The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.


It’s the Department of Motor Vehicles, so no one is really crossing any items off their Bucket List around here. The lack of enthusiasm shows in glum faces, distant stares, the contagious yawns.  A woman from Nepal stands by a set of chairs and stretches.  Sometimes she steps forward, raises her arms, making silent movements. She’s making two old ladies very nervous as they wait to have their photos taken for updated licenses.

A man returns to his wife, who sat in the photo-waiting area while he went up for his portrait.  She greets him, “What was the fuss?”

“Oh. She said I’ve been working too hard.”

“What’s that?”

“I’ve got no more fingerprints–look at that. She couldn’t get a read on ’em, said I’ve been working too hard and wore them all away.”

“Well well,” she moves for the door and he follows.

As he opens the door for his wife, first he takes it by the handle, then he puts his palm on the glass. He studies his palm print as she shuffles by.  She moves ahead. Trailing her, he studies his fingers, hunting for prints, looking for proof of what he leaves behind.

–Department of Motor Vehicles, Northern Colorado.

northern colorado, longs peak

Home Sweet Home.

11 comments on “Prints

  1. Jonathan Caswell
    November 29, 2013

    Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  2. joannerambling
    November 30, 2013

    Ok what does having fingerprints have to do with getting a licence, we have our photo taken for our licence here but nothing to do with our fingerprints………..

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      December 1, 2013

      Hi Joanne, I guess it’s photo and prints. I have to do prints when I return to the states as well. 😕 Not too crazy about it, myself. Although, my mom looks like Doris Day, so Ms. Day could easily steal her license and her senior discounts. 😀

  3. Al
    December 1, 2013

    Next thing you know we’ll be required to give DNA samples, which as I think about it, isn’t a bad idea.

  4. starknotes
    December 2, 2013

    Such an incredible concept- the man worked his fingerprints away. Not quite as hyperbolic as working one’s fingers to the bone, but SUCH a powerful image. Thank you for sharing this for us to ponder!

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      December 3, 2013

      Thank you so much for your kind comment! I found it so amazing how he kept staring at his own hand. I wish I’d seen him before he tried to give his prints–just to see if he’d paid much attention to his fingers beforehand. 🙂

  5. Brenda
    December 5, 2013

    Wow, and his wife was totally oblivious to how shaken he must have felt. Poor guy.

  6. michaelwatsonvt
    April 17, 2015

    A marvelous description of a trip to the DMV!

  7. davecenker
    April 21, 2015

    It’s not the fact that we leave an imprint on every life we cross that is meaningful. It’s recognizing this fact that leads to meaningful thoughts and actions. Beautiful message Paige, thank you for sharing your always thought-provoking stories 🙂

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