IDENTITY CRISIS

I haven’t posted anything recently, felt like nothing much blog-worthy has happened…until today.  I just came home from “the incident” and sat down to write because it’s just too bizarre not to share.  Let me back up a bit.   The kids have been back in school for about a month and now that everybody’s closets are clean, the junk drawers are organized and I’m as caught up on laundry as I’ll ever be…..I’m finding life on an island can be a bit, well, boring.  So I started thinking about something that I haven’t thought about in over 15 years… a job.  Started wondering what I could do that might occupy a few hours of my day and put some cash in my pocket while being flexible enough that I could still be home by 2:00 to pick up my six-year-old daughter.

I perused Craigslist, wasted a bunch of time looking at work-from-home sites, toyed with the idea of starting a web-based business, etc.  Nothing seemed right.  And then I got an email from our school district stating that they were in dire need of substitute teachers.  Such desperate need that they just received “emergency substitute” approval from the state, wherein they are now able to hire substitutes that are not credentialed teachers, as long as they have a Bachelor’s Degree, obtain an Emergency Substitute Certificate from the State of Washington, and fulfill all other requirements.  Now this was perfect.  I had considered being a teacher when I was younger, I love kids, and I could pick and choose the days I wanted to work.

I immediately went about filling out the district and state applications.  One of the requirements is (obviously) a fingerprint/background check.  Of course, living on this island, nothing is convenient and the nearest state facility that does this is about an hour from my house.  I made an appointment and drove there this morning, anxious to complete the last step in the application process.

Upon arrival at the facility, I was told to sign in and fill out some paperwork..   A few minutes later a young man in his early twenties arrived and stated that he was there to get fingerprinted for his Emergency Substitute Certificate – same job as I was applying for.  I couldn’t help but wonder about agism in the workplace…was I going to be competing against fresh faced recent grads for this position?  People that didn’t have to go crazy trying to unearth their college transcript from a dusty box it had been sitting in for 20 years?  But then I thought….no, I’ve got this.  I have three kids, have volunteered in all their classrooms, surely I would be considered more qualified for a position like this just based on life experience, right?

I hear my named called by the elderly woman at the counter.  I walk to the other side of the desk where the fingerprint scanner is.  She tells me to relax and not to watch because when people watch they try to position their own fingers on the machine.  So I relax my hand and look away while she bends my fingers into position.

I hear the scanner go and then she says, “Oh.  They’re blank.”

I turn to her, “I’m sorry, what?”

“Your fingerprints.  They’re blank.”

“Uh….what does that mean?”  I respond.

“It means you don’t have any fingerprints.  You’ve worn them away.”

I laugh politely at her joke.

She looks at me deadpan.  “I’m serious”, she says.  “Look at the screen.  See the mark your fingers left?”  She holds up a sheet of paper.  “This is what normal fingerprints look like.  See the difference?”

I stare at her.  “I’m sorry, I literally don’t understand what you are telling me.  You are saying I’ve worn away my fingerprints?  How is that even possible?”

“Well, sometimes this just happens when you get older.  You know how old people always drop stuff?  It’s because they’ve worn away their fingerprints.  Your fingerprints give you your grip.”

“How fucking old do you think I am?!” is what almost fell out of my mouth.  Seriously, I gave BIRTH only 6 years ago!  At 44 I should hope I’m not even halfway through my life yet!

At this point I literally looked around because it occurred to me I might be on Candid Camera.  Was Alan Funt going to jump out at me any second?  Then I realized that Alan Funt probably hasn’t hosted Candid Camera since the 1970’s and I thought, “Shit, maybe I AM old.”

The lady then held up a bottle of this clear lotion and told me to rub it all over my fingers.  Was this some magic fingerprint reappearing potion?  I start rubbing in the lotion and then she says,  “I’m sorry, I gave you too much.  Here, rub some on my hands.”  To me, the biggest germaphobe ever.  Ewww.  So now I’m rubbing my hands on the woman’s hands and it’s all slimy and I am freaking out.

Then she tries rolling each of my fingers, over and over again, on the machine, to no avail.

Meanwhile, Mr. Early Twenties is watching this whole scenario in amusement, looking all smug sitting there with his young, fingerprinty hands.

Finally I say, “I still don’t understand how this is possible.  Don’t all human beings have fingerprints?”  I mean, isn’t that one of the things that makes us human…opposable thumbs and fingerprints?

She says, “Do you do dishes?”

“Well, yes…but I am not, like, a dishwasher by TRADE.”

“Do you garden?”

“Well, yes, but I really just started that a year ago….”

I mean, everybody does dishes and lots of people garden.  I have never heard of anybody without fingerprints!  So I ask her what I’m supposed to do now and she says she can submit my scans but I will most likely have to come back again and if it doesn’t work then the police can sometimes work around it but “they don’t like to.”

So I walk out, glaring at Mr. Early Twenties, who I swear gives me a “poor old lady” look of pity.

I get home and immediately google “lose fingerprints” and the first thing that comes up is a 2009 article from Scientific American about a guy known only as “Mr. S” who traveled to the United States from Singapore and had no fingerprints.  And I’m like, “Seriously?!  I am now Scientific American worthy freaky?”  But eventually they found that the reason that guy had no fingerprints was because it was a weird side effect of a cancer drug he was taking.

The next thing I read is that the career most often associated with fingerprint loss is brick layer.  Nope, that doesn’t apply to me either.

After much thought, I wonder if it’s possible if my obsessive hand washing over the years has caused this oddity.  And if that’s the case, then my brother definitely doesn’t have any fingerprints either.  Actually, that would probably be the case with much of my mother’s side of the family.

So as I sit here and type this with my fingerprint-less hands, I figure given my unusual condition I’ve got two new employment options.  Late bloomer career criminal or CIA agent (“Ms. J”).  Either one I figure will pay more than the sub job.

Take that, Mr. Early Twenties.