Gray greenish clouds hang over Anchorage announcing their intend to drop a snow load onto the city. The wind blows from the Cook Inlet pushing the clouds against the glacier and snow covered mountains that seem to build a wall around the non-coastal boundaries of the town. The clouds seem like a lid on a crock pot leaving no sky between the mountain tops and them. The air feel moist and much colder than it actually is due to the wind chill. Waves push sea-ice towards the shore. The city life seems on hold with hardly anyone on the icy streets. Even though it is around local noon and equinox the clouds dim the light down to twilight.
Two officers stand at the security equipment of the immigration office talking about the college hockey game last night while sipping steaming hot coffee in the low lighted entrance hall. The door opens and a couple dressed in shearling coats comes in. The woman looks about 15 years young than the compact blond blue eyed man in his mid to late 50s. He has wide shoulders and is tall for his generation. He looks like a mid-west farmer’s youngest son who left for Alaska when his older brother got the farm. The woman is petite and ethnically ambiguous – Hispanic, may be Mediterranean or mixed. Her outerwear outfit looks Russian with the hat, large high quality tan leather bag, leather gloves, printed wool scarf, woolen tights and heeled ankle booties.
One of the officer goes back to his desk while the other places his coffee mug onto the screening equipment while replying the couple’s greetings with “pretty well, how are you?” The couple places their coats and bags onto the band that starts with some quirky noise. She passes thru the screening door, while he has to go back again because of the belt buckle.
“Who’s the immigrant” asks the officer in the back. “I am” responds the woman, walks towards him and hands the officer a letter from Homeland Security, her green-card, and passport while her husband goes thru the screening door once more.
“Come on in” the officer says to the woman. They walk into a large office with about six other officers sitting in front of their computers. “She is here for digital fingerprints. Who can take care of that?” “I can” another officer answers, takes the paperwork from his colleague and leads the woman to the scanner, types in his password and then her data and starts the scanning process.
Her thumb pops up on a 33 inches (84 cm) screen in the size
of a toilet seat. The print looks like a landscape of mountain ranges, valleys and deep gaps. “Lady, you do a lot of dishes!” says a young officer passing by the scanner on his way to the coffee machine. In contrast to all the other officers, he wears a thick knit sweater over his shirt.
“I never do the dishes” she replies while the door opens and the officer, who brought her in before, enters followed by her husband. “They are from the Interior” the entering officer says while handing his colleague at the scanner her husband’s paperwork. “They all have fingerprints that look split like that. It’s the dry and cold air over there. Be happy you got an Anchorage assignment.”
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Photos: G. Kramm
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