The Glorious Fingerprint

It’s been a month since leaving California and relocating to Murcia, Spain to work as an English teacher.

To anyone who has read my blog before, sorry for the delay between posts, it’s been a busy month of teaching/looking for a place to live/drinking affordable coffee.

If you’re new here, welcome! Care for a steaming cup of literary Chai tea?


I woke up this morning feeling slightly bittersweet. Friday’s usually are a day off from work, but today I had to get out of bed at an early hour because at 9am I had a scheduled appointment with the Spanish Immigration Office (La Extranjeria).

The overhead sky started its routine transformation in coloration, going from near black to faded jeans blue, as I biked across Murcia with my breath visible through morning air. I didn’t want to visit La Extranjeria today, because the lines are horrible and one small mistake in your paperwork results in a waste of everyone’s time. Despite my lack of desire, I rode a public city bike to the center, then hopped a number 22 bus to the office, which is located in a neighboring town.

Waiting for me was an appointment to get fingerprinted by the National Police of Spain. This was the very last step that needed to be completed before receiving a Spanish ID Card. An ID Card would grant me legal permission to stay in Spain for the duration of my contract (June) and also allow me to cut loose a seemingly gigantic string of paperwork.

Since this past June I’ve been fingerprinted three times, requested three background checks, driven to Sacramento for an apostille, looked for an apostille courier in San Francisco, and have been the La Extranjeria four times since arriving in Murcia last month. I partially blame myself for all of the extra steps required to finally make it to this moment, and partially to just random circumstances out of my control.

Walking into the immigration office, talking briefly to the man at the check-in desk, and being handed a number before waiting, I wouldn’t have been surprised if something was missing from my fingerprint application. I wouldn’t have been surprised if a guy came up to me and said that my ID photo wasn’t the right size, or that the guy doing fingerprints had taken his morning coffee and wouldn’t be able to see me. I was ready for any possible outcome to unfold.

The wide, rectangle shaped waiting room with cardboard textured walls was sparsely filled with people from most likely many different nationalities. Scanning for an open chair, prepared for a long wait, I plopped my backpack on the ground and made myself comfortable.

There was still plenty of time for something to go wrong.

Except this time it didn’t.

Within seconds of taking a seat my number started flashing on the flatscreen television screen and in a couple eye flickers I found myself seated opposite the government employee who would be ending my escapade of immigration loop jumping. His coworkers were making jokes about something, and I tried not to draw any attention to myself. Maybe if I chuckled or made a side comment in a heavy American accent then he’d tell me to come back again in two weeks.

He scanned both of my index fingers, made a remark about the kind of paper I used for the ID photo, and fatefully stamped my documents in straight-faced approval.

He said to come back in one month for my ID Card, and I walked out of the building feeling like I just finished a movie that should have ended a long time ago.

All of the crosswalks immediately turned green as I ran to a number 22 bus that by coincidence had just arrived at the corner. I felt like Spain was telling me that I finally passed its test.

No more red tape, no more fingerprints, no more lines.

It’s possible that the bus ran into some morning traffic as we returned to Murcia, but to be honest I wasn’t paying much attention.

The sun was shining, the day had only started, and life was good.


Thank you for reading, I appreciate your time and hope that you’re having a nice day.

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