Ever have a challenge peeing in a cup? How about peeing in a cup while chaperoned and surrounded by mirrors?
For three days in a row, I've had the pleasure of attempting to pee in a cup. One of the lingering effects of my severe manic episode from last year is two years of probation for a DWAI conviction. In May of 2014 I was pulled over for speeding and charged with a DWAI. In May of 2015 I finally met my probation officer, with whom I’ll be well acquainted for the next 24 months. The wheels of justice turn slowly.
My initial meeting with my probation officer went well. I commented on the fact that she has her own vacuum cleaner in her office and we shared a chuckle. Things seemed to go well. We seemed to get off on a good foot. The next day it all went to hell.
On day two we get to meet the friendly folks at RMOMS (Rocky Mountain Offender Management Systems) for my initial intake drug test. They’re on the 3rd floor of a somewhat run-down office building in Aurora. The elevator opens into a waiting room with three rows of chairs, every seat cracked and worn. The room is small and dark. The inspirational poster on the wall is obscured by the fake palm tree which hasn’t been dusted in years. There are apparently several services available here, as there are three different sign-in sheets. Appropriately, the urinalysis sign-in sheet is yellow.
Here’s where it starts to get rocky. Once you’re signed in, you wait. The waiting room is crowded and loud. Everyone seems to be averting their eyes from everyone else. When your name is called, you’re accompanied into the restroom where you’re told to wash your hands with water only, then pull your pants and underwear down below your butt and pull your shirt up over your belly button. The man that has accompanied you to the restroom is visible to you in one of the many mirrors that surround the stall and toilet. The mirrors ensure that you can see your shame from every angle. The mirrors are probably there so they can see if you try to put anything into your sample cup. Unfortunately the mirrors help me to not be able to put anything in the cup.
I've been pee shy for my entire life. Add to that the near panic attack anxiety I'm feeling at being in this awkward place and position, and though I had to pee so bad it hurt, I couldn't have peed if the man had held a gun to my head. You’re given a minute to pee, and if you can’t do it, you’re told you can go to the end of the queue and try again. You’re allowed 2 retries, and then you have to leave. Want a good way to feel like a loser? Be accompanied by a grown man into a restroom to pee in a cup while looking in a mirror, fail to pee three times, then leave the office after two and a half hours in a full blown panic attack.
Okay, focus. First thing’s first. You were required to do an intake UA drug screen. You failed. What do you do? As soon as I calmed down enough to do so, I called my probation officer. Voicemail. Okay, I can at least leave a voicemail that I tried. “We’re sorry, the mailbox belonging to E***** H***** is full.” Fuck.
I am a people pleaser by nature, and right now the people that I need to please is my probation officer, so imagine how delighted I was to receive a voicemail the next morning that I was in violation of the terms of my probation for not showing up for my drug test. I was there. I just couldn't pee. Apparently though, if you don't pee, there's no real record of you having been there.
I called back immediately to tell my PO that I had been there and that it was an intense, anxiety inducing situation. I'm not sure she believed me. I asked if there was any possibility of taking a blood test or hair follicle test instead of a monitored UA. All I was told was to go back and try again.
I had to get over the hurdle in my brain that wouldn't let me pee in a cup. I armed myself with 20 ounces of coffee followed by four and a half bottles of water. I'd had so much water I was about to throw up. I had to pee so bad I could hardly walk, but when called into the restroom by the pee chaperone, I couldn't pee. I was starting to panic. I went downstairs and smoked a cigarette, all the time thinking that I'm going to end up in jail because I can't pee in a cup. Ridiculous. I returned again to the waiting room and put my name at the end of the queue.
This time when my name was called, I put my headphones in my ears and turned the sound way up. The man handed me the cup. I closed my eyes and listened intently to the words being said in my headphones. I have no idea what was actually being said, I just know that I listened hard to the words. Suddenly I was free. Hallelujah, I peed in a cup!
Every morning I have to call a number and enter an ID. The automated system tells you whether or not you are required to take a drug test that day. Guess how excited I was when the very next day, I called the number and the woman's curt voice says, "You are required to test today." Oh good grief! Three days in a row I have to stand there, surrounded by mirrors while someone watches me try to pee. I hate this. This is by far one of the worst consequences of the manic episode that changed my life.
Perhaps with practice, and I'm sure to get a lot of it, I'll be able to pee on command in front of a stranger. I just hope that I can manage not to have panic attacks every time I hear the words, "you are required to test today."