Last night we scheduled appointments with our county sheriff's office to get our fingerprints done for foster parenting background checks. We were intending to actually set the appointment for the next day as we were just returning from a 4 day vacation in the woods and were slightly exhausted. However we were informed that the only time we could schedule that week was that same evening. We set the appointments and were told to be at the county courthouse at 8:00 p.m.
We arrived around 7:45 and found the courthouse building. We tried the doors and they were locked. So we went around to the Jail/Sheriff's office side, tried the doors and those were also locked. We sat down to wait, figuring someone would come out when it was time for our appointment.
8:00 p.m. rolled around and no signs of life. Eventually a lady came out and we let her know we were there for fingerprints, rather than letting us in, she told us to just keep waiting and she went on home. We stood there rather confused, until a police officer came out. We informed him of our purposes as well and he told us to use the phone by the door, as he made sure the door closed and locked behind him. By this point we were a little bit panicked trying to figure out what we were supposed to do. David went ahead and picked up the phone and talked to someone who buzzed the door and told us to go in and to the left.
Our slight panic subsided and we wandered in and to the left, well expecting there to be a desk, an office or someone waiting for us to the left. Instead to the left was the jail. A very dimly lit waiting room was as far as we could get. We found a phone in there too, but there was sign clearly indicating it was for prisoner phone calls only. I wondered out loud to David if maybe we got the wrong left and even went back to check. There were no other lefts.
After another 5 minutes of standing there wondering where in the world we were supposed to go, and getting worried that someone somewhere might be getting very impatient with the couple that was just supposed to take a simple left.
Finally a police officer came through the jail door and asked if we were there for fingerprints. We stood up to follow him, but he stopped me and told David to leave all his stuff with me except his ID. I had to wait as he brought David in through the jail door that had was buzzed open by someone in another room.
Finally they returned, and I left my stuff with David to be led through the maze of buzzing doors and past what must have been jail cells to an area where the was a handful of off duty cops chatting and hanging out around computers. Finally there was the giant finger printing machine.
My mind was completely befuddled at all the rigamarole just to get to this machine. Growing up in a third world country, I wondered whether it would even be so difficult to get to the president. I never would have guessed that a small in-the-middle-of-nowhere county would have such high security for their finger printing machine. Finally I got my fingerprints taken and was led back out through the maze of doors buzzed open by people in another room and was quite glad to go home.
I have had so many weird experiences in my life with security. As just a small child I remember being led past guards with rifles, machine guns and dogs that sniffed us up and down for drugs in Bogota Colombia. I also have memories of living in enclosed neighborhoods where the bottom of your car and trunk was searched for car bombs by a well armed guard before you could drive into your home parking lot (or the grocery store, mall, school or any other public lot for that matter). Yet I felt more intimidated by this experience than I did those times as a child. At least in those other circumstances the culture was one of hospitality and clear directions were provided of what was expected to get to the places you needed to go.
Our conclusions were that police are not in the habit of customer service. In fact their job is to make people feel very uncomfortable and intimidated. They most certainly succeeded at their job.
Life is an adventure, and the fun didn't end in the third world countries. I look forward to what other adventures God will bring us through as we embark on the new chapter of our story called foster parenting.
I tend to write blog posts right away while they are on my mind and then let them simmer in the drafts folder for a while so I can look them over and make sure I want to post them. Although this post refers to "today" or "yesterday" or such, it could be that the event happened a few weeks ago or more. In the weeks and months to come I am guessing that I will have lots of thoughts and stories to process. I process thoughts verbally or through writing, therefore I will be doing a lot of saving those thoughts for later. I figure I'll leave the posts in their present tense so that I don't have to go through and correct that as well.