I found the purse I've been wanting for months. It's a gun concealment purse. It has a special pocket on the other side designed to hold a hand gun. For safety reasons, mainly while I travel by myself, I've been on a journey to get my concealed gun permit. A while back I took my gun safety course with my aunt and recently I got my handgun. To be legal I needed to get registered with the county sheriff's office and get a new driver's license. Today I took my cash and my other paperwork and made the trip to see the sheriff. Just pulling into the parking lot was intimidating. I've never had a reason to visit the place before, but the sheriff's office was the easy part. Fill out a form, show proof that you've taken the gun safety course and take care of the money transaction. After that was done, the clerk told me to walk down to the end of the hall, go through the door, make a right and walk down the sidewalk to the jail to get fingerprinted.
While on that walk I decided that the sheriff's office was not all that intimidating. Having to go into the jail was going to be the scary part. The gray concrete building was labeled with four big letters, J,A, I and L. I had to press a buzzer to get permitted inside. A burly voice came over the intercom asking my reason for wanting entrance so I stated my name and my purpose. I could then hear the lock release on the door and I could pull it open. I went inside to an empty room. No bullet proof window with another clerk to greet me, just a big open room with a small sterile type table sitting in the middle surrounded by three metal chairs. I chose the row of chairs against the wall. I sat there for a good five minutes trying to look around the room and take in everything without the person on the other side of the security camera that was attached to the ceiling laughing at me for my eyes being as big as saucers!
Everything in this room was monochromatic. Shades of grays surrounded me. Sitting in my hard gray chair I looked across the room at 5 large metal walk doors with no windows to peer inside. The first had Enter stenciled on it with black spray paint, the other four doors were labeled Exits 1, 2, 3 and 4. Another wall had two drinking fountains and two restroom entrances. The third wall had the door I had just came in through and a vending machine full of colas. My wall was lined with chairs. I was starting to feel like I was in an interrogation room and Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson from TNT's The Closer would walk through one of those four exit doors at any moment! She'd be wearing her pink sweater set, high heels, pencil skirt and carrying her large black tote bag.
But no, that was not the case, after another ten minutes of waiting and one more person entering the room to wait with me, I was brought back to reality when a voice came over the static intercom system stating that, "the person who is here for their CCW can come through the door marked Enter." I thought maybe they were wanting the other person in the room. I was there for my Right To Carry permit, I did not know what CCW stood for. The man who was sitting at the small table in the middle of the room told me politely that was probably my cue to walk through that big solid steel door. I scrunched my eyebrows at him with one of those looks that screams, huh, what are you talking about? He said, carrying concealed weapon and I immediately stood up and went over to the door. I must have been on camera because as soon as I reached that door it buzzed so I could open it!
I thought I would be going into another nicely carpeted room where I would sit down and someone would slide a ink pad across the table and I would press my fingers into it and make some fingerprint marks on a piece of paper, kind of like when you go to the bank and they want your thumbprint! But no, reality hit me in the face and I was rudely shocked to have just walked into the holding area of the jail. A high platform counter was on one side with vertical grab bars mounted to it to attach hand cuffed prisoners to. A sloppily clad woman was standing at this counter yelling through the phone line to her relative or friend that she would not be coming home tonight. Ahead of me were two more walls containing jail cells. Each one was tiny having its own large gray steel door and a 3' X 3' window butted up against it. A few were occupied with men. One was standing at his window, blankly staring at me while I was following a sheriff to the fingerprinting stand. In the middle of the room was a sunken pit with some bench type seating in it. Luckily the pit was empty!
My sheriff was at least 6' 5" and he was big and he was intimidating. He was nice enough but he talked to me in the same monotone routine way he would a criminal. His hands looked humongous clad in the purple latex gloves he was wearing. He had to ask for my driver's license and type in all the information I had given at my first stop (in the more relaxed environment of the sheriff's office). He then took my four fingers and firmly placed then on the glass of the scanner so all the identifying marks of my prints would show up on his computer screen. He did fingers, thumbs, palms and even the sides of my hands. All I could think of was jeez, he's going to make sure he gets a good imprint of every part of my hand that will touch a gun. After the prints, he told me to go stand against the gray cloth (which was on a gray wall, in an all gray room). He told me to look at the camera, then turn to my right and stare ahead and then turn to the opposite wall. Three pictures of me. Really? Three pictures of me standing there in my black dress pants, white cami, black and white flowered sweater and my Docker's slip on clogs. At least I blended in well with the gray "monochomaticism" of the jail I was standing in!
After I signed my name next to my prints I was then free to go. Free to retreat to the safety of my car where I could dig through my purse and find my hand sanitizer. Oh, before getting in my car, I had to deliver my fingerprint card back to the sheriff's office. I just wanted to get back to work, back to my desk, to my little safety nest. I never thought that exercising my right to bear arms would start off like today. I felt more like a criminal than a law abiding citizen looking out for the safety of myself.