Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How hard can this be?

Subject: A routine pre-employment drug screen.
(With apologies to Zinnia Hope, a wonderful writer who live in West Virginia and does NOT embody the stereotypes portrayed herein.)

My company offered “Sam” an engineering position contingent upon a successful drug screen. Trouble is, Sam lives in West “By God” Virginia, and we’re in “Thank God!” Texas.

I asked our local drug testing provider, a company operated by a very efficient lady named “Kay,” to help us arrange for a drug screen to be performed in Sam’s home town with the results transmitted to us. Kay provided the name of a urine-sample-collection outfit with the proper credentials, chain-of-custody protocols, etc., and I asked Sam to drop by the place on a Thursday to leave a sample.

All arrangements had been made.

Sam presented himself late Thursday afternoon to produce the needed sample, but was told they couldn’t accept one. Why? Well, Kay had told them what “panel” needed to be run, but the word hadn’t been passed to the collection folks. They can’t print a label for the sample unless they know which panel is needed. And they can’t accept a sample without a label, because the donor must sign the label for proper chain-of-custody proof. So, no panel = no label = no test on Thursday.

Sam called me. I could have told them what panel to run, but they wouldn’t accept the info from me. It had to come from Kay. Kay couldn’t be reached, so Sam left to return the next day. On Friday, a sample was provided. The collection folks said they would send it off to the pre-arranged lab, and the results should be available "by Tuesday . . . or Wednesday at the latest.”

Now if the sample had been provided and properly shipped off on Thursday, the results would have been available by Friday afternoon or Monday morning, but. . .

Time passed. Monday came and went. Tuesday afternoon came and Sam called me to ask if we have results yet. (No, he wasn't nervous. But he wanted to give his two weeks’ notice to his present employer, and we advised him NOT to do so until the drug test results were in.) Kay called the lab for us, but the sample results were not available yet.

By noon Wednesday we still had no news. I called Kay. About an hour later she called back. It seems that the folks in West “By God” Virginia had sent the sample to the wrong testing lab, whose technicians had no instructions concerning where to send the results. Absent that information, they elected not to run the sample at all, but to send it back. (Note: There may have been some logic in that decision somewhere, but it escapes me. Couldn’t they call? But that’s water under the bridge.) The sample was en route back to the collection point; delivery date and time unknown.

By Thursday morning the collection point had still not received the nomadic sample, so I asked Kay if she could locate a DIFFERENT testing agency who would run a saliva drug test (like we do here in Texas) because that test provides results on the spot in about 5 minutes!

Kay located a lab and provided me with a business name, address, phone number, contact name, driving directions, and assurances that, again, all details had been arranged. I passed this on to Sam, now a full week after he had first tried to be drug tested. Sam left work early to drive to this lab.

Upon arrival and identification, Sam was told that they couldn’t “do” his sample yet. Why not? They were waiting for a phone call from Texas to find out the payment arrangements (as in, who was going to PAY for the test, and how).

Sam waited. Then he went back to the desk and . . . Well, here’s how the dialogue went:

Sam: “When are they supposed to call you back?”

Girl: “I don’t know. Soon, I think.”

Sam (unconvinced): “Do you have their number? I’ll call THEM.”

Girl: “Uh, no. I didn’t get a number.”

Sam: “Well, who was the call supposed to come from? I’ll call my contact there and we’ll expedite this call.”

Girl: “Uh, I didn’t get her name.”

Sam (exuding patience): “Okay. We don't know who's going to call you or when. Tell me, please, how much does the test cost?”

Girl (brightly): “It costs $55.”

Sam: “Tell you what . . . I’LL pay for it. Do you take Discover?”

Girl: “Uh, no.”

Sam (grinding his teeth): “How about American Express?”

Girl: “No. Uh, sorry!”

Sam (nearly at the “losing it” point): “Okay, I’ll write you a personal check. Or would you prefer cash?”

Girl: “Uh, we don’t take those either.”

Sam (with his last vestige of self control slipping away): “Well, what the hell DO you take?”

Girl (brightly): “Oh, we only take money orders.”

Sam (snarling): “Well, gee. I don’t happen to have one of those, so I guess I’ll just leave now. Goodbye!”

The slam of the door registered on the seismograph in nearby Charleston, measuring a strong 3.4 on the Richter scale.

Seething, Sam called me on his cell phone as he drove home. I was in a committee meeting for a non-work but work-related activity and couldn’t take the call. He left a message. I’ll leave the contents of the message to your imagination.

The next morning (Friday, for those of you keeping track) the ORIGINAL sample showed up, was run, and the results were communicated back to me as negative!

I called Sam and told him that if he still wanted to work for us after all that fiasco he should give his notice because the offer was now confirmed!

I thought he might be upset or concerned about our apparent inability to properly arrange things. But to my surprise HE apologized to me! I asked him why.

He replied, “That’s just the way things are in West “By God” Virginia. That’s why I want to move back to Texas!”

He’s scheduled to start on Monday, October 29.


kenju said...

That's not the way it used to be. It is sad that the world has come to such tactics (or lack of them), but it happens is all states, not just WV.

Peter said...

I believe I live in nearby
Queens "By God" Land