Brown Bag With a Brown Turd

I Was Wrong A Few Years Ago Because This Is The Most Awkward Errand Ever

I once claimed that carrying sperm-less soup to the urologist was the most awkward errand ever. I was wrong.

Today, I go to my first GI appointment to figure out what’s up on with my stomach issues that I’ve had for the last six months. The doctor listens, and I feel great that he’s being thorough. So thorough in fact, that when I show up to have my labs drawn they refuse because I didn’t have my sample yet.

Me: Sample?

Phlebotomist: Yes, we can’t split up your order. Here’s the tube and seat and gloves because it can get a little messy. The sample needs to reach this line, and try not to get any urine in it.

Me: That’s a lot of crap.

Phlebotomist: If you can’t get here today, you need to freeze it.

Feeling like the phlebotomist is saying, And I will forever know you had a poopsicle in your freezer, I head home determined to be back with a vial full of stool. I HAVE STANDARDS.

But while I may have diarrhea of the mouth, my other end is feeling shy so I make some phone calls.

Suddenly, I have a hello from below.

Me: I gotta go.

Friend on phone: Wait, can I ask you one more thing?

Me: No.

I walk into the bathroom armed and ready to get what I came for even though, as I explained to Scott, I’d have to pee and poop separately.

Scott: What? You just pee first.

Me: Well, for guys it must be different because you have to always decide: Urinal or Toilet. I don’t have to think about it much. UNTIL TODAY.

Scott: So you just sit down and WHO KNOWS WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN? You shouldn’t say I’m peeing or I’m pooping. You should say I’m peeooping. Because you never know!

I work through my peeooping tendencies as best a lady can, and I glove, scoop and give my phlebotomist a mental shout out for suggesting I write my name on everything BEFOREHAND because she was right, it is a messy business. When I reach the very high line on the vial, I want to shout: I HAVE DONE THE DEED.

Except the errand has only begun. I have to brown bag it.

Brown Bag With a Brown Turd
Brown Bag of Awkward

And I have to pick up my daughter first because my bottom did not time dropping off its own kids at the pool around me picking mine up.

I slyly look out my front door because not only do I have a brown bag, I have a special seat to catch the stink crew, and I refuse to throw it away in the kitchen trash can. However, I can’t pull off small talk with all this poop in my hand. Luckily, the only people outside are fixing a neighbor’s roof, and I decide that they won’t suspect a poop seat if I act nonchalant as though it might not be a poop seat.

I also make no eye contact so I have no idea if this plan worked.

After tossing the seat, I put the brown bag into the car, and this is when I decide that my current errand is more awkward than the deposit errand I ran two years ago. My errand smells like butt.

I drive to my daughter’s school and lock the car because I don’t want to have to scoop my poop ever again or take it for scenic drive around town. As we walk from school back to the car, I mention an errand but I don’t give away the details because for the first time in a long time, I want her to stay innocent of what the world holds for her. That sometimes when our stomach hurts for longer than six months, medical science will punish us by making us poop in plastic tubs and spoon them in plastic tubes and brown bags that we then have to carry to strangers.

As my daughter and I walk into the closest drop-off place, I repeat to myself DIGNITY DIGNITY DIGNITY as I employ a half-smile, blank-stare down the longest hallway in Richmond, Virginia.

The phlebotomist behind the counter looks at the sample and says: Who told you to use this tube?

Me: She didn’t give me her name.

Other Phlebotomist: It’s the wrong vial. You need two different tubes for this order. I have to toss out your sample.

As she walks away, I am crestfallen another person is throwing away a plastic bottle of my turds.

I pitifully reply: You know this was the most awkward errand ever.

Part II: Not Peeooping

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

37 thoughts to “I Was Wrong A Few Years Ago Because This Is The Most Awkward Errand Ever”

  1. I am so sorry you have to do that again! I have actually experienced the same awkward errand on 2 different occasions. The first time, I got a stomach virus on a multi-school field trip (in Richmond!) and so many people got sick, the VA Dept. of Health requested voluntary stool samples to figure out what it was. (Something boring. Ugh.) So at least I can say I gave my poop to science that time. The second time I was sick. I totally sympathize with the feeling of the poop (or in your other awkward errand, semen) collection people judging your samples- wth? I hope you find out what is wrong and feel better soon! (I never found out exactly what was wrong with me, but eventually it went away…)

  2. A hello from below! I’m dying. I really hope the second time was a charm. No one should have to deal with stomach pains, awkward errands, AND incompetent, uncommunicative phlebotomists. Did I spell that right?

  3. Funniest. Post. Ever.

    But so sorry you have go through that again…

    I’ve never had to deliver a vial of poop, but I have had to deliver the gallon o’ pee. You know, the one that needs to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours as you periodically top off its rising levels? The one that causes your kids to keep asking if they can have some of that “lemonade in the funny-looking jug”? Yikes.

    Good luck, mama. Keep us posted.

  4. Being too well acquainted with this errand of shame, I can only nod and laugh. I wish I had had your sense of humor as I carried by poo tube across campus years ago.

  5. Oh no. There should be a special punishment for people who say, “I have to toss out your sample,” when you’ve been driving around with said sample in your car. I’m sorry Alex.

  6. Having to do it twice just isn’t right. How could someone get the tubes wrong? I mean how many different tubes are there for this kind of thing?

    I keep thinking about how you locked the door to keep your brown bag safe. I can’t stop giggling about someone swiping it and how disappointed they would be to open it.

  7. I am immediately forming a punk band called Poopsicle and our first album will be “Brown Bag of Awkward”. This blog is hysterical. I mean I FEEL for ya, but holy, well, shit, it was funny.

      1. You shall be the lead singer. Sort of the anti-Katy Perry.

        And thank Scott for answering a question I have long wondered about. I have thought about how men have to decide whether to sit or stand in the loo but do they know that sometimes when women sit to pee, they get a surprise and that they are capable of going #1 and #2 at the same time (#3, shall we call it)? They need to work that into the lectures at med school.

  8. I have to tell you I read this after ordering stool samples for a patient and just about died laughing…well written. I hope we can catch up soon!

  9. I feel all sorts of violated for you.
    I would’ve asked if I could just scoop some out and put it in the proper vials but then I’d look creepy and then i would probably puke because I haven’t played with my poop since I was 1 years old so says my Mom. She’s a liar.

  10. I have made this walk MANY times. I refer the whole process as “the chemistry set errand”. SIGH. I hope you find some answers after all of this fun.

  11. Ya’ll are so funny! Peeooping…but he’s right. We never have to think about it, sometimes it’s just a big fat surprise!

  12. Oh my word. My insides are hurting from laughing and from pity for you having to scoop your poop. Hope they find out quickly

  13. I read this post out loud to Cort because he has also done this Awkward Errand. But he didn’t put it in a brown paper bag making me think he is a masochist. Also? He did not have to endure “I will have to toss our your sample.” WHY COULDN’T THEY JUST PUT IT IN THE RIGHT TUBE?

    Please tell me the second catch and carry assignment went smoother. ZERO pun intended.

  14. Oh. My. Goodness. I am so impressed by your ability to mine the crazy moments of your life and turn them into award-winning blogography. If you ever see that first phlebotomist again, I can only imagine the talking-to she’s going to get.

    I hope they’re able to figure out what’s wrong, because I know this has seriously been a hard road for you, despite your humor through it all!

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