A few months ago, I was driving the winding roads of Massachusetts to get fingerprinted with the Department of Education. I was already fingerprinted in New York state, but I was starting an internship in western MA this past summer and they needed my prints as well.
It took about an hour and a half to drive to the building where they were to take my prints digitally. I traveled with my husband for support because I was still practicing my driving skills after a hiatus of not driving for almost 9 years living in NYC.
We arrived and it was pouring rain. It was pretty chilly, too, if I remember correctly. My body temperature is better regulated in the colder weather.
The man taking my prints started with my right hand. Everything went pretty smooth with that. But as we switched to my left hand, the warmer room temperature caught up with me and my hands started profusely sweating. It was incredibly uncomfortable as the man had to hold my hand and press each finger down on the glass screen.
Each time one of my fingerprints was captured by the screen, it registered immediately if it was rejected or accepted. It was all downhill from here at this point.
Reject. Reject. Reject. Reject.
On and on, each finger was rejected, tried again, and rejected again. It was terrible. Uncomfortable and embarrassing.
I desperately asked the man if I could go to the restroom to wash my hands or take a break for a minute so that I could try to get my hands to dry up even for a small amount of time. He wouldn’t let me leave. I’m not sure if that is because of security or something, but there is nothing I could have done. He kept saying it was okay, but it clearly wasn’t okay. My prints were rejecting for about 10 minutes and my hands were just getting worse.
Finally, he gave up and told me that it was likely I’d have to come back to try again another day. My heart sank. I wasn’t local and it would be challenging for me to come back again any time soon. Even if I did come back to try again, there’s a good chance I’d have the same sweaty issues.
I left the fingerprinting room to leave with my husband, but I just broke down crying in the lobby. It wasn’t fair. Why can’t I do something as easy as getting fingerprinted? If you have fingers, you should be able to have fingerprints read. Why can’t I just be normal?
I was very upset that day to say the least. It all ended up okay, I guess. I never got a call back from them, so I guess they somehow accepted my fingerprints and got enough from my right hand? I’m not sure, but I’m not in a rush to find out what happened.
This is not the first time I’ve had trouble with having my fingerprints read. I’ve also had trouble with the ink fingerprinting and the digital fingerprint entry to amusement parks. It’s not easy and more than once has ended up in me crying from embarrassment.
My plea is for people designing digital fingerprinting machines to take sweat into consideration. This is a huge issue for people with HH and even people with slightly clammy hands! Can we put our heads together to make these machines work for us?
One thought on “Fingerprinting Nightmares”
I’m Lina from Singapore. Like you, I’ve been suffering from HH since primary (elementary) school. It doesn’t help that I’m living in a hot & humid country. My palms, feet, armpits are sweating profusely as I write this.
What you wrote about fingerprints in this post resonate with me. At the airport customs here, you have to place your thumbs on the scanner. I always have issues similar to what you encountered – the machine can’t read my prints. Once I was escorted by four security guards to the central office because they tried to read my thumbprints thrice (the number of times allowed) but failed.
To say that such an experience was exasperating, embarrassing is an understatement.
I just want to thank you for this blog. While I know I am not alone in trying to manage HH, your stories make it real – they jolt me to realize how HH sufferers out there resort to various means towards successfully managing whatever that they do.
Thank you Caryn!
(Yes, my laptop got wet too! And yes, I always keep the towel, my best friend, beside me)