View from the cop: Drug-test tales

One of the more enjoyable aspects of crushing crime is the anticipation and participation in drug screening tests to determine that your behavior is not altered by chemicals, alcohol, or second hand smoke from a recent Allman Brothers concert.

In other words, they prefer you go wacky all naturally—which is fine, and surprisingly easy to do.

My Uncle Dewey spent so many years drinking that we accepted this as his natural state. He finally quit drinking after his last arrest where he showed up at his probation office in the stolen nun’s habit, reeking of Prince Ivan Vodka, and carrying a chicken. In sobriety, he intended to and expected to fit in with normal people but normal to him was the Moose Lodge at 2 a.m.—or Wal-Mart on Saturday mornings.

In our business, a good quality is to be systematically unsystematic. No patterns and hopefully a minimum of predictable habits. Patrol officers should not do the same things day after day and so on. Drug testing is designed to be unsystematic as well.

The computer supposedly picks a random number of officers to be tested each month. They want officers to be in that percentile of what they perceive as normal. If they’re not, they want to know if or not their behavior is artificially induced. That may explain why I was “randomly” picked every two weeks.

Here’s how it went:

I get a call from the Internal Affairs guy who said I need to go see the drug test guy sometime that day. The Internal Affairs guy makes a sort-of joke about how I shouldn’t do crack today. I offer a small courtesy laugh and let the following awkward silence spoke for itself.

An hour later I arrive at the place and meet the drug testing guy offering a small joke about how I would have been there sooner but I stopped to drink a gallon of some weird Chinese tea to flush out my system. He doesn’t even offer a courtesy laugh. The awkward silence again spoke for itself.

He began the questions. They were, and he was, quickly irritating to me.

“Okay Mr. Rose, are you taking any medications?”

“Uh, yes, Flomax.”

“Flomax?”

“Yes, Flomax, you know, for that prostate thing.”

He looks at me like he’s trying to decide if I’m lying—the same look the polygraphers give you when they ask you questions like “Are you human?”

The drug test guy keeps giving me the look like he’s on to me.

“Okay……Flomax? Okay, do you have a prescription for that?”

(What?) “No, I’m buying it on the street from the members of the International Flomax Cartel. My symptoms must be giving me away. I urinate at suspiciously regular intervals and hang around guys who appear to be over 50 who also are not frequently urinating while taking long and happy canoe trips. Was it that or the consistent complaining about the side effects?”

At that very moment, it occurred to me that I needed not to make enemies with the guy in charge of my drug test under the same theory that one should never make a big deal of food that isn’t cooked just right and demand it be returned to the kitchen until it’s done right.

“Here’s your pork chop sir, sorry for the problem and thank you for yelling at me in front of the other customers. How’s that pork chop now?”

“Fine I guess. Say, does anyone else smell cow poop?”

I quickly dropped my sarcastic attitude and thusly the plan to leave my hands slightly wet after washing them and then shaking the drug test guy’s hand on the way out—something that I assumed was their greatest fear.

Nope, I was going in the direction of sucking up to the drug-test guy, not because there was anything in that specimen but rather my hope that my results would not contain the product of revenge courtesy of that drug-test guy, who maybe should be on the testing schedule himself—I don’t know…I was getting more and more paranoid by the moment.

The last thing I needed was to get called into the Chief’s office with the conversation starting off with, “Okay Steve, can you explain the presence of plutonium in your urine?”

“Plutonium? Isn’t that nuclear stuff?”

“Yes, and quite frankly, we’re a little concerned.”

Nope, more than anything, I wanted this guy to like me.

Well, it turned out it was all for nothing. Who cares of the drug test guy is a little eccentric? Why should that irritate me?

Meeting me for the first time is an eccentric experience for normal people. No, I was fine, my urine was fine, my prostate was the right size, (although I was still complaining about the side effects to my prostate support group,) and there wasn’t a hint of plutonium to be found.

Even so, I felt bad about how awkward I made the experience so when the drug-test guy called me later to thank me for the new ShamWow he received in the mail, I finally felt warm and fuzzy—which, now that I think about it, is a symptom of plutonium digestion.

23 comments Add your comment

MattyB

March 5th, 2009
7:26 pm

Slow week in Sandy Springs, eh Rose?

noel elliott

March 5th, 2009
8:18 pm

steve, you are a funny guy. Do you have lots of friends at work, or do they think you’re a bore?

Janine

March 5th, 2009
8:43 pm

I hope you have better things to do than blogging. We’re not giving you our tax dollars to do this.

Ross

March 5th, 2009
9:48 pm

Un-Constitutional searches and seizures by police are just a riot! I’ll bet ol’ TJ would have been rolling on the floor – like he’s doing in his grave.

-drl

Fred

March 5th, 2009
9:50 pm

Dear Janine,

You are an ass. Perhaps a WHOLE ass which would make an……. I see if YOU can figure the rest out…….

Why do asses like yourself think that because a person works for the Gov’t that EVERY HOUR of their life somehow belongs to the Gov’t IE: you a taxpayer? Ever stop and think that maybe the AJC pays Steve for the time he spends AFTER WORK to write this little blog?

But in short, we are NOT giving our tax dollars for him to “do this.” We are giving him our tax dollars to look at an ass such as yourself, smile and be polite when he wants to tell you what an ass you are.

ezrider

March 5th, 2009
11:15 pm

Nice story, nice to see something which shows some humor. A little smile once in a while is good for the soul. I don’t care what others say. Thanks for this humorous story.

