A Pot to Piss in

I had a test tube of urine sitting on my desk all weekend.

No, I haven’t taken to drinking my own piss as a means of self-cleansing. I drink so much coffee, it would probably just taste like Columbian beans anyway, so why not just stick with coffee? As things-on-my-desk go, a test tube brimming with pee isn’t particularly out of place. Other things current sitting on my desk include a denarius of Clodius Albinus (from the brief period he stood as a usurper Augustus operating out of Lugdunum), a McDonald’s apple pie now in its 26th year of existence, a Lego minifigure of Christopher Lee, an alien-queen paperweight made entirely out of welded together hardware-store junk and bicycle chains, a 250 million year old trilobite fossil, a le Roy mechanical pocket watch from the 1950s and, inevitably, a cup of black coffee.

I wasn’t expecting to add urine to the collection, and I was eager to get rid of it. I found myself unexpectedly saddled with the burden last Friday when I went for a blood and urine test at the brand-spanking-new CLSC (centre local de services communautaires for the acronym-impaired (community service centre for the French-impaired)) around the corner. Purely a formality of my annual check-up, I popped over in the morning after the requisite 14-hour fast to get jabbed and bled.

The new facility had all the bells and whistles socialized medicine has to offer, including a touch-screen numbered-ticket dispenser, an elderly security guard to explain how touch screens work to the elderly patrons, a display monitor that goes “ping” when it’s your turn to check in at the counter, and bloated bureaucratic oafs to make sure it all runs as inefficiently as possible in the face of technological advancements in efficiency.

The bleeding part went smoothly. The urine part, not so much.

I’ll admit, my urine sample’s failure to launch was entirely my fault. The blood-test unit is only open in the morning, and closed by 9:00 am. That meant setting an alarm and getting up early. Mornings aren’t my thing, so I typically rely on autopilot to see me through my washing and dressing and eating a bowl of Shreddies (when I’m not fasting for a blood test). Purely on autopilot, I also indulged in my morning piss that day. Which meant I had nothing to offer by the time I was supposed to produce for my urinalysis.

I wish I could say this was the first time I’d done this to myself.

After the blood test, I sat in the waiting room, a bar-coded personalized specimen receptacle in my pocket, waiting for the magic to happen. In a concerted effort to force the aforementioned magic to happen, I made frequent trips to the water fountain to stockpile ammunition. A series of trips to a bathroom stall amounted to nothing but performance anxiety. I had a gallon of water sloshing around inside me, but my kidneys insisted on operating on their own schedule, in their own due time. Not unlike government-payroll bureaucrats, but I digress.

After nearly an hour of languishing in the waiting room, listening to a pair of grandmotherly junkie-rehab patients talk about the social dynamics of their halfway house, I was finally ready to perform. After squeezing out the first few drops through willpower alone, the floodgates opened and I was able to summon enough urine for a sample. More than enough. Much more than enough.

“Where were you?” I yelled at my copious stream of piss.

It offered no excuses.

Eagerly, I sealed the tube, returned it to its designated plastic bag, and rushed it to the clinic down the hall – which was locked tight for the day. It was past 9:00. Bugger.

I asked around and determined that, although no one would accept my sample because the daily shipment of bodily fluids had already departed for a lab across town, I could drop it off on Monday morning.

And so the piss sat, waiting patiently on my desk. Only last night did I empty the tube, rinsing it out and preparing it for a fresh morning sample. I left the empty tube in plain sight on the toilet tank where even my autopilot couldn’t fail to spot it.

This morning I embarked to drop off my new and improved sample like a good little patient. Returning to the CLSC, I avoided eye contact with any security guard eager to redundantly school me on how to use a touch-screen, and got my ticket number for a “sample delivery” with a single painfully obvious poke at a digital button.

It wasn’t long before I was called to the desk. I presented the plastic bag with a clear tube full of golden goodness.

“Where’s your requisition form?” demanded the all-too typical overpaid, over-unionized, under-motivated government stooge. Although there was no attempt to communicate what this requisition form entailed, the tone of her voice communicated so much more. Boredom and distaste mostly.

“I was told to drop this off here Monday morning.”

“You can’t do that without a requisition form.”

“That’s not what I was told.”

“We can’t accept it. This could be from anywhere.”

“My dick hole. That’s where it’s from,” I said with my sarcastic inside voice.

“It has a name and a bar code on it,” I said with my sarcastic outside voice.

I dropped the name of “Louise,” one of her co-workers who I’d discussed this with on Friday. The personal touch seemed to provoke some movement from the sloth-like government lummox. They don’t like it when you know their names. It gives you power. It arms you with a finger to point at somebody specific if you go over their heads to complain. She grunted and rose to her feet, lumbering off with my bag-o-piss.

“Louise, Louise, Louise…” she repeated, an annoyed mantra that suggested there would be hell to pay. Grunting, irritable, whining hell.

Realizing she’d made the terrible mistake of leaving the area with my sample in hand and not a single word of “excuse me” or “wait here, please,” I seized the opportunity and stealthily left the building like a ninja Keyser Soze. Poof, I was gone.

I expect one day, after the collapse of western civilization (which, I’m reliable informed, may happen as soon as next Tuesday morning around 10:30), my urine will be discovered by future archaeologists, still in its bar-coded test tube, safely ensconced in a ziplock biohazard baggie, forgotten at the bottom of a filing cabinet drawer. Or maybe the government worker bee just threw it away. I don’t know. She could have drank it for all I care. I don’t expect the lab technicians are likely to discover the secrets of the universe when they read the tea leaves (and coffee beans) that comprise the discharged contents of my bladder.

Perhaps the archaeologists will have more luck when it’s their turn to analyse my piss sometime in the post-apocalypse.

For those simulated-city-building nerds who expressed interest in my plug for Luke Hodorowicz’s incredible solo project, Banished, here’s a reminder that the game debuts tomorrow, February 18. It will be available through Steam (and elsewhere) for twenty bucks. Money well-spent if the hours of gameplay videos I’ve watched are any indication. I’ve been following the devlog for this project for over a year now, and it’s great to see it finally made available to all the eager fans who have been dying to play, myself very much included. Congratulations, Luke.

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