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Commentary: Send the tie wearers to the Wee-Wee Watchman; Its only fair

One of the many things you have to have if you want a blue-collar job with the City is a willingness to be degraded on command when your name pops up for a “random” drug test.
If any of you have your name on your chest or wear a fluorescent vest… or if sweating under the sun or shivering out in the winter wind is included in your daily routine for work…or if doing any of the things nobody else wants to do is part of your job, then you probably already know what I’m talking about.  
On the other hand, if you’re above a certain pay-grade and don’t walk your career path – chosen or otherwise – with a cloud of “presumed guilty” parked directly over your head by the people who make the rules, then you will, more than likely, never experience the warm, fuzzy feeling of handing over a cup of your very own ninety-eight point six degree pee to a perfect stranger. And by the way, that stranger who is wearing latex gloves probably just admonished you against everything your mama ever taught you —NOT to flush OR wash your hands after you finish giving your sample.
As added insult, this last time I had to overcome my shy-kidney condition. My escort, or Wee-Wee Watchman, as I like to think of him, tried to make small talk before he took my pee away to wherever it is they take the pee away to, but not before he spoke these words out loud.  (I swear this is true):  “Huh…smells like somebody ate asparagus last night.”
Before anybody gets upset and thinks I am advocating drug use or alcohol abuse…I’m not. I have witnessed and been directly affected by the horrors of both.  What I AM suggesting though is that until it is scientifically proven that anyone above a certain pay-grade—better educated, better looking, cubicle-dwelling computer-user or just politically connected—is incapable of using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol, then it is perfectly reasonable for you as taxpayers to expect their urine to be as pure and as depressant/stimulant/MD-20/20 free as the those folks who collect your garbage and fix your streets.
 My proposal is that in addition to the entry-level condition of hire urine test that is expected of all new employees, every single City employee, consultant, contractor or elected official from the Mayor on down – should line up once a month, pee in a cup, hand it over to the Wee-Wee Watchman, then wait for the results to be published and posted on the front door of City Hall.  That way, we can all rest easy knowing even the People In Charge have been bullied and embarrassed into behaving the way we expect them to behave.
What you hear a lot is that “random” drug testing saves on insurance costs and is necessary for all “safety-sensitive” personnel.  “Safety-sensitive” in City-speak is anyone who operates machinery or equipment.  This is understandable because, believe me, nobody I work with wants to—and WILL NOT—be standing next to a chainsaw-wielding, meth-crazed, co-worker in the dead of night during a thunderstorm while they’re trying to clear the streets of fallen trees.  
Despite what a lot of people seem to want to believe, the blue-collar tribes are not stupid.
But what could be more “safety sensitive” than directing an entire work force or more “safety sensitive” than controlling the checkbook?  If you claim to be clear headed enough all the time to make the decisions that affect the future of an entire town, then prove it…pee in a cup.
I read on the Internet (it has to be true) that on-the-job, random drug testing is needed because sixty billion dollars a year of productivity is lost due to drug and alcohol-related illnesses and injuries. What I didn’t read is how many billions of dollars a year—lives, too—are wasted and lost because of stupid, ego-driven decisions made by people in power who are exempt from participating in the humiliation they expect the rest of us to put with.
It makes me wonder why there isn’t any random I.Q. testing.
That’s my rant…and I’m sticking to it.
I’m going to eat some asparagus.   

William Carter is a longtime Franklin city employee and published author.  He may be contacted at


Posted on: 11/14/2013


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