It’s 10 p.m. – do you know where your fingerprints are?

One day some friends and I were talking about fingerprints. We’d been reading about yet another crook who’d gotten caught by leaving his at the scene, even though he’d tried to wipe everything down. We wondered what it takes to wipe away your fingerprints. Just a quick brush with a soft rag? Little spritz of Windex? A thorough and energetic wipedown with some elbow grease in it? I’ve read lots of novels and watched many TV shows about criminals obliterating their fingerprints after committing some crime or another, but I never really paid attention to how they went about it.

Since that conversation, I’ve started watching where, exactly, I’m leaving my fingerprints. Turns out the answer is: EVERYWHERE! So I started trying to avoid leaving any. I’m down to “way fewer,” but I haven’t hit “none” yet. Here are some of my strategies:

I now use the back of my index finger – the fingernail itself – to enter my PIN number at the ATM. And my knuckle to select from the screen whether I want to do a deposit, withdrawal, etc. I don’t touch anything at an ATM with my fingertips anymore.

I open doors in public places by cupping my fingers through the handle and pulling. The handle’s surface then hits the middles of my fingers, not the tips.

Before I pick up a menu I look at how it’s made: plain paper? Fabric? Laminated surface? Maybe I’ll just have my date order for me. (Leave his fingerprints!) If the menu’s greasy it’ll pick up fingerprints more easily, but I won’t be leaving any, ‘cause I won’t be eating in a restaurant with greasy menus. I mean, like totally … Yuck.

Every file folder in our office has my fingerprints on it.

As do my keyboards – at home and at work. And the mouse at each location. Innumerable disks and thumb drives. Jeez, I’m gonna have to do a lot more research that “how to wipe ‘em off” concept.

My trusty vehicle’s steering wheel is covered in my fingerprints. So’s the gearshift. Turn signal lever. Door handles, inside and out. Damn, that thing’s a veritable smorgasbord of my fingerprints!

All my keys. Home, work – well never mind where else, let’s just leave it at “all my keys.”

Does my Kindle screen have a fingerprint or just a smear? I slide my finger across the screen to open a book, which would leave a smear, but I just tap the right side to turn a page. So I guess it has both. Are there clear prints at the beginning and end of each smear?

After typing that sentence I picked up my cup to take a drink. Bingo! Fingerprints on the cup. They’re all over the place!

When I buy something, I hand over my fingerprints on the money. If I get change, the clerk gives me somebody else’s fingerprints back. And adds hers at no extra charge!

This is actually kind of creepy to think about. I hadn’t realized how many places I leave my fingerprints. Oh, and DNA! What does it take to leave DNA behind? Is there some in your fingerprint? You may have left a skin cell or two on that dollar bill. A single hair could have dropped from your head, unnoticed, and landed on a shelf at the dollar store. Place gets robbed, you get implicated! (OK, probably not, but you did leave your DNA there!)

I’m being more cognizant of my fingerprint litter nowadays. It’s interesting to notice places I used to take for granted (staircase railings, grocery store carts). But I’ll keep working on it and once I get the hang of not leaving prints, I’ll be able to rob pretty much any bank, gas station, or pawn shop without leaving a trace. Then, even if I’m caught on camera I can blame my doppelganger. That gorgeous, brilliant, vivacious criminal hussy who looks just like me but doesn’t leave MY fingerprints behind.

Yeah, officer, go find her. I bet she’s still in the area. I’ll be over here, on my new island, spending some money that, um, I had, uh, saved under my mattress. Yeah, yeah, that’s where I got it. No, it doesn’t have my fingerprints on it, either. Uh – oh, I know! – I ran it all through the wash before I stuffed it in there. Yeah, didn’t want some stranger’s DNA under my mattress, you know. OK, um, well, I’ve gotta run now. You keep lookin’ for that doppelganger, why doncha? I think her name’s Linda…

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