What, five of us? Sitting on folding chairs in a half-circle around a table. Blue plastic sticks jutting out of our mouths like thermometers. Mumbling if we do speak, but briefly.
We look like patients gathered at a health clinic!
Not like the future employees of Fry’s supermarket that we are.
Kathi, the training specialist for northern Arizona, has called us five women here for one purpose: drug screening.
We’ve all interviewed with her and been offered positions at one of several stores in the area. No one proceeds to training without passing required background checks and drug tests.
I’ve been screened for drugs before of course. Urine tests are standard. Also standard is an employer giving you the paperwork and directing you to a dedicated lab. And it’s across town, always!
You go pee in a cup in a lab’s restroom. The process and environments are rigidly controlled of course. Papers are signed. The restroom’s closely examined between customers. The cup — hermetically sealed — is handled strictly by a staff member until it’s passed over to you — all under supervision, of course.
Too many people — drug users — have devised devious tricks and workarounds to pass screenings. It takes work and tight controls to simply keep pace with the drug-testing deviants!
Screening labs are like visiting prison for 20 minutes. You’re in. You’re closely monitored at every step. Your every move is dictated by rules and regulations and the powers that be. You sign out. You depart. And don’t forget to leave your ankle bracket at the door! haha
So the Fry’s mode of testing seems all the more novel and relaxing. And, in the big picture, impossible to subvert if you’re a drug user.
Arrive at the meeting room at the back of the store at an appointed time.
The testing tool is secured and uncontaminated inside a sealed clear envelope opened only by the overseer. The saliva stick itself resembles a tiny white flag stiffened by a breeze on a thin plastic blue flagpole.
The flag’s surface is reminiscent of a pregnancy stick. If you’ve never had to see one of those, look it up! 😉
Do not touch the white flag! Holding it by the blue pole, insert the flag between gum and cheek.
The overseer checks the time. Then you sit. For five minutes. Staring into space as if your temperature’s being taken.
Or, in this case, fill out the lab’s paperwork. 🙂
Chemicals embedded in the mini-flag reveal the presence of drugs via saliva to the lab.
The “flag” itself is salty. It’s not obvious until about two minutes in, when suddenly you’re sitting there with a salt lick wedged in at the back of the mouth! It’s not an unpleasant taste but it is strong. Nothing that swishing with water and teeth-brushing can’t rectify afterward. 😉
A timed 5 minutes later and the tester’s removed. The white flag’s inserted (push hard) into its little plastic vial. The blue pole is broken halfway at its manufactured breaking point (after all, the lab cares only about the “flag portion).
The overseer instructs and guides every step of the process so there’s no hanky-panky, contamination or misstep to invalidate results.
Each well-labeled vial’s then placed into its own well-labeled bag that’s sealed and Fed Ex’d to a lab somewhere.
No pee cup! No drinking 8 cups of water while driving to a lab! In fact, the only requirement for the saliva test is no food or liquids 10 minutes prior.
Curious creature that I am, I inquired (waited ’til the stick was outta my mouth!) about this novel testing I’d never encountered in my decades of employment. She said Fry’s has employed it for years.
It certainly beats hiking across town to a “prison lab” to pee in a cup! Even though we did all look like sick patients having our temperatures taken at the health clinic. It’s fun to experience new things and sample the twist on drug testing … aka “salt licks on a stick.”