That time an airman took 75 minutes to pee for a drug test
"I expected a nice steady river. Instead I got a Saharan drought.”
Performance anxiety is real, especially when you have to pee with someone watching you in order to pass a drug test that decides the fate of your military career. One airman felt that pressure acutely when he took over an hour to produce the goods for a drug test at Moody Air Force Base many years ago.
“I was the laughingstock of the whole testing center,” wrote the airman in a 2006 blog that was published on the Air Force website as part of an Air Combat Command media contest.
This reporter stumbled into this blog while looking up Air Force urination facts for a separate story (modern journalism is a curious thing sometimes). He decided to write about it because it spoke to one of his worst fears: being unable to pee at a highway rest stop because there are just too many people around. And he’s just a civilian, so he can’t imagine having to pee in front of a military drug test monitor every other minute.
“This is so a post,” his editor assured him. And now you will reap the rewards of this poor airman’s unfortunate experience.
“Other monitors, who had overseen at least five guys urinate in the time I was taking, laughed that I hadn’t been able to fill the container yet,” the airman continued. “The monitor told me to just stay calm and wait for the ‘rain.’”
Oddly enough, the airman was feeling pretty confident when he showed up at the testing center earlier that day.
“As I stepped to the urinal, I expected a nice steady river; confident in knowing at least this was one test I surely would pass,” he wrote. “Instead I got a Saharan drought.”
He asked the monitor to turn on the faucet for a few seconds. Maybe it would help. It didn’t. He went back to the waiting room to drink some water. Two gallons of water and 30 minutes later, still nothing.
“I had work to get back to at the office, so I drank until I felt goose-bumps and shivers,” the airman wrote. “I thought I’d be okay, but I was wrong again.”
On his second attempt, the airman got a tiny stream into the sample container. He expected it would be full-to-the-brim soon, but again, no luck.
“I asked him to turn the faucet on again to see if it’d help,” he wrote. “I imagined gushing waterfalls, flushed the toilet. Nothing worked.”
It only got worse. By now, the airman felt ready to throw up from all the water he’d imbibed. He pushed until he felt pain, nothing.
“I joked to the monitor about how I probably needed a prostate exam after pushing so hard,” he said. “He gave a half-smile and a phony laugh.”
Things were looking bleak, but the airman still had hope.
“I knew it was just a matter of time, so I sat down in a bathroom chair,” he said. “The monitor and I discussed our jobs, the weather and sports. The normal stuff two guys sitting in awkward bathroom silence would discuss.”
45 minutes later, the airman approached the urinal again and pushed. A few drips became a few squirts, and he was finally over the requirement. It was a joyous moment.
“Never have I been so happy to urinate, and trust me, there were a few long vacation car trips where my dad wouldn’t stop even if we were approaching a collapsed bridge,” he said.
The experience made the airman think real deep about “the meaning of drug tests and military life,” he said.
It may have been a rough experience, and he may have had to use every muscle in his body, but the airman understood why urinating for a drug test was absolutely necessary for national security.
“Most of us have seen how drug-induced individuals act; if not in real-life, then in movies or on television,” he wrote. “They are often slow, dull-witted and don’t make the best decisions. These are not traits that should describe the Airmen who stand between our enemies and American soil.”
“Take pride” in your drug test, the airman said, “drip by drip.”