The inherent privacy of peeing in a cup

Posted by on November 1, 2010 at 10:03 pm.

Since I have recently started a new job, I had to go through the ordeal of a drug test. Since my start date was so soon after I received my offer, I got to do my drug test in lovely Gainesville, Fla., after I had started.

I had no concerns going in to the test, especially since the only drugs I “use” are alcohol and ibuprofen. It was just something I had to do.

The information provided by my workplace said the process was quick, did not require an appointment and would only take between 5 and 10 minutes. When I arrived at the lab, there was a rather large gathering in the lobby. I sat down and ended up talking to a few people around me about television just to pass the time (one of them was a Dish Network employee). But eventually, they both finished what they’d come to do and I was in a new group of people.

This was not simply a lab for drug tests. It was a full service facility for a variety of different tests including blood work of all kinds. Not everybody is present just to pee in a cup, and some people are present for very private reasons.

While I sat waiting my turn, a young man walked in. He was about my age, dressed up in slacks and a tie and he wore a vest. From looking at him, I guessed that he was taking a pre-employment drug test like myself. The vibe was very clear. After filing his paperwork, he sat down near me. Casual conversation was at a lull, and so he began.

By asking the woman seated next to me what she was at the lab for.

I believe my jaw might have dropped. The idea that he was inquiring about a stranger’s medical status in front of a bunch of other strangers shocked me. I thought he must have believed that all the facility did was administer drug tests and he was just excited to share his reason for being present. What happened next shocked me even more than his question, though.

The woman answered, disclosing the details of her history of cancer and how she had to get a checkup twice a year to be sure she was still healthy.

After some follow up questions and well wishes, the man asked a woman (who was obviously pregnant) what she was in for, and she said it had to do with her pregnancy. The man said he hoped everything  was well with that, and she replied that it would all depend on the outcome of the tests she was having done that day.

Perhaps I’m overly sensitive about the kind of information that people were sharing, or perhaps I’m too polite for my own good (one of the reasons I don’t like reporting), but I was surprised at the freedom of information in the office, especially one in which our private details are so closely guarded by law.

But people are always sharing with whoever is around them, and people are always asking more than somebody thinks they should. As for me, I was glad my name was called before he asked what I was in for.

Leave a Reply