I can safely say, at this point, that I’ve dedicated more hours of my life to proving that I’m not on drugs than I ever have to actually experimenting with them (large-scale trafficking of pot being exempt, in this particular example).
My probation officer called me in for a random drug test this morning. The probation office is in Inglewood. I have been looking forward to road tripping around the US after I’m free from the constraints of house arrest. For now, the closest that I’m going to come to a road trip is an early morning drive into Inglewood, which is about fifteen miles away from my apartment. Cruising through a seemingly endless spread of bail bonds storefronts and fast food fried chicken doesn’t stand as a very appealing compromise, but my ability to compromise is considerably limited for the next two months.
I stepped into the office at around 7am, as I’ve done so many times before. As usual, on my walk from a distant parking space, I went through a gas station and grabbed a handful of string cheese. Small comforts.
The waiting room in probation feels generally vacant, save for a scattering of offenders and an elaborate security arrangement, complete with a metal detector walkthrough. Always a familiar welcome, and a reminder that I’m considered one of “them.” The walls in the waiting room are filled with those typical posters of encouragement.
This morning, as I was handed my paperwork through a thick glass window, I was aware that I was being watch by a bystander. He was a fellow offender who looked straight out of Central Casting. He fidgeted with his own paperwork next to me as I began to fill in the form. He was staring at my ankle, which was obviously exposed under my workout shorts.
“Is that a ankle bracelet?” He pointed down. “Yep,” I said, as I wrote on the paper. “Sure is.” He twitched and nodded his head with interest. “Oh. Damn!” An employee of the office opened a door, and the ogler disappeared behind it.
Then, my turn. Oh, the joyous routine. I aced my drug test, yet again. Gold star? Well, at least there was string cheese.
75 days to go.