Not long ago, I was driving in a neighborhood that shall not be named, and I stopped in front of a hospital that shall not be named. A young woman wearing a nurse uniform had flagged me down, and of course, I picked her up.
As soon as she closed her door and I began moving, the woman began sobbing uncontrollably.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I should do, so I reached into my center console, pulled out a small packet of tissues, and handed it to her.
“I’m sorry … I’m so sorry”, she said, “I don’t mean to freak you out, but I don’t know what to do … I just don’t know what to do … I need someone to talk to!”
“It’s okay”, I assured her, ”what’s going on?”
“I just got blood in my eye”, she continued, “ I was drawing blood, I made a mistake, blood spurted into my eye and …………. my patient had HIV!”
Silence filled the car as I tried to think of something appropriate to say. I mean, what do you say? What is the Emily Post correct thing to say when someone gets HIV in their eye?
I thought for awhile, and finally said, “That’s frightening. You just came from a hospital, though, I’m sure they did something to help minimize your risks, right?”
“I didn’t tell anyone I work with”, she stated flatly.
“Well … why not?”, I asked, truly confused.
“Because … ”, she replied, “……………. I SMOKE WEED!!!”
At this point, she once again busted out into uncontrollable tears.
When she recollected herself somewhat, she explained to me that the first thing Nurse Resources (or whatever it’s called) does when an employee goes to them for a health concern is to drug test them. If they test positive for anything, they are immediately fired or sent to some kind of rehab purgatory until they repent for their evil ways.
Unfortunately, I knew the woman’s explanation to be true.
Well, the reason I was having lunch with him was to celebrate the fact that he had just been re-hired at a new metal shop after 18 months of unemployment.
Why had he been unemployed for eighteen months?
After working for the same metal shop for 14 years … in 2010, David got a tiny piece of metal in his eye while grinding off some edges. He went home for the day, tried in vain to wash it out, and … fearing being laid off of the corporate plantation, went to work the next day.
At some point during the next day, the pain became unbearable and his vision began getting blurry, so he finally summoned his overseer to explain what had happened. The overseer took him to the company-approved doctor, and what is the very first thing the doctor did?
That’s right, urine tested him.
Now, David smokes pot, but not that much. “I’m not a fan of booze, and I find that one bong hit after work helps me unwind and helps me sleep without having any kind of hangover. I’ve had this exact same routine for 20 years.”, he tells me, and I believe him. I’ve seen him perform this ritual with my own two eyes.
Anyway, after getting metal in his eye, David’s urine test came back positive, at which point he was summarily fired. Oh, and forget any kind of workman’s comp or medical reimbursements, he was told. Since David smoked pot after work and on weekends, every bad thing that had ever happened to him for any reason, was his fault. At least this was the company’s (apparently perfectly legal) position.
Now, to be fair, the company did offer him an alternative which had been negotiated by his union. If David wanted to keep his job, he could pay $7,000 for “drug treatment”, which more or less entailed daily screenings of Reefer Madness and constant admissions that he was a powerless, pathetic human being.
David declined that seven thousand dollar invitation, and spent the better part of the next two years looking for another job.
God Bless America.
Now, don’t shoot the messenger, boys and girls, for this is the steaming pile of shit that you have made. You, you, and only you. You elected this nonsense, you re-elected it, and you re-elected it again. If you are outraged by anything you’ve read so far, walk over to the nearest mirror, point your finger at it, and blame that. Blame that person when he/she strides up to the ballet box this year and pulls the lever for a Democrat or a Republican. Blame that when we get four more years of the same, and after that, another four. You’ll ask for it, you’ll get it, we’ll all wallow in it.
It is my firm belief that, one hundred years from now, we are going to look back on this period of drug hysteria in the same manner that we currently look back on witch hunts and slavery. We are going to hang our heads in shame, and wonder what our grandparents could have been thinking.
For the past thirty years, our country has been seized by a completely insane and irrational fit of anti-intellectualism. Anti-intellectualism that will embarrass our decendents to no end when they are forced to confront the atrocities of their forefathers. This assumes, of course, that Idiocracy is not proven to be a documentary.
Oh, but I can hear it now. The keyboard clicks of a thousand Eastside mothers and beer-swilling boys from the south:
“Rex, I don’t have any sympathy for those people. They used drugs. Drugs are illegal. Drugs are bad and people who use drugs are bad. I don’t use drugs, and look how well I turned out! Drugs are for losers, and losers shouldn’t be able to work in the good old USA!”
Well, folks, I hear you, but I don’t for a second believe you. The fact is that you worship drug users every, single, solitary day of your life.
When people start talking to me about the evils of drug use, I always challenge them to go through their record collection and throw out everything that’s ever been made by a drug user. I challenge them to throw out every book that was written by a drug user. I challenge them to discard any artwork made by someone that used drugs. I challenge them to rebuke every article ever written by a drug user, and wait patiently for them to reject the Constitution of the United States of America.
But, you know what?
They never do.
They never discard anything.
You see, despite what people say, and despite their moral grandstanding, everyone on this planet knows that drugs and their users define Western Culture. Everyone knows that, without drugs, this world would be an awful, awful place, almost completely devoid of the arts.
We all know this. Rich, poor, corporate, indie … we know it.
Which exhibit did they sponsor?
Why, the Kurt Cobain exhibit, of course. That’s right, a bunch of companies that obsessively test each and every employee for drugs … companies who by their own admission would never hire Kurt Cobain … openly sponsored an exhibit glamorizing him.
Because they, like the rest of us, love drugs, love people who use drugs, and love the things that drug users make. They know, like the rest of us, that drugs are responsible for Purple Haze, Leaving Las Vegas, and the Apple Computer.
Everyone I wanted to emulate as a kid used drugs, and everyone you wanted to emulate as a kid used drugs. You can admit it or not, but deep down, you know it’s true.
As such, it’s time to put an end to this faux moral-outrage, complete and utter bullshit, hypocritical and nonsensical war on drugs and everything that goes along with it. We need to drop the phony baloney pretentious feigned outrage when an employee (or anyone else) is caught with “marijuana in their system”, and we need to cast off the corporate collar and government ass probe that has become the drug war.
It’s turned free people into slaves, good people into monsters, and society into an orgy of sadomasochistic barbarism.
As for the nurse, I tried my best to reassure her. I told her that even though she got blood in her eye, chances were very, very slim that she would contract HIV herself. I gave her my card and I asked her to let me know how things work out.
I hope that one day she calls, and I hope that it’s good news.