by Melinda Gallo

Getting fingerprinted

Today was another morning that I went outside to run some errands. I used to never do much in the morning, but it's been so hot lately that it's the only way to survive. I left the house a little after 9AM to get my impronte digitali (fingerprints) for my cittadinanza italiana (Italian citizenship). Because the local questura (police station) is only open to the public in the mornings three days a week, I decided to go to the main questura in via Zara.

I hopped on my bici (bike) and parked right in front. I find everything so much easier now that I have my bici. I'm secretly hoping it won't rain much this year so that I can continue riding around town. The questura was much quieter than it used to be. Before it was filled with people, like myself, waiting in line, requesting information, and either renewing or obtaining a permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay).

I waited to talk to a woman in the relazioni pubbliche (public relations) office to find out where I needed to go to get my impronte digitali taken. She told me that they don't do them at the questura and so she made a phone call to the Gabinetto regionale di Polizia Scientifica per la Toscana (Forensic science police laboratory for Tuscany). They told her that if I went there, they would do the impronte digitali for me immediately.

She told me that the building was in Piazza Indipendenza and even explained how to get there. I arrived and went to the main door where there were different campanelli (door bells). I picked one by chance that sounded the most reasonable. The woman told me to go around the corner to the next door.

I walked down the street and didn't see another door, so I reluctantly went back to the front and rang again. I had a feeling she'd be impatient with me, so I prepared myself for a long speech that I would rattle off to her. "Mi scusi signora, ma non vedo la porta. Vedo solo il cancello. (I'm sorry Madame, but I don't see the door. I only see the gate.)" " la prima porta dello stesso palazzo (It's the first door of the same building)," she responded. "Ma vedo solo un cancello. (But I only see a gate.)," I insisted. "Lei deve andare alla prima porta dopo il cancello (You must go to the first door after the gate)," she responded quickly. I thanked her and quickly went around the corner. I passed the cancello and realized that it wasn't the same palazzo, but the next one.

I waited in the sala d'attesa (waiting room) for over a half an hour whenl two carabinieri (military police officers) escorted in two personaggi (individuals) to get their impronte digitali taken. The other people in the sala d'attesa were getting theirs taken for their permesso di soggiorno.

I asked one of the officers who worked there and was outside smoking a cigarette why those two personaggi were there. He told me that they were lavavetri (window washers) and added, "Le cose si sono peggiorate qui. (Things have gotten worse here.)" He didn't go into details, but I understood what he meant. "Uno diventa razzista dopo un po'...non lo ero prima. (One becomes racist after awhile...I wasn't before.)" he confessed. It is something I've heard a lot of people, both Italians and non-Italians, have shared with me lately.

The officer asked me what I was doing there and I told him that I needed to get a certificato penale della FBI (FBI ID record request) in order for me to reinstate my cittadinanza italiana (Italian citizenship) because my nonni (grandparents) were born in Italy. "Allora, sei italiana? (So, you're Italian?)" he said. "No, ancora no...devo fare la pratica. (No, not yet...I have to file first.)" He then told me, "Sarebbe stato meglio se mi avessi detto prima. Avresti potuto passare davanti a questi personaggi. (It would've been better if you had told me earlier...you could've gone in front of these two individuals.)"

I smiled and told him that I thought I should just wait since there were so many people in the sala d'attesa. He took one last drag of his cigarette and talked to someone inside. I heard him say cittadinanza italiana and another ispettore (inspector) popped his head around the corner to take a look at me.

A few minutes later, the ispettore was covering my hands with ink. I had brought the paper that the FBI had requested that my impronte digitali were to be put on, and he pushed my fingers onto the paper into each of the boxes. I told the ispettore that it was the first time that I had my impronte digitali taken. He just smiled, but didn't say anything at first. Suddenly, he said, "Ti sei sbagliata sull'anno di nascita! Devi mettere 10 anni in meno. (You made a mistake on your birth year! You need to take off ten years." "Magari! (I wish!)" I told him.

When I went to wash my hands, I asked if I could leave my borsa (purse) on the chair since my hands were all black. I went to the bagno (bathroom) where there was no more soap and tried to scrub off the ink as best I could. I came back and the same ispettore handed me a paper towel to wipe off my hands. I looked at the chair and saw that my borsa wasn't there. I looked at the three guys and they were laughing. I finally spotted it on the one guy's desk and smiled at them. "Era un piccolo scherzo (It was a little joke)," one of the guys said when I picked up my borsa off his desk.

The man who took my impronte digitali saw that I kept on rubbing my hands together to get the ink off, so he told me that he'd take me into the office to wash them off again. I had to wait for two girls to write up a letter stating that I went to their office to get the impronte digitali taken and have them take photocopies of my passport as well.

By the looks I got when I entered the building, I figured that I was probably the only civilian inside. He told me where to go to wash my hands and then sat down in one of the offices. When I finished, I walked back to the office where the ispettore was sitting, and stood in the doorway. He was watching the TV that was on. It looked like some Italian telefilm (TV series), but I didn't recognize which one as I don't know them all.

After they gave me all of the papers and returned my passport to me, the ispettore walked me to the cancello and said goodbye to me. It wasn't until I got home that I realized that I have to go back to get him to sign the FBI document with my impronte digitali on them. I'm almost embarrassed to go since I already told them that I'd most likely be coming back in a few months for my permesso di soggiorno.

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