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September 20, 2016

Their Signature

Their Signature

Let’s use, as a working definition of Their Signature; “somebody’s name written by him or her in a characteristic way”. Long ago, about a decade, I was often asked to provide “legible” signatures that matched the name signing. I tried that a few times, mostly with dismal failure. More often than not, the signature was totally illegible – more like artwork than written script handwriting.

Now let’s go back a lot further in the past, about two thousand years. Commercial transactions were common then as they are now. Most did not read or write, they made their mark. It was the seal of the Notary, who knew the affiant that validated the “mark”. Nothing has really changed. It is still the Notary who is supporting the validity of the signature.

They can sign many ways, with a pen, with a brush (artsy?), using their hands, feet, knees or mouth to hold the instrument of signing. Keep in mind the Americans with Disabilities Act. We must make reasonable accommodation to all who qualify for our seal. The signature does not have to be the same as, or even similar to the one on their ie: driver license. A lost limb or even both arms does not preclude notarization. Pen held in mouth is fine, the signature will be vastly different – but that really does not matter. Many elderly people have hands that shake, but their minds remain crystal clear.

Their “signature”, however written is the second aspect of accepting the Notary Oath. The first part is communicating a “yes” to the Oath; the signature is the written agreement. As mentioned – often the signature does not match the ID. Of course the picture must. There is one signature that (at least in NY State) must match – and that one is mine. My signature is recorded with the county clerk and for it to be authenticated; my signature on the document must be the same as my officially recorded one. Thus my signature cannot change.

To me what really counts is their printed name somewhere to indicate exactly who is being notarized. If it’s in my “loose ack” – I get to print the name. Sometimes it’s not that clear on the document, that is when I ask them to print their name under their signature. Notaries must take care to delimit their notarization to those actually given the oath and ID checked. When there are “other” places for signature, I often add “by affiant name” to the “sworn to and subscribed”.

Signatures vary greatly. I have seen perfectly formed cursive handwriting, squiggles and minor works of art with flourishes. Many bear no relation whatsoever to the name. Sometimes the same thing is on the ID, sometimes not. It’s my job to determine who they are, not to critique how they write their name. It would be so much more “absolute” if a DNA sample were to be added. Some think a thumbprint would be best; but not everyone has a thumb.

So, I am not a handwriting nanny. When the instructions mandate “clearly written” I tell the affiant what they “require” – and accept what they do. Usually I ask for their routine, standard signature “the way you would sign a check”. In my experience people object to being told “how to sign”. The signature, stamp and seal of the Notary makes whatever it is “Kosher”.

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March 27, 2016

You know you’re a notary when…

You know you’re a Notary Public when…

(1) You go to a bar and ID the bartender before he has a chance to ID you.
(2) You ID every girl you date even when their high school yearbook is over 18
(3) You like Oreo cookies because they’re embossed.
(4) Your favorite ice cream is from Jen & Sherry’s, Rescinded Rum Raisin
(5) You background screen your golf buddies before going out into the course with them
(6) You have a bumper sticker that says “I’d rather be signing”
(7) You spend so much time with your GPS that you make Siri sign a prenup.
(8) You spend so much time with your GPS that you know all of its most intimate pieces of information such as favorite foods, birthdays, favorite roads, and mother’s maiden name.
(9) You become famous, people ask for your autograph and you’d rather have theirs
(10) Your mailbox and inbox are cluttered by twelve different notary organizations.
(11) Your Jewish son meets a nice Jewish girl and you ask, “Is she a notary?”
(12) Your favorite seafood is squid because it never needs an ink refill.
(13) When you get your parking validated, you rip the stamp out of the person’s hands so you can stamp it yourself.
(14) You comment, “Gee, your hairstyle doesn’t match your ID,” when you meet someone at a bar.
(15) You compliment people on their signatures — “Gee, that’s a lovely cursive.”
(16) You take pawprints of the animals in the neighborhood just in case they get lost.
(17) You spend your spare time last weekend writing a letter to the State of Nevada criticizing them for allowing drivers licenses to be valid for 20 years.
(18) When you go to court (for whatever reason) you correct the bailiff’s Oath wording.
(19) You wear a T-shirt saying, “I’m not your husband’s mistress, I’m the Notary!”
(20) You have an NNA towel that you take to the beach (if such a thing exists)
(21) All guests entering your house must personally appear before you and sign the journal, put a date and time, plus reason for entry.
(22) Your favorite California wine is the Notary Public Cabernet – You’d swear under oath it’s the best vino there is if you weren’t busy slurring your notary verbiage
(23) When your friend asked you, “Can I turn left here?” You respond, “I am not an Attorney and may not answer legal questions or perform loan signings in the state of Georgia. I am just a Notary.”
(24) When you go to cocktail parties and people ask what you do you respond, “Next question.”
(25) When you go to a bar, you always order their signature drinks.
(26) When someone asks how old your young children are, instead of measuring their age in weeks or months, you measure it in fractions of a commission. Oh this one? Judy? Yeah, we got her during my 2nd commission. But, Fred over here we’ve had since before I was commissioned at all. He must be getting old now.
(27) You ask your Jewish friends if they need their kid’s Bar-Mitzvahs Notarized.
(28) If your friend invites you to a party and then calls you to change the venue, you offer to initial the change.
(29) You have a bumper sticker saying — Warning, I brake for Mortgage Brokers.
(30) You have another bumper sticker saying — Notary on Board
(31) You have a happy hour menu with special prices for Jurats.
(32) Your favorite Chinese restaurant has fortune cookies that read — He who backdate live long life, but have short commission.
(33) You have a special credit card that gives double miles if you stay at The Notary Hotel
(34) When you see a girl with a nice tan, you comment that she must have used a lot of toner to get that look.
(35) When you go out for steak you only get certified Angus steak.
(36) When charitable organizations send you 500 labels with your home address on it, you throw them out as you prefer to use a customized stamp.
(36) Your favorite movie was — Honey, I Notarized the Kids.

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