TSPEC

March 5th, 2009
11:23 pm

Janine you can leave at any time, the only reasons I check the ajc.com are the Falcons and Officer Rose!!!!!!!!!!!

If you new anything you would know that the man does have days and time off! Get a life and leave us alone!

Huckleberry

March 5th, 2009
11:32 pm

Fred, you’re an blathering idiot. You want the public job, you’re held to the higher standard. Period. That’s the way it is for all of us at the local, state, and federal levels, and most of us are quite aware of it every day. It keeps us from doing things like sending emails as dumb as your posting, for example. By the way, the caps key is to the left of the keyboard, turn it off sometime..your blood pressure will go down.

Jane

March 5th, 2009
11:44 pm

How much money are we wasting yearly on shaking down productive citizens to prove that they are not doing drugs on their personal time? How many careers have been unnecessarily destroyed? How much money was wasted during prohibition ensuring that productive citizens didn’t have a glass of wine or a beer on their personal time? The drug cartels in Mexico that we get to read about in the news are there because our society is funding their payrolls from the ridiculous “war on drugs” policies that have failed for decades and we refuse to admit the direct comparison to the years of alcohol prohibition that also failed. Funny, that after prohibition was over everyone didn’t rush to become a drunkard but the government today would have you believe that if drugs were legalized we would all immediately indulge to the point of overdosing or becoming addicts. Funny but I’m not laughing.

Ross

March 6th, 2009
12:07 am

Jane, I agree with you 100 percent! It always amazes me to see the fools who so blithely throw away their freedom, who understand neither their country’s history nor even their fundamental rights. I wish Jefferson and Washington were here to see the travesty we’ve made of our country! When will these fools begin to connect the dots? Never I’m afraid!

-drl

gadyke

March 6th, 2009
9:23 am

Janine: Get a life. The man can write in his free time. We don’t own him.

Huckleberry: I could understand your final comment to Fred if his post had been in all caps, but he merely capitalized some points in his comment to place emphasis on them. I also completely disagree with your assesment of Steve’s public position. He’s not an elected official. He’s a peace officer who writes an entertaining and sometimes informative blog in his off hours.

Tom T

March 6th, 2009
12:39 pm

Jane and Ross, relax and have another toke.

Chris Broe

March 6th, 2009
12:43 pm

A minor masterpiece filled with surprises. The voice was perfect, the rhythm flawless. Greatness!

Cubby

March 6th, 2009
1:27 pm

I’ll tell you what’s a damn travesty.

No more dodge ball in school.

No more keeping score in little league games.

Now those ladies and gentleman are what’s destroying this country.

Lee

March 7th, 2009
5:33 pm

“…it occurred to me that I needed not to make enemies with the guy in charge of my drug test under the same theory that one should never make a big deal of food that isn’t cooked just right and demand it be returned to the kitchen until it’s done right.”

Sage advice, my friend. Never piss off someone who can make your life a living hell. Which is why most of us shuffle along and mumble “Yes dear.”

I would like to ask a question, though. How come the only people they seem to drug test is us middle aged white guys with no life. What about that purple haired freak who looks like he was hit in the face with a tackle box, what with all those piercings and all. How come he never gets tested. What’s up with that?

Chris Broe

March 7th, 2009
7:00 pm

They do go by looks when they chose a schmoe to drug test. But their criteria is how closely the suspect resembles Barney Rubble. Look at Steve’s Rose’s latest icon-photo thing. Look at his hair! Look at his shirt!

PinkoNeoConLibertarian

March 9th, 2009
10:57 am

Actually, my standard “joke” is more along the lines of I wish they’d given me more time to study. Fortunately I only get tested a couple of “random” times a year. :)

The truth about cops

March 10th, 2009
12:59 am

If this guy’s trying-to-hard, wannabe Grizzardy articles were as funny as he thinks they are, this Cleveland steamer of a post would draw more than a pathetic 17 comments.

There should be a lot more accountabitly for these over-weight government cash generators. More than a random drug test- perhaps they should be held accountable for tailgating, speeding, running red lights and issuing false tickets to innocent drivers?

Nah, just keep pretending like this is what our founding fathers had in mind: a communist police state. Hope you dolts enjoy the 4th!

gadyke

March 10th, 2009
1:07 pm

Truth – Once again you lump all law enforcement officers with the few who abuse their positions. Get over it and yourself. I’ll keep enjoying the posts and hope some of the old voices come back to the comments.

ElBubba

March 10th, 2009
6:52 pm

Fred I see you’re the same jerk you’ve always been, hurling insults, acting superior with your tenth grade education. What a fraud.

hannah

March 20th, 2009
6:54 am

you know, where i work, i have to hear the same corny joke a million times a day from people who think they’re the only ones to ever think of it, and expect a courtesy laugh…i’ve made a game of seeing how many seconds i can give them an unamused, blank stare before they realize i obviously didn’t hear them, and repeat their joke.

generally, three.

KenG

March 21st, 2009
12:15 pm

What’s up with all the hatin’ on Lt. Steve? He’s a good guy in the neighborhood, subject to drug tests, serves us well while trying to find some humor in the situation… I’ve been busted by the damn red light camera on Holcomb Bridge, and the SSPD for tag problems. But Lt. Steve and the SSPD are the good guys stuck with a certain system. I hope he keeps bloggin’.

Dave

April 22nd, 2009
6:03 pm

Janine

wow, are you bored or a real buzz kill??