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If You Can’t Be On Time, Be Obscenely Early

, , , , , | Working | CREDIT: theoryofrelativetea | September 13, 2021

I get a summer job at my university working for professors that I have worked with before, and they ask me last-minute to teach a summer workshop to ninth- and tenth-graders.

So, with less than two weeks before the camp starts, I have a bunch of paperwork to do first, including “clearances” that say I can work with kids. One of these is an official FBI check, for which they need my fingerprints. I need to do the physical fingerprinting right away in order to get the result in time. Luckily, I am able to book a fingerprinting appointment for that Friday — booked twenty-four hours in advance, as required — which will be just barely enough time to get the result.

That Friday, I catch the subway to campus and it’s atrociously slow. I’ll admit that I should have planned for this; the subway here is always behind. I end up slightly late getting to campus, so I literally run to the police station and enter the front room exactly five minutes after my appointment time. I know this because, as I step through the door, I feel my phone buzz with what I later learn to be a “Your appointment has been cancelled” email.

I speak to the cop behind bulletproof glass inside and I learn that my appointment was cancelled; apparently, they are automatically cancelled if you’re not checked in within five minutes. Obviously, this is outrageous, but I’m usually a patient guy. I ask if I can book a new appointment. That’s no good, since it would have to be Monday or later.

I grab a coffee from across the street and return to sit inside the police station. I try and solve this with some Googling while I slip into a more and more frantic state of frustration. I can’t find anywhere in the city that can fingerprint me before Monday.

But here’s what really pushes me over the edge. While I’m sitting there, at this point thirty minutes past my appointment time, someone else comes in for fingerprints. She shows up five minutes early. They take her in immediately and she’s out before her appointment was even scheduled to begin. The entire thing took her about two minutes. I point out to the cop behind the glass, as politely as I can, that clearly someone could see me right now because her appointment is already over. Why can’t I have the current slot? But the cop insists that since my appointment was cancelled, my registration info is “no longer in the system” and I can’t be seen today.

That’s when the idea comes to me and I confirm with him that showing up early is not a problem, because they would have my appointment and registration info in the system. You see where I’m going with this.

I quietly sit back down and take out my phone. About ten minutes later, I calmly approach him again and say, “Hello, I have a new appointment to be fingerprinted. I’m about seventy-two hours early.”

I have never seen such an exasperated sigh in my life. But the cop checked my new confirmation number and everything was in order. Within ten minutes, I was walking back out after getting fingerprinted.

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