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November 8, 2016

We asked Notaries if they prefered Texts or Calls assigning them jobs

Most Notaries prefer to be called with a Notary job. That way they can negotiate the fees. However, you can also negitiate with a text. It is just as easy. It just involves more back and forth plus waiting.

If you are offered a $50 signing with 400 pages, just text them back asking for $400. You won’t get a response as your price is too high. But, if you try to be reasonable and ask for $80, you just might get it, especially if you get back to people quickly.

If you read Zen and the art of negotiating notary prices — it’s just like anything else. If you really want the job, bit a little low like $70. If you don’t care that much, bid $85. If you don’t want the job, but will go if they are desperate, then bid $120. Keep your prices proportional to your level of desperateness.

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August 8, 2016

Which is more important?

As Notaries, we do many tasks each day. We are so busy, or desperate for work, that we might forget about basic good technique for running our business. Let me ask you which is more important.

1. Getting your notary job done correctly
2. Asking for a review
3. Taking jobs from individuals instead of signing companies
4. Getting paid
5. Having a good presence on Facebook
6. Having a website
7. Being “error-free”
8. Advertising your services.

All of these seem important. But, let’s look at the chain of events. You cannot get a notary job unless you can be found. To be found, you need to be on many company’s lists and be found on the internet. If you are found, if you don’t do a good job, you won’t develop loyal clients. Without loyal clients you’ll never make regular large quantities of income. If you are found, but your presence doesn’t impress, you won’t get picked as often.

If you work for signing companies, few if any will write reviews for you. But, many individuals will, especially if you help them out of a bind and are nice to them. So, here is a proven successful chain of events.

1. You advertise your notary work or make yourself known to others
2. You jazz up your advertising with well written notes, certifications, etc.
3. You work for individuals in addition to signing companies no matter how low the pay because…
4. That way you can get reviews, since it is easy to get reviews from individuals if you do a nice job for them.
5. If you have reviews, it is easy to get more calls, and then
6. Develop a large and loyal customer base.

So, all of the eight things mentioned at the top of the page are critical, but the order of the steps is more critical than the importance of each item.


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May 24, 2016

Disgusting – Nobody wanted the Notary Job

Disgusting – Nobody wanted the Notary Job
I write this with a combination of sadness and rage. First, let me clear up the use of the word disgusting. That refers to the “so called” “Notaries” who flat out refused the assignment that will be the topic of this entry. I hope some of them will read this blog entry and, perhaps, change their ways.
The call was from a distant location, one that would require double my local fee. Initially, prior to learning the details, I informed the caller about 123notary and Notary Rotary. I suggested they search using their zip code to find a closer agent who could process their job more efficiently and at a lower fee. About an hour later they call back to report that none of the “Notaries” they contacted would accept the assignment. Intrigued, I asked why.

The job entailed 4 one page documents, and a 12 page document. All were to be notarized. So far, routine. However the affiant was both blind and partially disabled. The affiant had already had the documents read aloud, and was totally able to understand the contents. They related to investments. Not wanting to work for someone who has perfect ID and is rational (actually highly intelligent) is, IMHO a notary sin. The MINOR limitations could be accommodated and the notarizations could proceed quite legally.

I established some “ground rules” to protect the affiant. While I was in route to the location the documents were to be read aloud – slowly. Every word. I was informed he could sign if the arm was supported – the affiant was able to use his hand to sign. Each document contained a statement by the “reader” as to reading the complete text aloud. I required that this take place prior to my arrival, and again in my presence. That process added an hour, of course at no additional charge. The appointment was confirmed and I began the lengthy journey.

I met a person who awed me. Not being the least bit negative as to physical condition. Cheerful, bright and witty were the initial impressions. Only later did I learn the depth of intelligence. My client was an investing genius. What Stephen Hawking is to science, my client was to investing. I felt an inner glow when my client told me that my fee for travel was fair; and it was understood that the extra time the procedure took was not part of the fee. How kind it was to hear that spoken.

I was told that the documents were already completely understood; and that my insistence at being present for an additional reading was both appreciated and unnecessary. I’m passably intelligent, but I know enough to appreciate the vastly superior intellect before me. With the formalities completed, double and triple checked; we chatted a few minutes. We discussed the notary function, and I was able to cover some of the regulations and procedures mandated by NY State law. The conversation turned to investing and market trends related to the upcoming (2016) elections. I learned a lot.

