A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges

I went back to school last week. Which meant a trip to the doctor for a TB test. After that, a quick stop in the school office to get this year’s photo badge created. And finally, the run across town to the district office to have myself fingerprinted.

Here in our school district, all parent volunteers must produce evidence of a TB test. I’m not entirely sure they can keep a parent out of the school, if they turn out to be TB positive, but they test you, just the same. 

The Health Department is a recommended source for the test. That's where I had my test two years ago. Picture the DMV--with needles. Not awesome.

As in many public buildings, everyone in the school must carry an official photo ID. Many of the teachers wear them on a lanyard. Same thought goes through my head, every time I hang that badge around my neck like a dog collar: my tongue hanging out of my mouth, panting. “Look, I’ve had my shots!”

And finally, you must submit to fingerprinting

The fingerprinting is my least favorite item on the Back to School list.

Turns out, I have very finely textured and dry skin. Every time I go in, they slather jelly like lotion on my hands before rolling my fingers over the electronic screen, again and again and again. They are required by law to attempt to register my fingerprints at least twice.

For three years running, my electronic fingerprints have been no good.

This makes me one of the few people in the world, born with the qualifications for jewel thievery.

I don’t leave fingerprints.

Who knew?

Every year, the school has to send my name into the FBI, instead of my fingerprints. Just in case.

I’ve heard it’s done to “keep the children safe.” Hardened cynic that I am, I suspect child safety is a somewhat distant second in purpose to legal CYA maneuvers. But I follow the circus, just the same.

I think we engineer these checklists of safety items to make us feel safe. As if a simple skin test can tell if someone is healthy or dangerous. As if the faces we don’t recognize are people we can trust because they  wear a photo ID.

As if everyone who commits a crime, leaves a fingerprint behind.


Cathy Perkins said...

The pseudo-safety measures (don't get me started on the TSA) won't stop a determined or deranged person. I keep telling myself it would be worse if we did nothing. I'm not completely convinced.

Clare London said...

Hmmm. I can see my hubby already bristling at what he would see as an infringement of his rights and Big Brother tactics *sigh*. I know none of us should feel threatened if we haven't done anything wrong, and we all want to co-operate with law enforcement - but I'm darn glad they don't do that over here! The nearest we get I think is having to take a CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau) for jobs that involve sensitive interaction eg with children.

Fascinating post!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Gosh you're cynical. You must be a crime writer... :-)

Maureen A. Miller said...

I went to visit my 11 year-old niece at school in Florida. By the time I was through signing in, I think those people could have probably purchased a house under my name. :)

J Wachowski said...

@ Cathy --I'm the same way Cathy. Would it be worse? Hmmmm. When statistically the ones who hurt children are overwhelmingly family members/people who are known to them? Or does it make us complacent as it settles our nerves...

@Clare Yes. It is a little Big Brother-y. And weirdly child-like also? For example, when I asked "What do you do if I'm TB positive?" No one in the office could say.
"So why do we do it?"
"Because they said we have to."

@Marcelle I know, right? I immediately started thinking of situations under which someone could commit crimes and leave no fingerprints and/or obtain badges under sketchy means and use them to convince others they were "safe."

And I knew you all would understand... :)

J Wachowski said...

I'm laughing, Maureen--and cringing with you.

Florida--I'm betting it's totally legal for someone to walk into a school with a gun in their purse. As long as you filled out the form at the front desk and wear your badge.

The rules just don't seem to get at making people safer? They just give the illusion of safer....That's where stories start to percolate in my mind.

Rita said...

My grand daughter school was in desperate need of volunteers. I was spending a month there and offered - no deal I had to a resident of the state.
I sooo agree about the rules. It’s all for the perception of safety and truth be told so someone can cover their a**.

Shirley Wells said...

Good grief, I'm glad they don't do that in the UK.

Great post. I shall now be thinking about storylines involving people who don't leave fingerprints. :)

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