely, we have a: Zero. Tolerance. Policy. Period.”
“I get that, but the movie said no one can drink on the job and that a breath test could be given. So what if someone doesn’t drink it but does a beer butt gusher instead?”
“A butt gusher. You know, instead of chugging a can, you shoot it up your—“
“Enough already. It’s time to move on to the next film about our zero tolerance policies—sexual harassment.”
God help us.