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April 13, 2017

The Power of Attorney was Rejected

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Popular on Facebook (shares) — Tags: — admin @ 9:15 pm

Booking the Job
It’s all too common for the public to think of notaries as being sources of free legal advice. “But you know so much more about these things than we do”. And, more to the point: “Will this Power of Attorney allow me to access the safe deposit box?” The first statement was flattery, hoping to “open the notary up a little”, the second an invitation for you to provide a legal opinion. I keep reflecting on the words of the Chief Clerk at the New York County Clerk office. “You check the ID, give an oath, and notarize nothing more”. Foolishly, I asked a “can I also” question. “If you don’t understand – nothing more – perhaps you should hand in your commission now”.

Recalling the stern admonition from the Chief Clerk, I tell my client that I am not permitted to answer their question. What I can do is check the Power of Attorney to see that the Principal, Agent, Monitor and Successor Agent areas are completed correctly. I can also check to see if specific powers were initialed correctly. As a professional notary, I add embossing to each notarization, a requirement for use in some jurisdictions and courts. Of course my clients blithely ignore my words. They again ask: “Will this Power of Attorney allow me to access the safe deposit box?”

The question falls under the “suitability for use” category. Will what I have do what I want? My consistent answer is first “I don’t know” and second: Only the ultimate recipient is able to answer that question. That entity, be it person or organization makes that decision. I can proceed now to notarize the Principal and the Agent (there were no Monitors or Successor Agents). Or, you can submit the blank Power of Attorney form to the “ultimate recipient” and ask them if your submission will accomplish the purpose you intend. As is usually the case; my client did decide to go ahead with the Power of Attorney they downloaded from the Internet.

Processing the Job
Fee was collected prior to meeting in the reception area of the prison. The incarcerated was to be the Principal, my client the Agent. I had mentioned the need for proper ID with my client; he showed me two driver licenses. One was his, the other for the prisoner. We proceed with the facility entry procedures; only carrying into the secure area the Power of Attorney and a pen. About an hour and a half later, Power of Attorney properly notarized for both Principal and Agent; after we retrieve personal property from the check-in lockers. They really don’t like an embosser going into the facility.

Aftermath (failure)
As related to me by my client: The safe deposit box clerk sent me to see an officer. Sorry, that form is not acceptable to the bank. We have our own Power of Attorney form and its use is required. I see you had it notarized, however, the wording does not meet bank requirements. Just a moment, here it is; this is the form you need to complete and have notarized. That clearly was not what my client wanted to hear. The prison is located two counties north of Manhattan.
So, what went wrong? As is often the case, there was blame enough for both of us. The client assumed a Power of Attorney is a Power of Attorney; any of them will do anything. I was only told that notarization of a Power of Attorney was required at an upstate prison. With my mind on the ID issue, I did not press for how the document would be used. It seems “a bit much” to ask the Agent what powers were to be granted by the Principal. I “could” have asked “how would it be used”? It ended up as a redo, I lowered to 2/3 fee; supposedly with the right Power of Attorney form, from the bank; all went well.


December 27, 2016

The Care and Feeding of Mentors

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Popular on Facebook (shares) — Tags: — admin @ 11:01 pm

The Care and Feeding of Mentors
Jeremy published an excellent article on finding a Mentor – http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16793 OK, you followed the advice and found one willing to work with you. Now what? That is the essence of this post.
“I’m in a hurry, I don’t have much time in my schedule to devote to study or research; the bottom line is this: I want to know specifically, using my Notary License, exactly what you can do to make me rich”.

Believe it or not, that is essentially what several Mentor requesting notaries have asked me. A common theme is that they want the “fast path” to the Big Bucks. They perceive their Notary status as having the deed to a gold mine, if only they could find the exact location of their mine, to pick up the nuggets lying about for the taking. In a similar manner, when I go to the NY State Dept. offices (which administer Notary and Real Estate Broker license tests) I often hear the prospective Brokers discussing the “killing” they plan to make by selling the Empire State Building – “that commission alone will set me for life”.

There is nothing wrong with having high aspiration, but it’s real life that it also requires a large amount of perspiration to “get there”. Delusional can be defined as a false or mistaken belief or idea about something. I don’t use that word to be critical, but rather to stress the point. A Mentor devotes their time, and shares their skills and knowledge; generally without compensation. That is not always the case. I had a request to teach how to process some rather complex documents – it took a full “hands on” day; and I was paid accordingly. However, that is a rare exception.

