Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Outrage at 30,000 Feet

When one begins to walk down that rocky road on which a boy becomes a man there are certain milestones one must cross. Moments that, because of there shared collective humanity, teaches us to see ourselves in each other. Whether it’s your first kiss, your first love, or, as is recounted below, the first time getting drug tested by your probation officer.

I was twenty one years old and I was nervous, not so much for the results of the test, although that was certainly an issue, as for the idea of urinating in front of this imposing and bizarre looking creature. His name was Clark Rogers and his unkempt whiskers, bulbous baldhead, and top-heavy physique made it clear that he was some kind of Walrus. He had called my cell phone requesting one of a series of “random” drug tests that was part of my probation. I had assiduously avoided all previous tests with various invented maladies ranging from “my tummy hurts” to “Not only does my tummy hurt but I’m celebrating my younger brother’s birthday at Six Flags and we have no car or discernible means of transportation back into the city.” This did not cancel the test but succeeded in postponing it so that I could flush whatever I had taken that week out of my system. Now, as Clark lumbered into my apartment, clearly exhausted from flopping around in the ocean all day, the jig, as they say, was up. There are many times in which a random drug test is merely an inconvenience and not a reason for outright panic. The Monday morning after July 4th weekend was not one of them.

But how did I find myself in such a calamitous predicament? I had clearly deserved it, hadn’t I? No. In fact, I was the victim of a conspiracy perpetrated by American Airlines in an attempt, no doubt, to sully my good name. Six months earlier I was flying back to college after winter break, eager to resume my studies at the esteemed University of Wisconsin. At the airport bar I, along with three equally eager associates, had decided to celebrate our return with a few bottles of the LaGuardia airport’s finest chardonnay. After polishing off our beloved vino we entered the plane with a gallant flourish. Clearly the other passengers were excited at the sight of us and we saluted them with a hearty cheer. As we took off I was excited for the journey and figured it would be uncouth and insulting to our fellow passengers to not keep up my delightful demeanor. Thus I decided to switch to a more gentlemanly Jack Daniels and Coke in order to assure my fellow passengers that I was not some rowdy collegiate but a mature man of manners with a fine taste in liquor.

Alas, the stewardess did not concur. She brusquely denied my courteous request and insisted that the joy I had brought to the other passengers had not been reciprocated by the flight crew. Perturbed by her lack of appreciation for our merry group I informed her that a sternly worded letter would be registered with her superiors, and that her job itself would very likely be in peril. Needless to say she felt otherwise and I was left drink-less, forlorn, and forced to make that dreary slog towards sobriety. A beaten man, sleep shortly overtook me.

Several hours later I was rudely shaken back into consciousness by the burly arm of some miscreant with a badge. It seems that we had landed and I was being escorted off the plane by the authorities involved in the situation. Clearly someone had been informed of the stewardess’s insolence and I was certain that some sort of financial reward awaited me. Appallingly, this was not the case. In fact, I was being charged with disturbing a flight crew and no heed was paid to my cries of injustice. I will spare you the grisly legal debacle that followed but the end result was the aforementioned sweaty mass Clark Rogers urging me to urinate into a receptacle. The end for yours truly was clearly nigh.

Yet fate smiled upon your put-upon protagonist on that Monday morn. Owing to the sub-par quality of the good times I had ingested over the weekend my test was clear. I danced a happy dance and proudly asked the be-tusked behemoth to leave my abode. He scowled at me and somehow smushed his physique through my front door. While he would surely look to trap me again, today he had been bested. I had faced the rotund rapscallion head on and my innocence had been declared.  And I had also learned a lesson that every young gentleman must understand. Never answer a phone call from your PO excuse-less.