To the heartless, self centered, poor excuse for a “Notary” who dismissed this assignment; I say “shame on you”. Not only did you miss an EASY job, but you also missed some very useful investing advice that is sure to yield me profits far greater than a mobile notary fee. Back to that fee. I did consider charging my local rate. But, that would be treating this client “differently”, and bringing up the subject might be viewed a pity; something neither needed nor appropriate.

Some might consider my client “handicapped” or think (to themselves) “there but for the grace of God go I”. I prefer to think it’s a routine assignment, costly due to distance, lengthy because we are all different; and important because we are all human.

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December 9, 2015

Are you ready for the really BIG jobs?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:10 pm

Are you ready for the really BIG jobs?
Perhaps it’s because I live in Manhattan, it’s certainly not because of my “good looks”. Whatever the reason, I have been getting a series of really BIG notary jobs. These are the ones where the hand starts to tremble and the stamp needs to be re-inked midway. Filling out a gross of acks (144) can yield gross handwriting. Sorry, could not resist. But, even that was not my biggest; that one was for “about” 1000 acks! It took all day and the rats did not even give me a lunch break!

Regular readers of my scribbles will not be surprised. As usual I start with a description of the problem, and proceed to my wonderful/inept (you choose) solution. Also, as usual, my solution involves both preparation and a bit of technology. Add an understanding of local notary laws, and it’s possible to make the BIG notary job; relatively painless. Of course there will be some work to do but most of the drudgery can be eliminated; not just reduced. It’s easy to prepare ahead of time if you know all the details perfectly; but let’s work with an “on the fly” situation – one where your preparation, technology and savvy are put to the test.

The call is from Argumentitous Rabenscrantz Ribbelhoffen, and he has 180 documents; all virtually the same that need to be notarized. ARR works in an office and has both a computer and a printer. Are you starting to guess what’s next? You have previously created a document in Microsoft Word (which is on virtually every PC) that prints “2 up” Acknowledgement forms. All that is needed is to cut them in half. The half size is used to allow an additional notary stamp to be added; half on the “short ack” half on the underlying document. As the document is in Word, you are able to type in the County, Date, ARR’s name, type of ID shown, etc. Your ack has your complete notary “stamp” preprinted on both the top and bottom copies. No need to stamp again; except for the previously mentioned “overstamp”.

Oh darn, that nifty Word document is on your home computer and not with you? Silly me, that is not the case. You a few copies (in case of accidental destruction) of the “shell document; and have it with you on a tiny USB memory chip that is ALWAYS on you; with your house keys. Plug the little USB memory device into Mr. ARR’s computer, find the right drive letter, open the document and plug in the appropriate entries. You need 180 acks, so print 90 pages. Cut them in half, about 5 at a time to it cuts neatly, and presto; 180 picture perfect acks. Of course you still need to sign and emboss them. I have found that clients like to operate my embosser and are willing to take part in the process to make the Notary job complete quicker. Don’t get carried away and let someone else sign for you!

Now the production line shifts into really high gear. Mr. ARR signs, you sign, emboss and staple the ack to the signature page; add the overstamp and on to the next one. That’s a heck of a lot better than reentering ARRs name, and all the rest of the required stuff. Now for a bit about legality. I use the exact wording from my states notary manual for the “shell ack”. As for pre entering my stamp (on the ack), I see no prohibition as long as it has the same information as on my notary stamp.

I used the ack in my example above; but I carry several useful forms in a similar manner. It’s easy to be ready for the BIG jobs, the prep is simple; and USB memory chips are very cheap.


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May 11, 2015

Here is an easy way to make $4000 more per year

Most notaries are complaining that there is not enough work to go around. They are right — there isn’t. However, there are certain people who get most of the work when there is work. The trick is to become one of those people. The listings that get the most work have a few reviews from satisfied clients, a great notes section, a company name, high placement, and last but not least — 123notary certification.

But, I don’t “Need” your certification. I’m already “certified!”
Unfortunately for you, the people who use our site do not reward notaries for being NNA certified. This is not my decision, it is theirs. NNA certified notaries on 123notary get no more or no less business than any of our other notaries. However, those certified by 123notary get 78% more clicks and more than double (2.5x) the new jobs (generated from our site) than those who aren’t. More than double sounds good to me.