Most requests for me to Mentor come via email and start with a liberal dose of flattery. OK, it makes sense to say something nice to someone you want to do you a favor. As covered in the above mentioned blog; I really don’t want to create competition “across the street”. So far, that has not been the case. It’s a heavy lift to train someone to be a Signing Agent from “scratch”. So I usually suggest they take a course on the subject and really learn the material. There are several sources for “basic training”. It’s just too time consuming to cover the Venue, ID requirements, Oath, and such. When I was learning to fly an airplane, initially I read about theory, and then flew simulation on my PC, graduating to renting a plane and an instructor. Getting in the plane with instructor and not knowing anything would be inefficient.

The following scenario has repeated itself several times over the past decade. I receive the request, with flattery, to help someone who wants to grow their business. Rarely is there a specific question included, just the general goal of self improvement (scores intent points) and, of course, the desire for more money. That’s fine with me – they are, in my mind, a “contender” wanting to better themselves. So, with my very first email reply I want to determine if they are willing to really WORK for their goals.
I give a “homework assignment” – it’s always the same. I ask that they read my last dozen, or more if they wish; blog entries. Then, citing which blog they are referring to: ask 12 detailed questions that relate to an issue or concept in that blog that is unclear or should be expanded upon. Why? If I’m to spend time being a true Mentor, I have to “know” the person I am working for (yes it’s working for). They have to show me that they really will put “skin in the game” and work for their own benefit. I also want to see their writing skills and get a sense of what they consider important to learn. This dispels the myth that I have a bucket of knowledge that I can simply pour in their direction. As Jeremy mentioned, there is a vast wealth in the blogs, of which my stuff makes a minor, but often useful contribution.

Sad to say: to date not a single “student” submitted their homework – not one! My intent was never to “chase them away” – If I wanted to do that I would simply reply that I was too busy. Beginners: let your prospective Mentor know that you are willing and able to WORK hard “with” them, for your gains.


December 23, 2016

Flashpoint — Notary job for a hostage with a multimillion dollar contract

Dave had a multimillion dollar contract for a very rare biotech machine that was one of a kind. He was to meet the buyer in a high rise downtown. But, Dave was taken hostage in the lobby 10 minutes before the signing. The subject (Tom) needed the machine to save his brother who was dying of a rare disease.

TOM: (Pointing gun) Drop the briefcase and come with me.

DAVE: I can’t, this is a very important contract.

TOM: I’m afraid you don’t have a choice.

SECURITY: Help, 911, there’s a man with a gun. Send a strategic response team immediately!

TOM: Drop your cell phone and slide it over to me. Now, Dave, I need that machine you’re selling for my sick brother. I have no choice. I have to do this. Let’s go upstairs to where the buyer is waiting.


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The Opposite: How George Costanza changed his Notary career

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Compilation of Notary sit-com episodes


(The two of them go upstairs)

NOTARY: Hi, I’m the Notary, and by the way, did you find me on 123notary.com?

TOM: I wasn’t the one who made the call.

DAVE: Yes you were.

NOTARY: Oh great, can you write a review for me on my listing.

TOM: This is not the time to be talking about reviews (waving gun around.)

NOTARY: Oh, did you want me to notarize your gun?

TOM: NO. I want the biotech machine to save my dying brother.

(ring ring)

TOM: Don’t answer that. I’ll get this.

GREG: Hi, this is Sargeant Greg Parker from the strategic response unit. I understand you have a hostage up there.

TOM: Yes Greg, we do.

GREG: That was a smart thing to do, taking a hostage. That really changes the game.

TOM: What are you, a professional negotiator?

GREG: Yes Tom, that is what I am. I’m here to try to work out your situation. Would you mind telling me your name?

TOM: Um, I can’t. I didn’t want to do this. I just need the machine to save my dying brother. I’ve never done anything like this (waving gun) Stand back!

GREG: Is the machine in the building where you are?

TOM: They won’t tell me where it is. And even if I have it, I don’t know how it works.

