I’ll Never Forget the Day

It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky, and then I peed in the water cooler. Everyone experiences something in life that’s never forgotten. Could be your first kiss, your first car, or the birth of your children. For me, it was that Friday morning I peed in the doctor’s water cooler. Well, it’s probably not as bad as you’re thinking, but it was pretty bad. Let’s just say, “I marked it.”

Let me explain. You see, my wife and I made the decision to change our family doctor. We’d heard many good comments about this young doctor whose office was not far from our house. Plus, his office manager was a long time family friend. We made our appointments. I was to go for my first visit on a Friday and my wife was to go the following Friday.

Now, for a little background information. You see, our previous doctor was not in a new building like this new doctor. In our previous doctor’s office, when you were asked for a specimen, the lab person simply handed you an empty cup, you walked across the hall to the restroom, added your personal product, and carefully returned the filled cup to the lab person. Being careful not to overflow, spill, or drop along the way.

I’m going to move a little forward in the story and give you information that I did not know at the time of my first visit. See, the new doctor’s office had a handy dandy stainless steel  double door box, built into the wall between the restroom and the lab.

Urnial Drop Box It was kind of like those room connecting double doors you see in hotels, but only about one foot square and located at near waist high.  The idea is, when the sample has been collected, the donor opens door #1, places the cup containing the sample inside the box, closes the door, washes hands, and returns to the lab waiting area.  After the appropriate amount of time, the lab person opens door #2, on the opposite side, and removes the cup with the sample, and conducts the testing. What an ingenious idea! Keep in mind, this was my first time in this office and I did not know this handy-dandy wall box was even in existence. There was no big yellow arrow pointing to the box, nor was there a sign explaining it’s purpose, or giving step by step instructions.

Now, back to the story in real time. I arrive for my appointment early in order to fill out lots and lots of paperwork. Once that’s completed, I’m soon called back to meet with the doctor. Things are going along well. Everything jumps when it’s hit with the little green rubber headed hammer, nothing skips a beat, nor does anything hurt when he pushes. The first part is soon over and the doctor walks with me to the lab waiting area. We shake hands, I have a seat, and thumb through a National Geographic enjoying the pictures.

Soon, the lab-lady enters the waiting area with her extended hand containing a paper cup. Now, I notice this cup is not like the small clear plastic cups my other doctor uses. This cup is paper and much bigger: about the size of a McDonald’s coffee cup without the handles.

Now, I’m already nervous and we’re entering into the test portion. My mind begins racing at 90 miles an hour,  “I hope she doesn’t expect me to fill this thing up, because there’s no way. If she does, I may have to go back to my other doctor and that means all that paperwork I just filled out will be for nothing.”  As she hands me the cup, she says in a polite voice, “We need a sample. Go around the corner on the left, first door on the left, place the cup in the silver box when you’re done, and I’ll remove it from there.”  My mind races again. Before she’s even completed her instructions, I’m already repeating everything over and over in my head.   At the same time, I’m asking myself, “Glenn, why did you choose to wear khaki pants today, you had navy blue ones hanging beside them? Now, you’re going to have to be even more careful. Odds or not in your favor, Glenn. What where you thinking anyway?”

So I take the cup from her, repeating to myself as I begin walking, “Go around the corner, on the left. There it is, I see it. That wasn’t hard, now was it? First door on the left. There it is, just as she said, first door on the left. Now, make sure it’s not the lady’s room. You would hate to go in the lady’s room. It’s not!! I’m doing good. Now, she said something about a

