When I was a kid, probably about 12 years old or so, I made my first solo trip to the doctor’s office. My mother had to drop me off and take care of some other parental responsibilities – one of those, you can’t be in two places at once kind of things.
It was the typical doctor’s office for those days. The office had a small waiting room with nearly every seat taken by an older person, head down, reading a magazine, and it had a receptionist sitting behind a rather tall counter. I could only see the receptionist from her nose on up. Opposite the receptionist’s counter was a a closed door.
I timidly walked through the waiting room of old folks – they were probably in their 30’s – and came to the receptionist to check in. I was promptly given a glass with the instructions, “Provide us with a urine sample.” I immediately knew I was in trouble. I just stared at her and she finally said, “The restroom is behind that door,” as she nodded her forehead in the direction of the door on the other side of the waiting room. (Why Americans refer to this place as a ‘restroom’ is beyond me. It is the last place in earth I would want to rest in.)
I turned and walked into the restroom with the nice glass in hand. I closed the door and I began pondering the purpose of the glass container. It was nicer than what we had in our cupboards at home. My dilemma was that I was not absolutely certain what the word “urine” meant. We didn’t use that word in our daily lives at home or at school. I was 51% certain, the lady with no face beneath her nose wanted me to pee in the glass. However, I was also very concerned with the consequences if I should be wrong. Also, a part of me thought the word ‘urine’ might mean the stuff that comes out of the other end…the stinky stuff. I was in a helluva situation, for sure. If I peed in her fine glass and that glass wasn’t to be peed in…well, that would not be good. However, it seemed to me that that would be better than turning in feces (I didn’t know that word either at that time) and finding out that she had not requested my feces from me.
I had to make a decision. I was in there way too long already. At this point, I demonstrated a character trait that would be with me for a long time…even to this day. If I am going to be wrong about something, I go all in. I fully commit to my errors in judgement. No half way wrong for me. I decided to pee in the container, but not knowing how much pee to pee I peed all that I could pee and I filled the cup to a scientifically impossible level that was over the rim, but yet it did not spill over.
“Okay,” I thought to myself, “Now what do I do?” With the steadiness of hand of a heart surgeon, I opened the door with one hand and with the steadiness of foot of a tightrope walker, I began the journey back through the waiting room to deliver what I sincerely hoped was… urine. Suddenly the old folks, who seemed almost dead reading their magazines, came to life as I negotiated my way through the waiting room. They all seemed to want to get as far away from my gift as possible. I do have to admit I was surprised to find the contents to be so warm in my palm.
I made it all the way to the receptionist counter, without spilling a drop, where the lady with no face beneath her nose was busy looking down at something. I was proud of my steadiness and I very, very gently laid my pee, at her nose level, on the counter only inches from her forehead. It got her attention, that’s for sure. The look on her face was one of shock, disgust, amazement. She hesitantly said, “Uh, …thank you.”
I was SO relieved, in more ways than one. I had made the right decision behind that closed door. I proudly turned and took a seat, grabbed an Outdoors Life magazine and mentally added the word urine to my vocabulary while wondering what the official word was for the other option I considered depositing in that fine glass?