GREG: Sounds like one of the guns our team uses that’s in storage. I don’t know where it is, or how it works. If I press the wrong button, only God knows what will happen.

TOM: What?

(crash — Jules rams the door and barges into the room)

JULES: Put your weapons down!!!!

ED: Put your weapons down…

JULES: There’s only one weapon, so let’s use the singular.

ED: Copy that!!! Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to put your gun down.

NOTARY: I have a seal, should I drop my seal? I think of it as kind of a weapon.

ED: Yes, put the seal on the table.

GREG: Do you have the solution?

ED: I have the solution, and Jules has eyes on the subject although he’s nothing much to look at.

JULES: Hey, I like him. It’s just that I’m (oops) not allowed to talk about them… Sam… since that’s a conflict of interest.

GREG: I’ll pretend that I didn’t hear that so I don’t get fired. Now, put down the weapon so that we can talk this over.

TOM: I need that machine.

GREG: That’s not going to happen. We can’t give you that machine. But, if you don’t put your gun down, we’ll have to use lethal force against you. Do you understand that? They your brother will die and so will you.

TOM: No, I won’t!!!

GREG: Okay…. Scorpio


GREG: What was that?

ED: It seems to be a gas explosion in another part of the building.

TOM: Okay, I’ll put my gun down. I don’t want to die.

JULES: You came inches from it.

DAVE: You know what, I can let your brother use my machine. But, only under my supervision.

TOM: You will? Gee thanks!

ED: And you can see the whole thing from a monitor — in jail. Put your hands in the air. You have the right to remain silent.

NOTARY: I can give him an Oath of silence. That’s one of my duties as a Notary Public.

Ed: That won’t be necessary.

NOTARY: I also do weddings and bar-mitzvahs.


December 17, 2016

Who is involved with 123notary behind the scenes?

When most of us see a website, we see the front end and are absolutely oblivious to what goes on behind the scenes. The fact is that running 123notary involves all types of work that you might not be aware of. Here is a breakdown of what gets done and who does what.

123notary is hosted by Connectria and has been for eight years. They keep the site online and help solve technical issues with the servers. You might be surprised to know how much it actually costs to host 123notary. The cost is about $1500 per month and that is before a single hour of programming is billed.

Programming 1999-2010
123notary has had many programmers over the years.

Mark — was our main programmer and he built most of the functions on 123notary.

SzeWan — worked with Mark and did a lot of the phone lists and other functions of 123notary.

Peter — The original programmer for 123notary was actually Jeremy’s dad Peter who is a retired Ada Compiler programmer. Peter worked on much more sophisticated projects during his day and figured out web programming from the ground up. All of Peter’s work had to be rebuilt in newer languages such as ASP, and once again ten years later needs to be rebuilt in a newer version of ASP. When does it end?

Programming 2010-2016

InvitraTech — after Mark quit, which was a huge tragedy for 123notary, we used some programmers in India who we had used on another project. Due to some technical reasons logging into the server, we had to transfer programming to someone in Phoenix.

Phoenix Programmers –Unfortunately the guy in Phoenix had such a temper problem we had to cancel a very critical migration the day it was scheduled. We tried many programmers after that, but found them to be either incompetent, or to be unwilling to work. After that, it many months of trial and error to find another programmer who I liked and who would be loyal to us, and about two years of paying for two servers to finally get the migration to go through since I was so busy (and frustrated.)

Fred — Now, we are laying low on programming and Fred does small fixes for us. Fred was responsible for finally completing the migration and got it done very smoothly I might add.

Brent — In addition to Fred, Brent and his team help us out with fixes from time to time. This is a very long list of programmers. I think my life would have been easier if I could have found one who would stick to the job. Maybe I should have learned programming.


Carmen — has been with 123notary since 2003 which was the year our business started to really pick up. I remember sitting in the car in March 2003 answering a sales call and my friend (ex-friend) tried to get me to shut the phone off. I explained to him that my business is finally taking off, and why stifle myself? After a few months of the phone ringing off the hook which was a welcomed form of over-work after years of poverty — I came to my senses and realized I needed help. So, in 2003, I pleaded with Carmen to get her on board. She was very resistant at first believe it or not, and then developed a love and loyalty for the job which has lasted until today and hopefully for many years to come. Carmen became full-time with 123notary in 2005.

