I Can’t Put a Finger on it

Today we went to the Federal office in downtown Indianapolis to be fingerprinted as part of our adoption paperwork.  We had to pay $1.50 to park, spent a little time in the Homeland Security Immigration office, had our fingerprints recorded, and left laughing hysterically. Doesn’t make sense does it?  Federal offices aren’t supposed to be funny, neither is paperwork or anything else that came with this trip.  But it was, so here’s the story.  If you don’t find it funny that’s fine, but please help me out and insert the obligatory “you had to be there” at the end of each paragraph.

One of the many pieces of paperwork that we have to fill out to do this adoption thing is the I600A.  Once you send this in, they send you form with an appointment day for biometric fingerprints at the federal office.  The day on our forms: January 27th.  “But Jeff, it’s only the 12th?”  Your darn tootin it is.  But Sarah had found out from one of our newest adoptive parent contacts in the Indy area, that we could go any day and our appointment day didn’t matter.  Therefore, we decided to make it today at 2:30, and headed downtown.  Of course the day we pick is the first snow storm of the entire season.  No matter, we still headed down and got there without issue.  We pulled up and saw the main parking lot with a big sign, “Parking $5.00”.  We didn’t have cash on us so we pulled around front and parked on the street.  Sarah handed me six quarters ($1.50 for those scoring at home) and I got out and went to the pay machine.  Without much hesitation, I dropped in all six which gave us fifteen minutes for each quarter and a total of an hour and a half.  The last thing I wanted was to be up there waiting in line for an hour and twenty minutes and have to run out to feed the meter and possibly have to start all over again. 

Going into the building, we noticed that a lot of folks were walking out and we began to wonder if the office had closed.  But we weren’t going to not go up and see for ourselves, so up to the 4th floor we went.  There we found two “officers” (rent-a-cop security guards) at the door.  One was old, and the other was older.  They were both white haired, frail looking gentlemen that gave you no sense that the office of Homeland Security was terribly secure.  As we approached, the first ol’fella gave us a dirty look and asked harshly if we had an appointment.  Sarah said yes and provided our forms.  He took one look and said, “ON THE 27TH!!!”  Uh oh, the place just got more secure.

Sarah said, “But we heard that we could come anytime.”

“WHO TOLD YOU THAT?”

“Um, someone that was here recently for the same thing.”  Sarah said somewhat sheepishly.

Old guy’s irritation reached new heights with that, “THEY DON’T LIKE IT WHEN YOU COME ON A DIFFERENT DAY!  I WISH THEY’D STOP TELLING PEOPLE THAT!  I’ll go see if they’ll take you.”  Old guy number one marched off.  Old guy number two was indifferent; apparently he’d seen this before.  Sarah and I looked at each other with some worry that we’d have to come all the way back another time.  When Old Guy number one came back, we still had no idea what the verdict was.  That was until he gruffly said, “One of you behind the sign and the other one empty your pockets.”

At this Sarah stepped up to the table and started to unload her pockets and put down her purse.  I looked for a sign, didn’t see one so out of confusion I started to pull stuff out of my pockets and frantically look for the mystical sign of Homeland Security security.  I imagine I had to look kinda funny holding anything from my pants or coat pockets out in my hands and looking all over as if I needed some place to hide it.  Maybe Old Guy Number Two was watching and got a kick out of it, I’ll never know.  Finally I found the sign, and turned to watch Number One wave a metal detector wand around my wife.  She went to take off her coat as you would expect and he snapped at her, “LEAVE YOUR COAT ON.”  OK then.

After Sarah, it was my turn, which went without incident.  We were given a couple of forms to fill out and told to only answer a few lines and then told to sit down in a room with multiple rows of chairs and 3 numbered windows at the counter in front.  There we found out that our speculation of all the people walking out of the building was correct.  This part of the office had closed.  Not sure why they sent us in there, but here we are waiting in an empty room with lots of chairs and 3 counter windows with their blinds down.  The only other person in the room was a lady vacuuming.  We were rather confused since our hallway shakedown by the dynamic rent-a-cop senior duo had only led us to a deserted room.  That, and the lady vacuuming the floor didn’t look as if she doubled as a fingerprint taker person too.

Then looking out of the room, past the white capped twins, came a girl that looked in her early 20’s.  She wore black jeans and a top more suited for hanging out with friends than for going to work.  However, I knew this was our “fingerprinter” by her latex gloves.  But she also wore a scowl on face and walked all the way into the room where we sat.  I wondered if she would turn us away.  But she finally called our names and we jumped and said that we were Jeffrey and Sarah even though there was no one else in the room.  But we were going to get done what we came to do so we happily followed this grouchy young lady across the hall and through a door. 

