The Best Time I Got Fingerprinted

Yesterday I found myself at the Clay County Jail. No, I hadn’t committed a crime. The latest and most bizarre step in the MRC employment process was fingerprinting and a background check. It’s as if they don’t want criminals working in elementary schools. Shocking, I know. Needless to say, this was a first for me.

In a burst of self-reliance, I drove to the jail with only a vague idea of where I was supposed to go. I figured that it would be apparent once I got there. Not so, as it turns out. As I approached, there were signs directing me to the jail entrance on the other side of the building. However, what I found was a windowless metal door that was marked as the “jail visitors’ entrance.” A high, fenced-in area with basketball hoops stood a few yards away — a real life prison yard.  “Well, this can’t be right,” I thought to myself.

Back around the building to the police entrance. The doors were locked beyond the entryway with no signs of life inside. A large notice proclaimed that fingerprinting was indeed done at the jail. Great. I returned to the oh-so-welcoming “visitors’ entrance” and went inside. There I found another locked door. To my left was literally the area where people visit with inmates across glass partitions. I had to pick up a phone and tell someone what I was doing there. The woman on the other end said that she would be with me in a moment. “I have someone in holding,” she explained. As in, holding cell.

Finally an officer emerged and led me to a smaller building next door. Apparently other people knew that this is where the fingerprinting took place because there was already a line. The rest of the outing was fairly mundane. I filled out a form and had my fingertips pressed onto black ink pads. This building was almost cheery compared to where I had been before. The fact that men in orange jumpsuits seemed to be wandering freely through the lobby was only mildly alarming. I’m sure the nice police officers had the situation under control.

But kids, don’t go to jail. There are lots of depressing metal doors and glass plates between you and your visitors. And Lady Gaga won’t be there.

*This blog post is inspired by a series of columns on The Hairpin called Personal Bests.



Filed under Real Life

3 responses to “The Best Time I Got Fingerprinted

  1. Sheila

    Lady Gaga is pretty scary herself. I know, I know, showing my age again! What can I say? Mom

  2. Melinda

    I had to get fingerprinted as part of the study abroad visa process (for the FBI report). I just ended up at the St. Paul police station so it wasn’t that sketch. It was highly distracting though–they printed us on a machine so I kept watching the screen instead of answering her questions. No mess and I think I got to keep a copy of my records. Overall, they seemed pretty used to having students come in for study abroad programs and Peace Corps.

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