Water Coolersilver box. Where could it be?  Oh, there’s a silver box, just outside of the restroom door. That must be the one she’s talking about. But it’s not a cube shaped box. It’s more rectangular. I guess some people may consider that a box. Besides, that must be it;  Why would they locate something like that beside the restroom door if it weren’t for urine samples? I’ll bet that’s some new kind of urine testing machine. I see the little recessed indention in the front. That must be where you sit your cup. I bet there are one or two small stainless steel tubes, like drinking straws, that automatically slowly lower themselves down into the contents. They probably pull a vacuum. One straw pulls just the correct amount to run the test, and the other one is programed to empty the unused contents into the sewer system. There, I see where the cup sits on some grading that’s located in the indention area. That’s smart. In case you spill some there’s a drain under the grading. I’ll bet, after the sampling is completed that grading opens up like a trap door and the cup drops down into a small trash compactor like you see in new kitchens on the “Home & Garden Channel”. What a great invention! With this machine, no humans have to physically touch anything. It’s all done automatically. Amazing! I can’t wait to place my sample in the machine, and watch it work.”

So, I enter the restroom and things go great. No drips, no spills, and my khakis look perfect. I’m now feeling more relaxed and relieved. The hard part is over. I soon proudly exit the restroom with my sample in hand. I step to the front of the testing machine, bend at the knees and with the gentle precision of an astronaut docking his spacecraft, I guide my paper cup into the recessed area of the urine testing machine. Once it’s safely resting in place, I release my grip, carefully remove my hand, and watch expecting to see the two stainless straws lower and the testing process begin. I wait, but nothing happens.  I assume it’s probably not set to automatic, and the lab-lady will soon come out and push the manual  override start button.

So, I straighten up from my bended knee position and return to the waiting area and my National Geographic. As I’m thumbing through the pages and enjoying the beauty of the multi green colors of the South American rain forest, the lab-lady appears in the corner of my eye. I look up and she says, “I need to get your sample.” I say, “I put it in the box”. She then says, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see it. I’ll get it.”  At that moment she starts walking around the corner and I’m following closely because I want to witness those two stainless steel straws as they lower into the sample. I thought it strange that she was not walking toward the urine testing machine, but she was stopping early and reaching for the restroom door.

For some reason, it was at that very instant I got this weird gut feeling. I sensed the lab-lady was having an ‘I-do-not-need-this’ experience.  Again my mind begins traveling at 90 miles an hour and a sickening thought enters my mind, “Glenn, that urine testing machine looks a lot like a water cooler without the water container. You know, that large glass jar that’s on top. The thing old people call it a bubbler. Surely it’s not a water cooler. No, please, it couldn’t be. Besides there’s no way it could work without a bubbler on top, or could it? I’ve never seen one without a bubbler. But wait, I see pipes coming from the wall and leading to the rear of the testing machine. If those pipes contain water, it doesn’t need a bubbler on top.  This is not looking good, Glenn.”

By this time, the lab-lady has the restroom door almost completely open and I say, “No, it’s not in there. It’s in the box, I put it in the box.”  She asks, “What box?”  I said, “This box over here.” With a puzzled look, she watches as I walk over to the testing machine and remove a cup of urine. I hand her the still warm cup, and she quickly turns her back and starts walking toward the lab. I then ask, “Is that the drinking water fountain?”  Without turning around, she says, “No ….. not exactly.”  I ask, “What do you mean, not exactly? It may not be a fountain, but it’s where you drink water from, isn’t it?  That’s when she burst out laughing and said , “YES, YES, YES, why in the world did you place your cup in there?” I answered, “Because, that’s where you said to place it. You said, ‘Go around the corner, first door on the left, place your cup in the silver box, when you’re done, and I’ll get it.’  So, that’s what I did! I placed it in the silver box when I was done.”

Well, we all had a BIG laugh. We were laughing so hard that other staff members were coming to see what was going on.  Every time the story was told, we laughed even harder. After a few minutes of fun, everyone went back to their duties.  As I was standing at the window checking out,  Several staff members came back to say how much they appreciated the good laugh.  As one staff person said “We love our profession, but some days can be sad and hard to find something to laugh about. But it’s for sure, we’ll be remembering and laughing about this day for a long long time to come. So, thank you for peeing in our water cooler.”


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