These People Haven’t Read This Consent Form

My friend Jed, newly-graduated with a fancy advanced degree in something science-y, is having a rough time of finding employment — like many, many other people. Jed has a certain way with storytelling, and he recently recounted on Facebook one of his adventures in job hunting — which involves the frying of his molecules — which I believe is essential reading.

Here’s Jed (with only the tiniest clean-up edits by me). You’re welcome.

* * * *

So lemme tell ya what it’s come to. In an effort to find a job and pay the bills, I go to a temp agency and the woman asks me if I’m cool with a one day gig that’s a little unusual, but it’s easy and it pays well. I say “Sure, what is it?”

She says, “They need people to test out airport security equipment, so basically you’re just walking through a scanner, sometimes with a secured weapon on you, and that’s it.”

I say, “Ok. I need the money.”

I show up at this place, and as soon as I walk in, the woman at the desk gives me paperwork to fill out, part of which is a pretty hefty consent form. I walk into the back room, and there are several other people participating in this study, and these folks all know each other. These are career motherfuckers. This is their gig. And I’m looking to my right, and my left, and I’m thinkin’, these people haven’t read this consent form.

The guy on my left has massive holes in his ears big enough to fuck and his pants are 18 to 24 inches below his ass, and I’m listening to him talk and I’m thinking, this asshole can’t even read or write; in fact I’m pretty sure he had to get someone, and not an immediate family member, it’s safe to assume, to teach him to sign his name beforehand just to participate in this fucking study.

So I start browsing through this consent form, which is at least 10 pages long, and the first thing I come across is a statement saying that the consent form contains a lot of technical shit, and if you don’t understand portions of it, you’re to ask someone to assist you, (which I’m probably safe in assuming has never taken place in the history of the study) followed by an explanation of the types of scanners, which are not in use at airports yet, the first of which is a microwave scanner, and the potential effects they can have. Now, I don’t know if you know how microwaves work, but basically they cause water molecules to vibrate, so basically they cause the water molecules, in your body, and more importantly, your brain, to vibrate and heat up.

Possible risks, as listed in the consent form: “tissue heating.” Ah. Fantastic. Furthermore, “if you notice any unusual feelings, SMELLS (cooking meat?), etc., please NOTIFY someone immediately.” It goes on to say that these devices have not been found to be unsafe thus far, and that a scan contains microwave radiation within the acceptable limits of whatever organization that jumble of capital letters I didn’t recognize stands for, which, rest assured, has spent thousands of hours microwaving rats until they explode, and knows what the fuck they’re talking about.

I’m cool with going through scanners at the airport. I know they’re safe. Why? Because I don’t have to sign a 10 page consent form. Why? Because the courageous guinea pigs at Manpower [the temp agency in question] have paved the way, and that shit’s out of beta testing.

Back to the consent form. In addition, other scanners utilize gamma and X-rays, but are also within the acceptable limits of exposure, but again, if you smell something similar to that Boston Market smell, speak up. Oh, and we’re gonna do it to you about 300 times today. So now I’m thinking, I’m going to let these people expose my brain to a…MODEST amount of microwaving, and I’m supposed to take comfort in the fact that I’m on slowcook? Lemme tell ya something, I’ve already been up all night smoking and drinking. I think I’ve done enough.

And then there’s the second part of the consent form. They call it “Risk of embarrassment.” They begin by explaining that employees will be taping “secured” weapons and explosives to your body, under your clothes, and also that they will be taping these weapons and explosives to “personal” areas, such as your crotch, breasts, etc., beneath your clothes. Maybe, MAYBE they might need to stuff a small, PETITE muff pistol up your ass, but again, it’s SECURED; there’s absolutely no risk of it going off in your colon.

Now I’m incredibly insecure about my body… I haven’t taken my shirt off in public since….ever, and I’m going to let some mouth breather with no student loan debt and a job that pays more than I’ll make at any job in the next several years strip me down and attach explosives, firearms and sharp objects to shit I use on a regular basis?

So, the consent form can be summarized thusly: “Some asshole you’ve never met, hopefully of your gender, is going to tape a razor blade to your ball sack and then we’re going to microwave your brain for 8 hours, but there’s a cool hundred in it for ya.” When I walked out, handed the consent form back to the woman at the front desk and explained that I’d read it and wasn’t comfortable with it, she looked at me like nobody had ever said that to her before. The point of the story is: I need a real fucking job.

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