We’re away until January 2, but we’re reposting some of our favorite pieces from 2018. Enjoy your holiday!
Recently, for a background check for a visa, I had to get fingerprinted by an agent admissible to the FBI while I was still in France. No, we can’t fingerprint you, the website of the Embassy of the United States in Paris stated clearly. No, you can’t fingerprint yourself, the sites of the bureau-approved, USA-based channelers stated. Perhaps, I thought, I would gather my smirches—all those wasted on laptop screens, medicine cabinets, and eyeglasses—and dump them on a bureaucrat’s desk, like payment rendered in coin.
Instead, I fell on a National Fingerprint Collecting Clearinghouse technician named Eve Humrich. She has built a career on the fingertips of expats. I met her at her office on a mezzanine inside a squash club in Montmartre (though she travels between Paris, London, and Brussels for her clients). “I need to see your ID,” Humrich said. I showed my passport—using one type of identification to badge me into the realm of another. Humrich kissed each digit to a lubricious black pad, then onto an official paper card. With a small magnifying lens, she inspected the results: “These are nice and clear.”