Monday, December 30, 2013

Biometrics adventures

I like the word "Biometrics." It sounds really cool, and I associate it with androids and artificial body parts. However, when I say, "I went to have my biometrics taken" it's nothing that interesting. More along the lines of fingerprints and a photo. 

My green card requires renewal, and I guess they want to check that I'm still me.

The USCIS provides an appointment. It comes in form of a physical letter with time, date, and location. If someone needs to reschedule, this happens through a written letter and a new written notice. This means that they decide how many people will appear at a certain immigrations center at a certain time.

Reasonably, they would also know how many people work at said center, and how long it takes to process each visitor.

This sounds like the easiest logistics in the world; there are few unknown parameters. Whoever plans it has full control over everything except unexpected disease or death amongst the employees.

I still had to wait an hour and a half.

I was prepared to wait for a little while, even though I didn't anticipating sitting perched on a hard chair for ninety minutes. I knew cell phones weren't allowed, so I brought my Kindle, wanting to re-read Unchanged by Christy Elkins.

So, I'm sitting there surrounded by signs saying "No Cellphones" and people playing with their cellphones. One guy seems to be texting, one is listening to music, and a couple of girls are playing with iPhones.

I have my Kindle touch and I am reading a book. The woman behind the counter calls out, "Ma'am, no cellphones."

It's clearly not for me, so I ignore her and read on.

"Ma'am. No cellphones!"

This time I looked up, and found her staring right at me.

"I'm sorry, are you talking to me?"

"Yes. No cellphones."

"This isn't a phone, it's a Kindle."

I look down at the book.

"Ma'am! No Cellphones!"

What the hell? 

"This is a Kindle. It's not a phone, it doesn't make calls, and it doesn't take photos. It's an electronic book."

"No Cellphones."

She looks about to call the numerous and armed guards on me, so I roll my eyes, turn off the Kindle, and tuck it into my purse.

A guy in the next row is reading a thick paper book. He snickers, "Next time, bring one of these."

I grumble, "It's a friggin' e-book reader."

After a long, long, long wait I start talking to the girl next to me. Once it's my turn, the procedure takes a grand two minutes and I can leave. Hopefully, their computers will determine that I'm still me.  Definitely a worthy way to waste a day's vacation...

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