From 3 jobs per week to 3 jobs per day
A few years ago when the economy was better, one notary raved to us that the minute he passed our certification test, he went from getting three jobs per week to three jobs per day. That is phenomenal, and a true story. His luck was considerably better than most other notaries, but statistically, the other notaries did quite well too.

15-100 jobs a year is average
Although the industry is slow, notaries with a p#10 preferential spot on 123notary get around 15-100 jobs per year based on people who we talk to in those positions. Those who get less than that either have already dropped out or will soon drop out. Consider that you are on the low end of the totempole getting 15 jobs a year and our certification helps you get 36 jobs per year. You would be making an additional $2000 per year as a result of your two hours of effort studying and taking our test. That is $1000 per hour assuming you drop out after a single year.

How would the average notary benefit from 123notary certification?
Let’s assume that the average notary stays on 123notary for three years which is somewhat true. The actual number of years for paying listings is around that level although free listings sometimes get removed prematurely if they have bad stats. Let’s say that our average uncertified notary gets 30 jobs per year from our site. Getting certified would raise that total statistically to 75 jobs which is 45 additional jobs which would account for around $4000 extra income in a year. So, multiply three years by $4000 and you get $12000.

Your time is worth $6000 per hour studying for our cert test.
Over the life of your career, the average notary would get $12,000 more income as a result of passing our test which takes about two hours in study time, plus a 6.5 minute online test. Two hours of your time will net you $12,000 in the next several years. It is like a goose that lays golden eggs.

But, you are busy.
What else are you doing that is more important? Many notaries are too busy to do something worth $6000 per hour and get offended when I mention that what they are doing “might” be slightly less important or valuable than studying for our test. What are you doing and what is the value of that work?

Studying for our test: $6000 per hour in long term financial benefit (before expenses)
Doing a notary job: $15-40 per hour (after expenses)
Daydreaming: Zero
Going to a birthday party: Zero
Cleaning house: Zero
Browsing Facebook: Zero

The bottom line is that you clutter your life with tasks which are not optimally valuable, so when an important task needs to be done, you simply don’t have time. My suggestion is that you schedule your other work around your important tasks, rather than putting off the important tasks, otherwise you’ll never get ahead. Schedule your study time in your calendar, make sure your passwords work, and just do it. It might be safer to schedule three non-consecutive days just in case you need more time or have technical difficulties.


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October 27, 2014

The Joy of Saying NO

A call comes in from SSS (Sleazy Signing Service) asking if I was available to do a notary job. “Yes” I reply; please tell me more. The job is “precisely” 1.3 miles from your location. It has a single “tiny” PDF. There are “about” 12 pages, and we will provide a return account number for making a UPS label, at no cost to you. I am starting to get the feeling that this is a bottom fisher, but am curious as to the location. Where is the signing to be done? They give a location in the middle of Manhattan, the absolutely worst place for traffic. Mass transit also goes there but the service is quite slow and the waits for bus or train are lengthy. The subway train is faster, but the platforms are not air conditioned and it’s like standing next to a pizza oven.

“Shall I send you a confirmation and the docs?” You can, but first you need to understand how I run my business. I am the seller of the service and set both the price and the payment terms. My fee is $150 (much more than I usually charge, but I had a bad feeling and wanted to get rid of this particular SSS); and that is payable within the next 10 minutes on my site, via PayPal, prior to my printing of the documents.

We don’t work that way, we are willing to pay $40, and you will have to include an invoice when you return the completed documents and we will send a check during our next disbursement cycle; are you interested? No. I didn’t hear you, please repeat what you said. No. Dial tone.

Of course this is an extreme example. Their offer of $40 would entail at least 2 hours of effort, and the expenditure of over a gallon of near 5$ fuel. You know the components of doing any notary work. Calls, printing, travel, record keeping, trip to UPS, dunning for peanuts (in this case), etc. What I can’t understand is the (feigned?) surprise at SSS when I declined their offer. Are there notaries out there who will jump for any lowballer offer? I sure hope not.

