Once upon a time

the naive young girl that I once was applied for a job with the City. They arranged for my Social Insurance Number to be assigned and sent to me and then sent me over to be interviewed. The job was as a municipal worker at the RCMP office answering telephones. Well, I didn't get that job, so I decided maybe I should get some further education. About 6 months later - hating school and ready to drop out, I received a phone call - "would you like to come in for another interview?" So I did, I got that job, packed up my school books and headed home to start this new job.

One of the first things they had to do was to fingerprint me. They had to be one file in case ... whatever might happen and they would need to ID the bodies left over. I couldn't start work until this was done, so I trotted right over and the Cst. on the desk took me down and printed me. I got a phone call the next day - prints were no good, could I come down again? This time the Sgt. printed me - still no good, next time one of the guys whose job it is to analyze things like fingerprints did it. Still no good! This time it was going to be done right - the S/Sgt was going to do it himself! No luck!

Now each time I had been down to be fingerprinted, I had to go down to where the cells are and past anyone who might be incarcerated for whatever reason. This was my first job - I was maybe 18 and had not really given up my shy tendencies and was actually a very sweet innocent young thing. So, I get another call to come back and this time, I am being printed by a real pro! This guy got prints no matter how cranky or uncooperative the person was. He knew his stuff! He got a beautiful set of prints, everyone was so happy - me especially! What was so special about this guy you ask? He was a volunteer guard. The cells in a police station at the time (not sure about now) were watched over by retired men (& women when necessary) that volunteered to do the job (I think they did get a stipend, but it wouldn't have been much). They had a panic button if any ruckus started and they pretty much just made sure that no-one choked, or hung themselves, fed them and helped get them booked into the cells, by helping with photographing and printing.

He must have been about 80 then, a thin wiry fellow everyone called Cowboy, he took me into the bathroom and told me to put my hands under hot running water and leave them there until they had warmed up. (I have always had cold hands) I was not to wash them with soap, just warm water. I came out and he held my hands for a minute and sent me back in - not warm enough yet. When I came out the second time, he declared that they were good now and with his gnarled rough hands ever so gently rolled my fingers through the ink and onto the paper and got a great set of prints. Then he had to take my mug shot - he had his own photo album with mug shots of all of the people that had worked there in the years that he was there. As RCMP members transfer every few years that was a large photo album.

I learned a lot about the idiocy of the general public in that job, lost my shyness, met some life-long friends and no-one would call me sweet or innocent after having worked there. I have some funny stories from those times which I will pull out from time to time and share with you. I was only an ME for about a year, but I did go on to be a CM (civilian member) for about 4 years at a different detachment, I will include some stories from then too.

Cowboy, where ever you are, you took good fingerprints! My thanks.

Good Morning All.


Tink said...

Wha, no stories? You're such a tease. ;)

Hilary said...

Sounds like that cowboy made quite the.. umm .. impression. ;)

Reb said...

Tink, just wait for them!

Hilary, yep, he sure did.

Jo said...

Cowboy sounds like a peach. That's interesting about the fingerprints, your prints must be very special.

Leah J.Utas said...

I had no idea that cold hands were hard to get prints off.

the Bag Lady said...

Now all the criminals will know the secret - keep your hands in ice water until you commit your crime...voila, no usable prints!

Stories, stories, we want stories!!

Good one, Hilary!!

Reb said...

Jo, I am not sure about special, so much as cold.

Leah, I was surprised as hell. I hope that that is one of the things that has improved over the years.

Sis - oh, the pressure...of a story.
Now I have to find a really funny one and it is just going to come out lame, I know it!

Mamacita Chilena said...

haha, he had his own collection of mug shots...must have been quite a coffee table conversation piece :)

Reb said...

Oh, I am sure it was! I never got the chance to see it, so I don't know if he had any stories about the various people to go with the photos.