Pee Patrol

Is Tucson Safe From Glassy-Eyed Urine Thieves?

By Jeff Smith

THERE OUGHTA BE a law against chasing a kid down the street, trying to get him to pee in a cup. And, apropos of my last column, there probably is already. So let's not get up a petition or tie up our Congressperson's switchboard in a rush to close yet another perceived loophole in the social contract, okay?

Smith My entree into this bizarre subject was a front-page article in The Arizona Daily Star last week. Seems a couple of losers got arrested after chasing an 8-year-old schoolboy down the street, trying to talk him into urinating into a cup, so one of them could turn it in to her parole officer, so he'd think she wasn't using drugs. The couple, Caroline Gomez Maldonado, 42; and Lorenzo Ignacio Salinas, 33, had run this by three other kids from Nash Elementary School before trying this particular kid. They were getting desperate and actually wound up running down the street after him. He took off like a turpentined cat, while a couple of other kids ran home and told their folks, who called the law.

Okay, now in view of the obvious weirdness of the situation, I'm going to back up and walk you through it again:

Two mental midgets, at least one of whom has a long and documented problem with drug-abuse--and a prison record for drug violations--set out to thwart the good intentions of the Parole Department. Knowing that she may be called in, randomly and without notice, to submit a urine sample for drug testing, Maldonado seeks a specimen from someone she assumes to be drug-free. Putting aside for the moment the question of how she's going to substitute the clean, false sample for her own, presumably tainted pee, one must ask himself why she would resort to accosting complete strangers of vulnerable age near an elementary school in broad daylight.

Doesn't Maldonado know anyone who doesn't abuse drugs...for a couple of days, anyway?

Getting back to the case in point, Maldonado invites along this scary-looking 33-year-old, Salinas, which accomplishes nothing more than terrorizing any prospective urine-donor they approach, thus fiending their original enterprise. And, to further exacerbate their already tenuous hope of success, to say nothing of their grip on reality, Maldonado carries on her person, at the time of this quest for the golden fountain of youth, her usual kit of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Plus of course she's out on parole from a seven-year sentence for drugs, and the terms of her parole specifically prohibit her from associating with anyone under 18, or loitering around where anyone that young might be hanging out.

NOTWITHSTANDING all the foregoing aggravating circumstances, our fair city still is treated to the ludicrous picture of two desperate--and desperately stupid--loadies, hot-footing down the block with a plastic cup held out toward a fleeing, panicked, 8-year-old...

I'm thinking back to my own childhood now, trying to remember those things my mom and dad told me never to do: Never take candy from a stranger; never get into a car with a stranger; never get caught in bed with a stranger's wife... Nope: They never said anything about peeing in a cup for an out-of-breath couple with glazed eyes and hypodermics sticking out of their arms. Perhaps my parents assumed this one might come under the general heading of common sense.

But then perhaps common sense is an outmoded concept in today's increasingly outré zeitgeist. After all, the principal of the school the 8-year-old had just left when he was met my our pee-thieves, went out of his way to commend the boy for having "the presence of mind to run."

Excuse me, but I'd put the kid's reaction in that same class of stimulus/response as jumping when somebody gooses you.

My own reaction to all of this is a jot more cerebral, but still not worthy of commendation: I just wanted to know what in the blue-balled hell could lead this woman to believe that she could pull this stunt off. Don't they watch while she pees in the cup for drug-testing? If not, why not just take along a Thermos of apple cider, and show the parole folks how really wholesome and clean you are?

So I called the parole people and talked to Leo Henke, the state supervisor for the Tucson area. He explained to me about human anatomy.

"Women have body cavities that men don't," he said, "and a women with 20 years of drug abuse and 20 years of experience with the system of drug-testing, might train herself, with muscle control, to express a specimen from a hidden container."

Wow. I wonder if she could train herself to smoke a cigar. Anyhow, it struck me that we're talking marketable skills here: Certainly enough income-earning potential to quit the sordid life of a drug-addict. Las Vegas calls.

Henke said that in Maldonado and Salinas, clearly we are not trafficking with the best and the brightest among our junkie population, but notwithstanding this fact, the remote possibility exists that a testee might put one over on the Parole Department. Not all urine donations are supervised, he said.

"If it comes down to doing all our tests supervised, and doing another thousand tests overall, sometimes I'll go for the extra thousand."

Most test, however, are monitored. These include the tests done "in the field" or in Parole Department offices, he said, and as many of the tests taken in private labs under contract with the state, as his department specifies. Parole officers have a pretty good handle on which parolees need to be watched like a hawk--or like a gynecologist--and which can sometimes safely be given a cup and sent to the loo on their own. Some of us simply get stage fright when summoned to stand and deliver in front of an audience.

So rest easy, Tucson: we're not likely to see a rash of similar incidents playing out outside our school playgrounds. Fortunately, few of us are as dumb as Caroline and Lorenzo.

Still, I can't quite get that unanswered issue of Maldonado's miraculous muscle-control out of my mind... TW

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