However, NO is not always the best answer and you can’t say that “perhaps” or “maybe” you will take the assignment. But you CAN tell them you will be accepting the assignment – AND – will be checking their reputation. If you find they have a negative or no reputation, you will be requiring that they pay “up front”. Some might never mention that process, and will choose to do their “credit checking” as soon as they can get to a computer. If they have a good history, just do the job. But, if they have a bunch of negatives – call and “require” payment in advance.

Back to the fee amount. You know what you must charge to earn a living. Isn’t it about time that you put your foot down and declined lowball offers. Some notaries are out there taking the low fees; and the SSSs in this world have endless phone time to find them. Are you fed up with finding on the HUD that the SSS received $250 and your share is $75? I work with several very honorable Signing Services that take 25$ to 50$ “off the top”. But I always receive the majority of the fee. The reason you don’t is that you have trouble saying NO. Practice, look in the mirror and repeat NO NO NO – I refuse to allow anyone to take advantage of me.

I’m sitting at my PC typing this for you. I am exceedingly happy that I do NOT have a toxic receivable of $40 to chase after putting in 2+ hours in midtown traffic. I prefer to try to influence my fellow notaries to just say NO to the lowballers. You can do it, think: NO NO NO. After you decline the first lowballer you will feel great, and will be ready to “dump” the ones that follow.


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July 14, 2012

Protecting yourself with a contract

Protecting yourself with a contract 

It is common for big companies to make the little guys sign a contract with many terms for doing business. One common term is to have an arbitrator resolve issues, and the arbitrator is probably picked by the company in question — how fair!!! ……. Not!    But, how often do the little guys think far enough ahead to protect themselves?  I say that notaries need to make signing companies sign something that will protect the notary’s interests.  But, will anyone sign it out of desperation? If they like the notary enough, they might, but if you are a novice with no experience, you will not have such good luck.
Here are terms that I would discuss.
Trip Fees
If I am assigned a signing agent / notary job by your company, and travel to an assigned location, and the job is cancelled while in travel, I want a $50 trip and preparation fee.  I want $75 for jobs more than 40 miles from my house according to mapquest’s mileage estimates.
Printing Fees
If I am assigned a signing agent / notary job by your company , print out documents and borrower’s copies, and then your company cancels, I want a $40 printing fee.   (it might not be worth this much, but you have to factor in the hassle of billing these clowns and trying to collect).
Payment regardless of funding
If I am assigned a loan signing job by your company, and I complete the signing, but the loan doesn’t fund, your company must pay me $100 per signing.
Payment regardless of if the borrowers are willing to sign
If I am assigned a loan signing job by your company, arrive at the specified location, and start a signing with the borrowers, and then they change their mind about signing and refuse to sign, your company must pay me the entire fee agreed upon.
Waiting time
If I am assigned a loan signing job by your company, I will allow up to 60 minutes for the job.  If the borrowers want to read every letter of every word in every document and take in excess of 60 minutes, I require a waiting time fee of $40 for every additional 30 minutes, or any fraction thereof.
Late payment penalties
I expect to be paid within 30 days for all loan signing services.  If a payment is post-marked late than 30 days from the date of the signing, I will charge a late fee of $25 per signing, and then an additional $25 for each fifteen days after.  If you fail to pay this late fee, I will terminate services with your company.
I think that notaries are fools to just be willing to do business with anyone without even background checking them.  On the other hand, a contract like the one I drafted (written in informal language and not legalese) might be too demanding, especially the waiting time.  Perhaps a more liberal contract should be drafted, but notaries need to take protecting themselves a lot more seriously and get more professional and methodical about it.  Bigger companies almost always make you sign a contract, why shouldn’t you?

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October 17, 2011

Fixing Botched Signings

Filed under: Notary Mistakes,Signing Tips — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:09 am

Fixing botched signings
There are notaries out there who get calls from signing companies to fix loans that some other notary goofed on.  The comment of the seasoned notary is always, “Why didn’t you call me in the first place?”.  The signing company always says, “Because, you are too expensive”.  But, how much money are you really saving if the notary job has to be coordinated twice, done twice, and if the signing company and lender get a huge headache?

Taking risks
Its always risky hiring new people. You never know if they are going to be any good or not. But, the seasoned notaries often want double or triple what a novice wants.  How much is experience worth?  In my experience, if I send a Fedex, it takes five minutes, but if it gets lost and I have to play detective work to figure out what happened, and perhaps send it again, it could take an hour. I have other better things to do in that hour.

