Shared Stories: Fingerprints

Dora Silvers is a real New York kinda’ girl.  In this essay on fingerprints, her humor is dry, and some of her stories would fit right into a Seinfeld episode on TV. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns

By Dora Silvers

When my twins were born, their footprints and thumbprints were on their birth certificates.  Also my thumbprints.

When my brother Ben was in New York, a man was running down the street and gave him a heavy typewriter. Then the man hopped on a waiting bus and disappeared. A policeman tapped my brother on the shoulder.

He said to Ben, “I have to take you in, you have stolen property.” Ben looked around, and there was a patrol wagon.

Ben told him, “Someone gave it to me and then got on the bus.”

The officer insisted, “We have to take you in, and that is it.”

When they got to the police station, Ben asked if he could call his father. My dad said he would call cousin Max who was a lawyer in New York.

After Ben was fingerprinted, Max showed up. Max asked to talk to the owner of the shop where the typewriter was stolen. The owner described the thief as short and with gray hair. Ben was tall and had dark hair. So Ben was released and cousin Max treated him to a dinner at a fancy restaurant.

My daughter Nancy had just been hired at a bank in the New Accounts department.  After work, Nancy changed into her leotards and sweatshirt She was going to the gym to work out.

As she was leaving, her boss called her over and said, “Nancy, you have to go to the Sheriff’s station and get fingerprinted. That’s a requirement at this bank.” So Nancy drove to the Sheriff’s station where they took her fingerprints.

A week later, as she was again leaving work in her gym outfit, her boss said to her, “Nancy, your fingerprints did not take. You have to go back and have them done over.”

So she drove to the Sheriff’s station again, but this time there was a bus and men were lined up.  She told the officer, “I have to get fingerprinted.”

He said to her, “Get in line!” She was so embarrassed at having to stand in line with men who were wearing handcuffs. 

When she got to the front of the line, the deputy said, “Are you back again?” All of the men laughed and said, “Atta girl!”

When she told this to her friends who were waiting for her at the gym, they all thought it was funny and laughed. Nancy was embarrassed.

When I got hired as a secretary at McDonald Douglas, my boss told me, “Next week an agent from the FBI will come and interview you for your top security clearance because you will be handling government documents.” Then he handed me several forms to fill out. The first form was AKA, which means “Also Known As,” so I put in my maiden name.

The government agent was real cute, with blond hair and the nicest blue eyes. I gave him my forms and he said, “I will have to fingerprint you.” First he took my thumbprints, and then my thumbprint and my index finger and my middle finger.

I looked into those blue, blue eyes and asked him, “Why?”

He said to me, “In case you open your boss’s top drawer.” I did not know if he was kidding, but a week later I did get my security clearance. And I never did open my boss’s top drawer.