It turns out I don’t have leave finger prints when I touch things.
I had to go the Rl Attorney General’s office, Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), to have them conduct a national background check on me. You’re probably thinking that I’m being investigated as a world-wide terrorist, or maybe cooking Meth, but it’s really just a requirement for working in schools (not very intriguing, I know). I’ve been avoiding it for months, because it’s such a hassle. As I’m currently in violation of the law by avoiding it for so long, now I risk being an actual criminal. So, I decided to go in on Monday on my way home from work.
It’s a big hassle to get there in downtown Providence and nearly impossible to find the time when they’re open and not on break. So, on Monday (after a month of trying to find the time) I finally made it with just enough time before they closed. I loaded up the meter with all my change (who knows how long I’d be in there, but I had an instinct that it wouldn’t be quick), but it turns out I only needed five minutes.
I learned right away, from the perpetually miserable clerk behind the bullet proof glass, that I could not pay the fee with cash or a credit card; they take a check only. Usually places refuse to take checks and insist on cash or credit card, but not the attorney general. They even have a separate sheet of instructions as to how to obtain a check or money order in downtown Providence. Evidently it is a common enough occurrence that people are completely surprised—dumbstruck, actually—that they can only pay by check. So, it’s a common enough occurrence for them to have a sheet of instructions to help people solve the problem that their ridiculous policy creates, but not common enough to warn people ahead of time when they visit the website to figure out how to get the background check in the first place. If anyone should take a check, it’s the police, because they can prosecute fraudulent check writing and they already have the complete background of the check-writing criminal from the background check they just did on the person. I tried my best, most charming approach and still the clerk wouldn’t budge, she just sat on her stool behind the glass—perched to rule over her domain—and pointed to the flimsy slip of paper explaining how a deadbeat could get a check from a pawn shop in downtown providence. She had to know, when she told me to do this, that five minutes after I left to get that check the Attorney General’s office would be closed.
A man with a gun on his hip (probably a sergeant) took notice of the commotion and came out from behind the glass and escorted me aside so the other unsuspecting people in line could conduct their business, which, by the looks of them, their business could have been any one of a dozen crimes. I was the only one wearing a suit and without a tattoo. The sergeant wanted my story (let’s start from the beginning, he insisted), including why a psychologist would need a background check (listen detective Stabler, not everybody is a suspicious character up to no good, so settle yourself). I finally got him to believe me (it was harder than it should have been because he kept looking me up and down to see what I was really up to), and he seemed to warm up to me (or at least he sympathized with me) so he gave me a package of “paperwork” to fill out, just so it wouldn’t be a completely wasted trip. I left knowing that I had accomplished absolutely nothing, and as I vacated my parking space a driver immediately pulled right into it to discover that I had left him a full hour remaining on the meter.
I returned two days later, and oddly enough, the clerk and the sergeant remembered me, but it was a higher-ranking official who took me back for finger printing. I’m pretty sure it was Bookman from Seinfeld, all business, no sense of humor (standing in front of the ominous machine, “what happened to the old ink pads?” I said, then smiled and nodded, kept nodding and smiling, he gave a dead stare for a slow count, then, simply “I.D.” please”.).
He told me to take one step forward toward the machine (soup Nazi style) and place my index finger on the glass. It would appear as a print in a designated square on the display screen, he told me, but it didn’t, not even a piece of a print. He told me to press harder, so I did, but this revealed just a small sketchy patch. Annoyed, he marched over to where I was standing, pulled a glass cleaning kit out of the draw and meticulously polished the surface of his special machine. Then he grabbed ahold of my right index finger and pressed it down himself, as if a girlie man psychologist might not have the strength to push it as hard as he wanted. The print that appeared was less than 50% complete, and when he tried the rest of my fingers he got the same result.
“For crying out loud you don’t leave any finger prints!” He gave me a look that made it seem like somehow I was at fault. “It’s not like on T.V., you know,” he said, as if explaining the ineptitude of his prize finger print machine. “Everyone thinks it’s so easy to get a print off any old damn object at a crime scene. That’s the way they make it look, but there’s other people just like you who don’t leave prints. You don’t have the coating on your skin that you need to leave prints.” I thought he would question me further to see if I had any other super powers, but instead he left to retrieve some special fluid.
A minute later Bookman returned and applied a mysterious fluid to all my fingertips, then he personally pressed each one in the designated square. Sure enough, the prints appeared as clear as could be and now I am in the national data base. So, with my prints on file in every state in the country, my chance to be a successful criminal is very limited. Of course, without the special fluid my prints are nearly invisible, so… you never know.