Are People Getting Weirder?

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Some of you might find this anecdote a little gross, but stay with me: the point of it is to take note of a particularly puzzling example of weird behavior.

My wife’s doctor had her send away for a special stool sample kit. She was to provide a sample and send the whole thing back to the lab for testing.

Some weeks went by without the kit turning up in the mail. So finally she phoned the laboratory and asked why they hadn’t sent it.

Oh, but they had! They’d not only sent it, but it had already been sent back, complete with sample.

“But I never got it! That wasn’t me, who sent you that sample!” Happily, whoever had done it, had done it wrong and there was no point testing it.

But think about it. Suppose you receive in the mail a stool sample kit that you’d never asked for. What would you do? Uh, check the address, and if it came to you because the carrier misread the address, make sure it gets redirected to the right place? You may even live just a few doors down from the person who was supposed to receive it, and you can carry it over yourself.

Or maybe you’ll just leave the box on the foyer and tell your mail carrier he made a mistake.

Probably the last thing you’d even think of doing would be to provide a stool sample yourself and send it back to the lab for testing. Like, how many times does some stranger come out of the blue and ask you for a stool sample? Not even in San Francisco, baby! And if someone did ask you, would you oblige them? I’m not sure I want answers to these questions.

But even worse–what if this unknown kook hadn’t misapplied the instructions, and they tested the sample not knowing it had not been provided by the patient whom they were supposed to test? “Well, ma’am, we’re sorry to tell you this, but we’ve tested your sample and found you’re at high risk to turn into the Hideous Sun Demon! You’ll need all your internal organs operated on ASAP!”

I mean, what kind of weirdo does this? Shouldn’t you at least ask, Why does someone want a stool sample from me… and who is it who’s asking? And how many people are there out there wacky enough to do a thing like this?

I don’t know about you, but this incident really does strike me as surpassingly bizarre.

12 comments on “Are People Getting Weirder?

  1. Wow! Not only bizarre, but actually dangerous. So much in the world is so messed up, we can see there is not way mere humans can hope to ever correct it. This is why I pray maranatha. Please, Lord.

    1. I don’t want to say too much this morning, lest I mess up the comment contest.
      But it strikes me as pretty dangerous, at least to the original patient, pulling the old switcheroo with stool samples.

    2. In many cases, these people are so accustomed to blindly taking orders that they don’t question anything they are asked to do and many aren’t bright enough to realize that the name on the package isn’t their’s. These are busy people, with superhero movies to watch and video games to play.

    3. I proffered that explanation yesterday, but Patty wasn’t buying it. “Nobody’s that stupid! Somebody out there is just that weird!”

    4. Isn’t there some way to determine who made comment #47,001 just in case you wind up posting the 47,000th? I was going to ask that if I should happen to win the contest, I’d want to turn my prize over to the next in line, because I’ve already won two contests.

  2. Even the Nigerian-prince emailer offers something in return for your bank routing number. What did the lab offer for the … oh my, I can’t go on with this. Suffice it to say that people do respond to outlandish requests. But this one went beyond outlandish.

    1. I was referring to the person who responded instead of Patty. If I got a request out of the blue like that for DNA testing, I would consider it beyond outlandish. Of course, I would immediately (a) check the name and address on the mailing, and (b) call the lab to tell them what had happened to their mailing, or, if the name and address were really mine, (c) try to find out whether there really was such a lab and proceed accordingly. But again, people respond to those Nigerian princes, so yes, they might respond to something like this. But what do they expect in return? That’s what I meant about at least being offered money by the Nigerian prince.

  3. How do you mess up a defecation sample? I know physicians for King George III used to study his defecation to try to figure why he went crazy every once in a while (like when he wouldn’t compromise with the 13 American colonies).

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