Jeremy also does outbound sales from time to time.

Adine, Wendy, Sally, and Leah have also done sales, although they all got busy with other things and decided not to work for 123notary anymore.


123notary’s blog became very popular around 2012. Instead of the world ending like the Mayans claimed, 123notay’s world got filled with interesting articles. 123notary was able to find a few amazing writers to help out. Ken does writing mostly about technical and business advice issues. Since he is an accomplished Notary, it is easy for him to write about the finer points of Notary marketing, pricing, and documents. Jeremy does a little of everything at 123notary and writes the majority of the articles. Andy is a professional TV and screen writer who wrote for Cheers, Seinfeld and more. Andy helps write comedy articles for 123notary and also helps with idea generation. Andy’s blog articles became hits and we have a folder for him in our Guest Bloggers category on our blog.

So, who else?
Mrs. Meao helped 123notary guard its working quarters from unwelcomed intruders (mice.) But, there were no mice, so Mrs. Meao took naps most of the time. In the future, I’d like to see more variety of blog writers. The problem is that the blog writing applicants come up with such lame topics that I never hire them. They are simply not in tune with what people want to read. We tried to create a teaching program, but none of the Notaries who had teaching backgrounds wanted to cooperate. So, we’ll see how 123notary develops. Wish us luck!


December 12, 2016

You won’t get reviews if you do this…

No, it is not what you think. I’m not talking about spilling coffee on the loan documents or cussing out the documents. It’s worse than that. Some Notaries put a link to their review page in the signature section of all emails. This might get you a few Yelp or Google reviews, but has not worked well for 123notary.com reviews. If you ask for a review for 123notary.com from your signers, make sure to write a customized email to them and put the link in the body of the email, not hidden at the bottom. We have proven techniques for getting reviews and that is one of them.

Additionally, doing top notch work, showing up on time, dressing nice, and being nice are good ways to make people more eager to be motivated enough to get off their assets and write a review about you.


December 9, 2016

Disney Notary World

If there were more Notaries in the United States, in addition to having lower rates due to increased competition, there would be a market for Disney Notary World!

Welcome to Disney Notary World
Start your tour by entering the park — get your ticket notarized. You could take the Notarial tram whose path is very twisty and turny as it is an exact giant replica of Mickey Mouse’s signature! Next, go to the haunted house for a signing. The problem is that the signers — are dead, or at least — they will be, and so will you!

Welcome to the Future
In the futuristic section there is a Robot that can notarize documents. He is trained to spot a fake ID faster than a human Notary. Warning, this means you might all be out of work, or have to carry a robot with you in your car.

Pirates of Pen Zance
Next, on to see the Pirates of Pen Zance. These pirates stole a gold pen from a very prominent Attorney Notary from the 1600’s and hid it in a cave in an island. But, everybody who came to find this pen ended up dead because of a curse. Can you find this pen?

Hyperspace Mountain
After that, get into a floating Notary seal, and go down hyperspace mountain until you go straight down into a pool of ink. Please leave all cellphones in a secure dry area.

War of Balloons
Fulfill your wildest fantasy. At this attraction you get to throw a water balloon at someone who works at a signing company who didn’t pay you. They will say, “The check is in the mail.” Then you throw a balloon. If you hit your target, you win a Daffy Duck doll and a giant check.

The Secretary of State
Bring your kids to this realistic Sec of State building. Wait in line (what else is new) and get your kids an official Disney Notary Commission and Notary Seal. They can get notarizing today! Just make sure they get proper ID and use the Disney Notary Journal,

Hall of Notaries
See photos and paintings of famous Notaries from history. You will find Notaries from Italy during the Renaissance, China, England, and other countries as well. You might even find yourself there. Don’t be surprised if you find Mickey Mouse in the hall of records as he was a Notary before he became a famous star. You have to start somewhere.

The Gift Store
For all of your unhappy customers who wrote a bad review about you claiming that if your tired of “Mickey Mouse Notarizations,” then don’t hire this Notary. You can get a Mickey Mouse doll with a notary seal, where you can get real Mickey Mouse Notarizations.


December 8, 2016

Breaking news…fee increase for California Notary Publics

It has been a long time coming but fees have finally been increased to 15.00 per notarization, per person and other official acts performed by California Notary Public’s. Effective 1/1/2017. It has been in the works for years but finally has came to fruition. I have attached the Assembly bill for review.



