Swan Song of the Signature

“The doctor, the writer, the garbage collector,
felt up and fingerprinted waiting for the train.”
—Metric, “The Police and The Private,” Live it Out (2005)

larson-jewelers-fingerprint-engraving-ringMy doctor and I have the same initials and virtually indistinguishable signatures. This has led to a few awkward moments with new pharmacists whenever I’m picking up something interesting (e.g., Percocet, Vicodin). They give me this look and I know in an instant what they’re thinking: this guy’s signing his own prescriptions. But after the inevitable phone call they’re extremely apologetic. This may not be a problem for long because signatures seem to be on the fast-track to extinction.

Planet-PlutoI was fingerprinted for the first time in my life today: at an amusement park! Yes, that’s right, I was fingerprinted at La Ronde. Such a surreal experience. They no longer ask for signatures. Only photographs and fingerprints will do. One day, in the not-so-distant future, we’ll being saying to our grandchildren: “You know, when I was your age, Pluto was a planet and signatures were a valid form of identification.”

—John Faithful Hamer, From Here (2015)

About John Faithful Hamer

John Faithful Hamer is a college professor who still can't swim, drive, or pay his bills on time. His sense of direction is notoriously unreliable, yet he'd love to tell you where to go. His lack of practical skills is astounding, and his inability to fix things is renowned, yet he'd love to tell you what to do. His mismanagement of time is legendary, as is his inability to remember appointments, yet he fancies himself a philosopher and would love to tell you how to live. He wouldn't survive in a state of nature, of that we can be sure; but he's doing quite well in the big city, which has always been a refuge for the ridiculous, a haven for the helpless, and a friend to the frivolous.

One thought on “Swan Song of the Signature

  1. This is very disturbing John. LaRonde is part of SixFlags. A large Multinational that can probably fingerprint hundreds of millions of people over the course of the next 10 years. Mostly young people. Young people that will one day become older people. Where is this biometric database? What will be it’s ultimate use? SixFlags was bailed out of bankruptcy protection a few years back… does the new deep pockets investments want this information for something else…. Yes, call me a conspiracy theorist. Fine. But the “ease of traffic” argument doesn’t work for me.


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