She said, very curtly, “Into the room through the next door and sit in the chairs on your left.”  OK then.  The room we entered looked a bit like a basement, not well set up and lots of grey.  Sarah and I both made quick work of finding the chairs and sat down.  But before I could even sit back she pointed at me and told me to get out my license and to stand to her right on the mat in front of a computer.  At that point I wondered why she even had me sit down and how am I supposed to keep up with these commands?  But I made it next to her and handed her my ID.  After taking down my social security number she pulled out a spray bottle and held it over my hands.  “This is water” she said angrily, as if I was going to pull away and ask what she was spraying on me. 

Part of me wanted to say, “Oh good! I thought it might be lavender perfume and that just isn’t my sent.  Cucumber melon maybe, but lavender?  Not a chance!”  However, it was not the time for jokes.  She said to rub the water all over my hands, all over, as if it were lotion, all over!  She seemed to get more angry with me the more she said that.  So, to keep her happy I rubbed my hands together as if my life depended on it.  Even when she turned to her computer I kept going.  And when she finally turned back to me I made sure she saw I had not stopped.  That’s me, star pupil of an angry fingerprinting gal.  Meanwhile, Sarah was taken by another person to another computer and started on the same routine.

As for me, it was time for the fingerprinting!  I was commanded to hold out my right hand and I did.  OK reader, audience participation.  Go ahead and try that now and hold out your own right hand.  Did you have your fingers straight and pointed away from you?  Yep, so did I.  However, that is the WRONG ANSWER or so I found out from her next order.  “RELAX YOUR HAND!”  And I did, letting my wrist and fingers sag in an instant.  Whoops.  I stared at my own hand wondering how to relax it even more, but apparently it was indeed relaxed as necessary.  She took my hand and pushed it down on the scanner.  I watched my hand print show up on the screen in front of us and she quickly took the left and did the same.  Then she asked for my right again (hand was limp that time, star pupil!)  and she took each finger and scanned them individually, rolling them around to get a full print.  But in between fingers she rather forcefully pushed the scanned finger down and grabbed onto the next as if she was clenching down on the back of a rattlesnake. I almost laughed out loud as she wrestled my hand for a couple minutes.  I so badly wanted to say something, anything even it was just for my own amusement.  A few possibilities that ran through my head:

– So ya got tickets to the SuperBowl?

– Have you ever seen any fingerprints prettier than these?

– Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, your thoughts…

– Isn’t there an iPad app for this?

-So I see you dyed your hair black and then dyed a blond streak going down the side.  Were ya going for skunk there?  Because I’m seeing skunk.

When we were done shortly after we started, she handed me a clip board and said when I fill that out I could go.  It was a comment card (hilarious in its own right since the people we interacted seemed to hate us) and it had check boxes for service and timeliness.  I marked everything excellent without a second thought.  This gal was not happy and I wasn’t going to give her reason to do anything bad with all of my personal information she had in front of her.  She took the clip board and said to go back to the lobby and she (Sarah) will be out after you.  She then dropped a very fake sounding “have a good day” and I cheerily said “You too!”  This created the only glimmer of personality when she mumbled, “thanks”.  Doesn’t sound like much?  Well it’s not, but her saying that was like someone in a coma wiggling a toe.  It’s not much, but worth celebrating considering the source.

Soon after Sarah met me in the lobby and we started to laugh at how angry these people seemed to be.  Over all the whole experience was painless.  We just had to endure the anger of government employees and do what they told us.  But the anger they had, it was just incredible.  I suppose I should feel bad for them that they seem to be that unhappy, but since I was on the end of their collective artic cold shoulder I feel like I can take the time to laugh.  I got to think that is a much better option than to get angry back at them.  Plus funny blogs trump angry blogs every time. 

All things considered, it was rather easy and we walked out to our car with a full hour and fifteen minutes left on the meter.  I only over shot that by five quarters.   Just something else we laughed about on the way back home.

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One thought on “I Can’t Put a Finger on it

  1. you rebels you, going before your scheduled time…we’re getting ready to head down to Cincinnati on Wednesday to renew our fingerprints (hooray, waitlists…), hopefully our experience will be as much fun as yours (can’t wait to see what it looks like with three boys in tow), although perhaps without the drama 🙂

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