December 5, 2016

Affidavit of Support

What is an Affidavit of Support?
The Affidavit of Support is a common immigration document. This document needs to be notarized with a Jurat (a common Notary act which involves a sworn oath.) The purpose of this document is typically for one family member to promise to the government that they will financially take care of the individual who they are trying to bring to the United States.

Where can I learn about Affidavits of Support?
For official information about this document, please consult an Immigration Attorney or the Department of Immigration. Please do not ask immigration questions to a notary as they are not authorized to answer these types of specialized questions unless they have some type of official authorization.

How do you notarize an Affidavit of Support?
Please make sure you have the document in your hand, and fully understand it before calling a Notary. The Notary will have you swear under Oath and sign in front of him/her. Next, the Notary will will in the Jurat certificate verbiage (notary wording) in the form and stamp the document in at least one place. When I was a Notary, Affidavits of Support required two stamps. There is also a problem that the document doesn’t leave ample room for the Notary Seal, so try to squeeze it in or attach a separate Jurat form if the client chooses for you to do so.

My personal experience with Affidavits of Support.
I had fun notarizing Affidavits of Support. I had lots of clients from around the world who treated me to tamales, dim sum, Thai coffee, and other international treats. Notarizing for Chinese people is the best as they are much more likely to feed you than other nationalities — plus, I love Chinese food.

What are some other commonly Notarized immigration documents?
The Affidavit of Citizenship is a commonly notarized immigration document. The Affiant commonly drafts his/her own statement and then has the Notary notarize the statement which normally includes a sworn Oath and normally requires the signer to sign in the presence of the Notary.


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Affidavit of Citizenship

Modern Family: An Affidavit of citizenship & affidavit of domicile Notarized

Affidavit of Support & Direct communication with the signer


December 3, 2016

A Notary Union — how would that work?

One Notary wanted a Notary Union. But, would a union help? What would happen? He wanted rates fixed at $150 per signing. It’s not legal to fix rates and $150 is too high.

Signing companies would have to sign a contract with the union if they wanted to get some of the better veteran signing agents. Most or many veterans would join the union. The companies that hired union Notaries would only be able to hire union Notaries, and with a long term contract at ridiculous prices. Meanwhile the non-union signing companies would be able to hire anyone who wasn’t a union Notary. The problem here is that Title companies are only willing to pay so much. And if the union had a meeting where they were going to raise their rate to $160 per signing, they would virtually put the signing company out of business.

This is similar to what happened with car manufacturers and manufacturing in the Midwest which moved permanently to China leaving the union guys without a job at all. Unions helped certain Midwesterners and people in other parts of the country make extra money for about two or three decades by artificially controlling market conditions — and then the mother companies discovered a place called Asia and the party was over which led to mass unemployment.

Union Fees
Notaries would have to pay union fees, and go to union meetings. Very few Notaries make it to the NNA annual conference, so how will they make it to meetings? Notaries have so little money already, how will they pay fees? Most are not even full-time?

Unions basically give privelege to a few of the workers, but do not help workers as a whole. In Boston in the 1980’s, certain more established classes of workers gained privelege to union jobs while Blacks and Puerto Ricans were generally left out until affirmative action became more prevelant. There is also a lot of power politics going in within unions for control. To me, unions are mafia-like power grabbing organizations which force companies to pay an elite group of workers above market level wages. This leaves those without social favor out of the picture and bankrupts companies in the long run. In the long run unions lead to unemployment, unfairness and misery.

The Solution
So, what is the solution to unfair wages? Markets! Fair and open markets solve all wage related problems. With open markets you get paid what you are worth. The problems the Notaries are facing these days is that there are lots of unskilled people who can do Notary work. They might not do a good job, but they can function with guidance. The skills of highly skilled Notaries are no longer valued like in the old days, and that is why the market hires too many unskilled Notaries and doesn’t pay the worthwhile Notaries enough — at least until signing companies come to their senses.

