Bureaucracy and the Great Dirty Martini Experiment of 2017

Bureaucracy and the Great Dirty Martini Experiment of 2017

Last spring, I decided to get a job. I decided to become a “guest teacher” in The Girl’s School district. Guest teacher (what ever happened to being a “sub”)? There is a precedent for this. Back when I was in grad school for my teaching degree and needed an income, I started subbing. I remember I walked into the Regional Office of Education (ROE), paid a minimal fee, showed my transcript, and got my sub certificate. Boom, I was ready to work. Some schools required fingerprinting. I just had to go to my local police department, and they’d take care of it for free. In a week or two, I was working.

Boy oh boy, have things changed! I had to pay $50 to the state board of ed to apply for my certificate online (because it’s been so long since I held a valid cert.). That took a few weeks to get processed. Then, I had to pay $65 to register my certificate with the county where I’d be working. Then, it was a couple more weeks before the school got me in for an interview (Interview for subbing? That was a first for me). They told me that I had to be fingerprinted at the ROE and to pay $45 for the pleasure. I expressed my dismay at what used to be done for free by the police, but they tried to persuade me with the tidbit that it’d be on file forever and good for any school in the county, so I’d never have to do it again. Well, I’m only doing this at one district for the time being, because I have to be on The Girl’s schedule, so I wasn’t convinced, and decided to go the free route.

I called the police department, and they will still do fingerprinting, but I have to provide the card. Where the heck does one get one of those?! The school doesn’t provide it because they are pushing for the digital version. I could have ordered a stack of them online, but then I found out that the FBI portion of the background check must be digital anyway. Ugh. I gave in, went to the ROE to get fingerprinted, prepared to pay.

When I walked in the door and explained that I was there to get fingerprinted, Penny (the very grouchy lady behind the desk) asked, “What for?” Really, why else would someone walk into a Regional Office of EDUCATION to get fingerprinted? “For substitute teaching,” I replied.  I was signing in on the guest log, per the clearly displayed sign, and Penny asked me, “Did they tell you it was $45 cash or check only?” Um, no. No one told me I couldn’t use my debit or credit card. I was $5 short on cash, so I asked if there’s an ATM in the building. Nope. I could maybe go to a gas station down the street. How helpful!

As I walked out the door, I said, “You know, it’s no wonder there’s a shortage of subs with all the hoops we have to go through just to start working.”

I needed to go to the grocery store that day anyway, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and get cash back at the checkout there. Then, I headed back to the ROE. I walked in and said, “I’m back.” Penny was much nicer, and apologized, saying she didn’t know why they make it so difficult. I handed over my $45 cash and then we had a nice chat while she rolled my fingers across the glass, until the screen kept telling her the prints were of low quality. As she made me initial a document to acknowledge the low quality of the prints, she said, “You may have to come back. But don’t worry. You won’t have to pay the $45 again (I thought, ‘No kidding!’). You’ll only have to pay $10.” I looked at her, and said, “Woah, woah, woah. I’m not paying again. Let’s get this right the first time.” She tried to then convince me that some people don’t have fingerprints. When I pointed out her error, because after all, how would I unlock my phone using my fingerprints if I didn’t have one (nevermind that I could see my prints on her computer screen). She was incredulous that such sorcery is possible. Oh, lady, crawl back into your cave.

She “tried” a couple of more times to get my prints to an acceptable level, but I swear, she purposely moved my fingers to get a “movement detected” message, then quickly shut the thing down. She had no intention of getting good prints out of me at that point.

Meanwhile, though I was eligible to sub based on the fact that I had the fingerprinting done (despite not having results back – how much sense does that make?!), HR was understandably anxious to make sure I wasn’t a bad person. Two weeks later, I got a letter in the mail (TWO WEEKS – they have my email address, for goodness sake! Why do they insist on using snail mail?!) telling me that my prints were not sufficient quality for the FBI portion of my background check, and I had to return within 30 days to be reprinted at the cost of the aforementioned $10. At the bottom was a person to contact if I had any questions, so I did. I sent an email relating my dismay at the expectation that I’d pay for her employee’s inability to perform this simple task. I included the point about unlocking my phone, as well as the fact that Homeland Security had no trouble fingerprinting me for Global Entry, so clearly, this is not my fault. I requested that they waive the $10 fee or refund my $45.

After I hit send, I decided I needed a drink. A good, stiff drink. I’d always thought martinis sounded quite glamorous, and a dirty martini sounded really sexy. Plus, I am a huge fan of olives. Still, I’d never tried one. Now was as good a time as any. So, I armed myself in the liquor department with both gin and vodka, plus some extra dry vermouth, and a jar of olives, and headed home to try this out. Since The Girl was sleeping out that night, it seemed like a very good opportunity to try multiple versions. First, I tried gin. I followed a recipe that had me doing 2 parts gin to 2 parts vermouth, plus a splash of olive brine. I decided on shaken, not stirred, a la Bond. It was strong, but the taste was meh. I added more and more brine (and filled it up with extra olives), but I just couldn’t seem to get it dirty enough to be appealing. I didn’t want to be wasteful, so I finished it off. I kind of hoped it’d grow on me. Nope.

Next, I repeated the experiment with vodka. Same result. I was definitely feeling more cheerful, though, so it wasn’t a total loss. Oh, and I ate the rest of the olives.

2nd in the Great Dirty Martini Experiment of 2017

I heard back from the ROE the following week. They agreed to waive the fee (much to Penny’s disappointment when I went for repeat printing). Someone else did the  fingerprinting and it came out just fine. I’ve been happily subbing ever since.

Fast forward to November. I’ve been laying off the nightly adult beverage during the week. Well, I’ve been laying off the wine during the week. But, after a particularly challenging day of parenting, I thought perhaps it was a good time to revisit this dirty martini thing. First, I tried 2 parts gin to 2 part vermouth, plus about 5 T olive brine. It was ok, but I wasn’t in love with it. Next, I tried it with just a splash of vermouth and twice the olive brine. Bingo. Not my favorite drink, but far more drinkable. Turns out, I’m really not a fan of vermouth. Tee martoonies is my limit, so I waited until the next night to try it just as dry (means less vermouth) and dirty (lots of olive brine), but with vodka. Bingo! I have found my dirty martini.

Perhaps, down the line, I’ll experiment with a twist.

My biggest takeaway? No matter the size of the jar of olives, I will consume the entire thing in one night (two, if it’s from Costco).

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