Folks, I got fingerprinted. It was the first time ever for me. Don’t worry, I haven’t shot anybody or robbed any banks lately. I hadn’t even been pulled over on a “routine” traffic stop. Nor am I planning a terrorist attack on the local golf course. I do go out to the school house on occasion and apparently somebody there has got me marked down as an “unsavory character”. Or perhaps the principal discovered my name on that infamous “person of interest” list!
I was a little disappointed that they no longer use ink. I was picturing a stark room where men dressed in khaki uniforms and yielding Billy clubs forced my fingers against an ink blotter. I was all set to yell “You dirty coppers, I will get you for this!” a la James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson but I didn’t feel the nice young lady who was “fingerprinting” me would remember either of those noted gangster actors.
I did observe the cast or “boot” on her foot. Good golly, you don’t suppose I’ve got to stick my toes into that contraption? Sometimes this modern technology has a way of turning on you……. It looked like a miniature copy machine, but you never know. My job was to lay my digits one at a time carefully and correctly on top of the glass. It took some kind of x-ray picture. And I was doing pretty good until we got down to the little finger on my right hand. That finger has always been one of my least favorites. It was the one I stuck in the pencil trimmer in the second grade. David Mark would take a bite of it every time I slammed him over on his back practicing my West Japanese Step-Over-Toe-Hold. I broke it the first time in that big fight up at the Skyway Grill in 1962. Somehow it got caught against the knob on the backdoor as I was frantically attempting my get-a-way before one of those big guys could throw me over the jukebox.
About the fifth time the red “reject light” came on my palms begin to perspire. You don’t reckon I’ve got someone else’s little finger by mistake. Could I be a mutant? Don’t tell me I sharpened all the ridges off back in the second grade. I passed college algebra, Latin and advanced calculus and I’m about to fail fingerprinting 101! The green light flashed on the sixteenth try but by then I was having second thoughts about this whole process.
It might just be there is too much information out there already. You know what I mean? We’ve about taken the big brother theme too far. I don’t know exactly who all is watching whom! They’ve already got my social security, credit card and bank account numbers. I filled out two next-of-kin and beneficiary forms last week. My insurance company shares (probably for a fee) my “personal file” with every clothes, candy and fruit mail order catalogue industry in the whole world. Those OnStar people know where you are at all times. It’s getting harder and harder to tell the good guys from the others. So what in the blue blazes am I doing opening up my personal “digit-tized” stuff for complete exposure to the entire eye-balling world.
I quit perspiring and went to sweating!
We don’t have any idea how advanced this fingerprinting thing really is. Debra was gently rolling the ring finger on my left hand across the screen but I was five hundred miles and fifty-five years away. Mr. Pat Houston kept a big jar of jaw breakers on his front counter. Lacking the required 2 cents at the time, I “borrowed” one of those big balls. I made sure no one was looking as I deftly reached in and grabbed a red and green colored one off the top. My right thumb made contact with the glass. It left a perfect print! I was way too busy “innocently” moving down to the baseball card section to wipe off the evidence. You don’t suppose they could lay that crime on me today? My only hope might be the greasy fingers of a million other jaw breaker junkies overlaying my print since that fateful summer morning. If I’m lucky, that jar got broken when Mr. Pat sold out and the barbeque people moved in.
I’ve told you before it was Bobby Brewer’s idea to climb the water tower. I just went along because he couldn’t carry both cans of paint. He did most of the lettering. It took us over two hours and we must have left a thousand prints up there. The town fathers were not pleased and the whole thing stirred up a bigger commotion than even Bobby figured on. I kept my mouth shut and prayed my Father wouldn’t put two and two together.
The problem is that water tower it still standing today! And there’s no way there could be many hands touched where Bobby and I climbed that night! I don’t care how many years have passed. And, idiot me, just volunteered to be fingerprinted. I might as well go back up there, walk into the police station and raise both hands right now!
How fool proof is this fingerprinting thing anyway? What if I have a left index finger that matches the same finger of a serial killer on the loose in western Montana? Or my right thumb print aligns exactly with a female rap singer from New Jersey? The experts say that can’t happen. But some of those same experts said we’d never put men on the moon and that wrestling is fake.
I feel like “The Fugitive” in the old TV series……