The Cause of the Problem
Part of the reason this is the case is because there are SO FEW highly skilled and reliable Notaries, that you can’t base your business model on only hiring the best. You might get a few “best” notaries, and the rest will be slouches! That is not a consistent business model. Most Notaries on 123notary just don’t know their documents, don’t know what information is where, and don’t know what to do if there is trouble. Most of our Notaries make a lot of claims of how good they are, but really only 250 Elite Certified Notaries on 123notary are hot stuff in my opinion. Those ultra-experienced and highly educated stampers are worth $150 per signing in most cases. The “regular” 123notary certified Notaries are worth about $100 per signing (in my opinion) and the un-123notary certified Notaries are worth $50. If you don’t know anything and have hardly any experience, why should you be paid much more than minimum wage?

My issue is NOT that Notaries are not paid a decent wage. My issue is that the 250 Elite Certified Notaries on our site who merit a better wage are not usually getting it. As for the uncertified majority, the fact that you get work at all is a miracle. I personally would not hire someone who couldn’t pass my test. My test doesn’t guarantee that you are a great Notary — however, it determines that you are at least worth trying and have potential and know your basics.

If it were up to me, anyone who didn’t pass our elite test wouldn’t be allowed to do any signing agent work. After all, this is a serious profession where you routinely handle half million dollar loans. Why hire someone who is any less than highly qualified for such critical work?


November 28, 2016

Strategies for efficiency in the Mobile Notary Business

For those of you who are mobile Notaries who want to get ahead, being efficient is half of the game. Here are some strategies that can help you use the most of your time, so you can make more money.

1. Take jobs that are close.
If you are running all the way to the other side of the county to make a lousy $75, you won’t have time to take job offers for closer jobs. Try to manage your distance and charge for it. Time wasted in labor-intensive work takes away from your availability which has a value.

2. Advanced payment
Tired of chasing down your fees? Are you tired of wasting time faxing invoices again and again? You will save a lot of time and grief if you require companies to pay up front. You migth not require all companies to pay up front, but at least ones with spotty track records should. Additionally, companies that use you a lot that you did several jobs for and haven’t gotten paid yet since it has only been a few weeks — you might have a credit limit for them and make them pay up front if they want more than three or four jobs done before you receive payment.

3. Fuel efficient cars
If you drive a car that guzzles your gas, that will eat into your profits. If you think that’s a problem now, think about ten years from now. Gas is more likely to be more expensive than less, unless China and India disappear from the face of the earth. With the rate of cancer in China, they just might disappear, but don’t hold your breath on that one.

4. Faster printers
Do you waste time waiting for your cheap printer to print stacks of documents? Perhaps you should invest in a really fast printer if you are committed to this industry. If you can print a set of documents in three or four minutes, that is fast. Each time you print two sets, you might save ten minutes. That adds up.

5. Faster eDocs
If you work for companies that send documents fast and don’t keep you waiting, you will save big amounts of time. The slow companies need to be charged extra, and unknown companies need to build a track record with you before you trust them. Not having to wait three hours for edocuments is actually a big deal. Waiting cuts into your time you will need for other customers, many of which will call at the last minute.

6. Know thy Fedex stations
If you know where all the Fedex stations are in your general area, you’ll know the fastest route to the nearest Fedex no matter where you are.

7. Mobile Printing
Instead of having to come all the way home to print, why not print on the road? Imagine all the time you’ll save. We’ve written several articles on mobile offices over the years. See if you can find those articles (good luck — they’re buried deep.)

8. Confirm the signing
Lots of time is wasted when you go to a Notary job only to find that people aren’t ready, don’t have proper ID, or didn’t ask their wife to come too. If you confirm and make sure everybody’s wife and ID are in order, your appointment will go more smoothly and you won’t have too many evenings ruined by a lack of preparation.

9. Shorter packages
If you know which banks have shorter packages, you can charge less for those. That way you get in and out of appointments fast.

10. Pray to the signing Gods
If you pray that your signers will sign fast, you’ll get in and out of appointments quickly. I said a similar prayer, but in a very different circumstance. I had to go meditate at a place that closed their gardens at 5pm. I prayed that they would not kick me out at 5pm. My prayer came true — and this was the only time I’ve been there out of dozens of times they let me stay so late. Unfortunatley, I got locked in and had to beg the nuns to let me go. If they hadn’t come so quickly, I would have had to pray to the nun Gods that the nuns would come. Prayer is tiring work!

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