It would be easier if…
It would be better if there were some database somewhere where notaries would be rated. If someone was new, but people wrote some commentary about how the notary did their work, the others who are interested in hiring that notary would at least have some idea of how the notary worked.

Companies keep a database
Signing companies do keep their own database.  They are always trying new notaries out. If the new notary does a bad job, they get blacklisted in the database, and will not receive any more work.  However, the next company down the line doesn’t know what happened and will try the notary out for themselves.

How risky is it?
The question is, is it better to hire new notaries and take a risk of a loan being ruined?  How risky is it?  If you get paid $150 to get a loan signed and offer $50 to a notary, that is $100 profit.  If you get a good notary who wants $125, then you only make $25 which is not much of a profit. That is the motivating factor why signing companies don’t pay much.  You make quadruple the gross profit by hiring newbiews. After you pay your staff and your office expenses, you might be making 10x the profit by hiring newer notaries.  The business math is always interesting.

I feel that the Title company should have more of a say as to what notaries are hired for jobs if they care about their loans.  If they leave it to an intermediary, it will be like the shipping companies of 1000 years ago who brought expensive Arabian race horses to Europe, but fed them the cheapest food.  When the horses got where they were going, they were too weak to run anymore…

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September 10, 2011

Notarization in the ‘Hood

Filed under: Humorous Posts — Tags: , , — admin @ 5:54 am

Notarization in the ‘hood 

As a native of Massachusetts, growing up near Boston, I never visited inner city areas until I became a courier at the age of 23.  Boston’s neighborhoods are often places with a lot of danger, hostility, and threats, so we suburbanites are squeemish about going there.  While doing my deliveries in Boston, I kept overhearing talk about violence that had happened, and a few people even threatened me while I was just doing my job.
California is a much nicer and warmer place.  People are pleasant in all areas, whether they are wealthy areas like Beverly Hills, or the poorest areas of South Los Angeles.  I even had gangsters here say, “Have a nice day, sir”.  This wouldn’t happen back East.  Being a mobile notary for close to a decade brought me to all parts of many counties in Southern California.  I went to San Bernardino, Victorville, Riverside, Temecula, San Clemente, Palmdale, and all over the place.  My notarizations in the ‘hood, were also fine, but I do have a few stories worth sharing.
It was back in 2002.  I had just finished lunch, and I got a call.   It was a signing company that wanted a Los Angeles notary to do a signing done in South Central.  I accepted the job, and went to the signing.  The borrowers already had the documents.  Based on movies like, “Boyz in the ‘hood” and others like it there were filmed down there, I knew that there were dangerous gangs there.  But, I am a neutral party.  I don’t make trouble with them, and they generally don’t pay me any attention either.  But, I’m not from that type of environment, so I don’t know what is normal either.  In my neighborhood we say, “its a nice day today”.  We park on the side of the road, and observe other normalities of what seems normal to us.
The gang
I was to go to 43rd Street.  I forget the cross street.  I was a mile away from where I was going, and already on 43rd street.  There was a large car, like a Cadillac, or some other large american car.  It was parked in the middle of the street.  There were six big guys hanging around the car.  They were wearing cut off pants.  Of course in Los Angeles, everyone wears cut offs.  It doesn’t prove that you are a gangster.  Its hard to know who is a real gangster, and who is just for show.  Gang members get beautiful women, so many kids want to look like them.  To know who is a real gangster, I let my stomach tell me. My stomach never lies.  Some say, the gut actually has ganglia, just like the brain, and I believe it.  I could hear the “boom boom” of the stereo.  I didn’t want to go around these guys, since they aparantly had a deed to the road.  I did a U-turn and took 44th street, and then got back to 43rd street.  I guess I have good karma, because nothing too terrible has happened to me anywhere. This is what you get to experience if you are a Los Angeles notary public.
The accident
It was another day, and I was driving back from South Los Angeles. It was on La Cienega Blvd near Pico.  Traffic was dense.  A guy rear ends me.  We exchange paperwork.  I lucked out.  The insurance company paid for my repair, plus for some painting work on other areas that had pre-existing damage.  Talk about good karma — or luck, I’m not sure which. 
Opposites Attract
I was back in the ‘hood for another notary assignment. I didn’t want to be there after dark.  The notary job started at 6pm and it was May, so I was getting out of there slightly after dark. There are very affluent areas in South Central by the way, with very educated people who have big houses and swimming pools. Many African-Americans have done well as attorneys, doctors, and business people in Los Angeles for decades, and many like to live in or near Baldwin Hills which is bordering South Central.  I went through a run down area, and then to a very nice neighborhood with very nice houses and neatly manicured lawns.  Not a millionaire’s area, but very nice none the less.  The couple was very very nice. The man and woman were opposites.  And opposites attract.  The man was a very studious type.  He had a math degree, and was working on a law degree. The wife was the socialite.  This guy read every letter of every word of every document. He asked a few questions, but was basically engrossed in these documents.  Normally, during this type of signing, I get bored and twiddle my thumbs. But, his wife was really interesting and friendly. She talked to me for over two hours about every subject known to mankind . So, after it was over, I felt that it had been a very pleasant signing. 
After the signing was over, I was almost completely out of gas.  No problem, there was a gas station a few blocks away. It was an Arco — and they don’t take credit cards. I prepaid $20 for some gas.  I filled the tank up.  This was obviously a few years ago, becuase you can’t fill anything up for $20, not even a moped these days.  There were six guys walking out from the gas station’s store, and they were not looking very neighborly either.  Each one was about 350 pounds, and they had the look of death on their faces.  There was tension in their walk.  I could tell that they had had some type of altercation with someone, or maybe something worse.  I can tell who people are based on their vibration.  I don’t need people to open their mouths to get to know them.  I decided it was better to look at the ground.  In some cities, staring at someone can get you murdered.  My change was 56 cents after I had filled up.  I didn’t want to be there any more.  I got in my car and left without my change.


