My sig other, Pamela, recently volunteered for a program where you mentor an economically disadvantaged, college-bound teen on their journey from the 8th grade to (one hopes) college.
(Since 8th through 12th grade coincides with the period where parents are most likely to consider shoving their little darlings in front of a passing bus, this might at first seem like signing up for five years of hell. But the job is made easy by the well-known fact that to teenagers, anybody seems cooler than their parents.)
Although Pamela's the ideal mentor for this sort of thing--grew up in a large, low-income family, and made it all the way through her PhD in geophysics with no financial support from her parents--she had a bit of trouble getting approved as a mentor. In fact, it took the better part of a year.
Why? Because they need to do a background check to make sure you aren't a child molester, murderer, or insurance salesman.
When you have a name like "Pamela Blake," you can't exactly Google it and come up with anything but confusion. (10,800 hits, including Pamela Blake the movie star; Pamela Blake, the MD and director of the Headache Center of the Northwest; Pamela Blake of the Women's Royal Naval Service in WWII; Pamela Blake of the Sweatlodge and Shamanism Circle...well, you get the idea.)
So, the obvious thing to do is run her fingerprints through the FBI database, right?
Yes, except for one little problem. Pamela doesn't have fingerprints.
Here's the promised factoid. According to the policeman in the fingerprint lab, "A lot of people lose their fingerprints as they get older."
Now, she hasn't exactly lost her fingerprints, at least not in the sense that you might lose your car keys. But after a number of tries, on a number of different days, there isn't enough of a distinctive structure to her prints to scan them into a data system for identification. It's as if she's worn them off from overuse. So be forewarned and stop touching everything.
Here's another interesting detail. While she was in the identity laboratory, a policeman entered with a black Labrador police dog. He was there to have a picture taken for his ID badge. But not the policeman's badge. The dog's badge.
Can anyone--even a dog's owner--tell one black Lab from another in a mug shot? (Description: 26 inches in height, 45 pounds, short, glossy coat, snout enlongated but square. Floppy ears. Hair: Black. Eyes: Brown. Teeth: White. If you see anyone answering to these particulars...)
Pamela was eventually approved by doing a background check on her name--which, as far as I can tell, means you send her name to the FBI, and they run it through Google.
Meanwhile, Pamela's off on a crime spree. Hey, the odds are on her side now: She's got no fingerprints.