Friday, February 22, 2013

Fingerprint me

Scan all your fingers, separately, one by one, three times.. Then roll them. Not too fast, not too slow. Then put your entire hand on the surface. Easy enough, right? When you have a disability all those small task you wouldn't give a second thought become major obstacles. It may sound simple- when I was applying to the Florida Bar I needed to have my fingerprints read into their data base. I think immigration was using the same system. Lord knows, I've had the very same problems because nobody made any provision for people like me. They used a machine connected to the computer that looked like an oversized slide projector. Getting it down so I can reach it was challenge enough. Those things were usually on the table, with a cable too short to put it somewhere else and lower it for me. To even start, one person would have to grab it and hold at angle for me, while other person dealt with my hands. Everything was fine until we got to my spastic right hand. To put it simply- my wrist and fingers get stiff and tense. The more nervous I get, the more it intensifies and I can't control it. The more I can't control it, the longer I'm stuck in front of the machine hoping this time it goes through. And with every attempt I get more nervous, because whatever we're trying, is not working. It's not as simple as putting your fingertips on the glass- you have to do it at the right angle, at the right  speed, pressing at the right moment with the right amount of force. With rolling I had people working the machine turning my fingers for me, side to side, because I couldn't do it. But that's not all. Not only do your images for every finger have to match with each other, but they also need to fit with the capture of all five fingers at once. If we don't get it, we have to do it again. And again. A few times it felt like we've scanned all the fingers, but then it didn't go with the image of the entire hand. More grabbing, more pulling my hand, more moistening my fingerprints for a better read. Thankfully, despite my spasticity I can separate my fingers. But that doesn't help if they get tense I just can't control it. I'd assume people were usually in and out there in ten, maybe fifteen minutes. With me, it was usually an hour, an hour and a half.  And it was something that was getting me worked up even as I was going there. Not only did I have to go get my fingerprints captured for USCIS with every immigrant petition I filed all the way to Jacksonville. Once I had to go back because although we thought we got it right- the system thought my prints were unreadable. The same thing happened with the Florida Bar. And imagine this- with immigration it's their day job, that's all they do. With the Florida Bar the scanner machine was typically in the back of a gas station or in one case, a furniture store. This is something they did for a quick and easy way to supplement their income. Little did they know, but they bared with me for as long as it was needed to get the job done.Same thing happened when I took the exam- they were fingerprinting me, this time in ink, but when it wouldn't produce a proper print, we'd have to do it over. And you tell yourself: just relax your hand, just relax your darn hand, but there is nothing you really can do to turn off your mind and have them do with your hand what they will

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