August 29, 2011

Two notaries assigned the same job?

Two notaries assigned the same job?
There I was, a California notary public in Tustin, CA. I had driven down from Los Angeles to sign a loan for a nice couple in Orange County, California. We were signing away, when lo and behold:  The notary showed up.  He asked, “Who are you?”.  I then proclaimed, “I am the notary”.  Then, he said, “That’s impossible, I’m the notary!”.  “No you’re not!”.  “Yes I am”.  “Am NOT!”. “AM TOO!…”  Okay, let’s be honest, the “am not am too” part never happened.  I’m embelleshing this signing agent dialogue. The couple was just staring in confusion.  The wife was displaying the exact same mannerisms as a cat watching a dangling string.  He head rotated to the left and looked at me, then head rotated to the right and looked at the other notary, then back at me, and back at him…. Hmmm.  What is going on?
The Signing company hired two notaries?
How could they! After all of my hard work, they would have the gaul to… Oh… wait a minute, let me call them and straighten the whole thing out. 
Ring Ring…..
Me – Hello, may I speak to Mary please, this is Jeremy your California notary for the Anderson Signing in Tustin. 
Mary – Hi, this is Mary! 
Me – Hi, Mary, it seems that you hired two notaries for the same job. 
Mary – What? We would never do that
Me – Odd, because as we speak, there is another notary here.  Or, should I say, “A Notarial Triangle”
Mary – Hmmm… Let me call the Title company.
………… ten minutes later
Mary – I found out what happened
Me – Please do tell?
Mary – The title company hired two signing companies to handle this California notary job, and the OTHER signing company sent that OTHER California notary out.
Me – Mmmm.  So, which signing company was SUPPOSED to be responsible for the job.
Mary – We are.  The title company cancelled with the other signing company, but apparantly, they didn’t cancel with the notary.
Me – Oh, no they didn’t!!!
Mary – Oh, yes they did.
Me – This has never happened in my career to date.  And I hope it never happens again. Just make sure that I’m the one who gets paid, although the other one should get a travel fee, don’t you agree?
Mary – Thats between him and the OTHER signing company.
Me – I KNEW there had to be another signing company. I could just tell from the way he was looking at me.
So, jokes aside, the other notary left, we finished the signing.  Into the UPS box it went, and off I went on my merry way out of what we affectionally call, “The OC”, and back up the 5 Freeway, or is it the 405 — its been so long I can’t even remember, through Anaheim, Downey, Commerce, and back to Los Angeles where I logged in my transaction and faxed a bill to the signing company.
The End!

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