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Notary Voices: The Worst of the Worst Signing Locations

A hoarder in a cluttered room filled with belongings

The mobile Notary and Signing Agent experience can be a bit like that of a rideshare driver, process server, or electrician: when you get called out for a job, you really don’t know where you are going and what to expect.

Most of the time, the signing location is nice and comfortable, and the signers are pleasant. But every once in a while, things don’t go quite how you would expect. That’s why in a recent “Question of the Week,” we asked our Notary community: What’s the worst place where you had to perform a notarization?

With 165 responses so far, your stories were eye-opening. Here are a few highlights:

Marta Hinojosa had a few memories she’d likely prefer to forget:

“In my 10 years as a Notary there’s been some crazy ones. Near a pig in a cage, at a home that had a mouse trap on the table as we were signing, in baggage claim at the airport, with a crying soon to be ex-wife and hubby, the list is endless!!”

Debbie Barnett recalls a situation that was downright puzzling:

“In a hoarder's home that reeked of cigarettes ... I asked for a table to sign the documents on and they pointed to their kitchen table. Problem was it had a jigsaw puzzle across the entire surface. Yeah, no, that's not going to work. They pulled out a folding card table and set it up on the patio instead. Much better than signing on a puzzle.”

Customer answers on Facebook community

For some Notaries like Jaime Chau, the situations are happening now, in real time:

“Today I had one in a house with 10 cats, 3 dogs inside and 9 peacocks, 13 turkeys, 2 horses and bunch of chickens, the smell and the noise surely drove me crazy, yet I still had to keep smiling and professional manner. As soon as I checked the docs after signing, I just rushed out of the house.”

And then there’s this gem from Jessie Calderon, in which apparently a few prayers were in order:

“(The signing was) Quite a drive out of town. It was getting close to dark and outside on fence was a sign that said ‘Stay Out!! You Must Have Permission First or You WILL be Shot!’ (I couldn't confirm the closing date and time but was instructed by the hiring company to go anyway.) My husband went with me because he wouldn't agree for me to go so far away from home by myself. When we went through the gate my husband did the sign of the cross! Lol.”

And then there’s Courtney Burbank, whose unusual signing location was a gift that kept on giving:

“My carport, in the middle of a thunderstorm, in 2020, when Title Companies were to be shut down, but we still had to close loans. Between being a title agent, a tax collector, and a Notary, my carport saw a lot of traffic that year.”

Every week on social media we ask you — the nation’s Notaries — to share your experiences on our “Question of the Week” threads. With responses ranging from the highest highs to the lowest lows, the Notary community gives us a glimpse into what day-to-day life is like for Notaries everywhere. We’d love for you to join in the conversation! Look for our “Questions of the Week” on the National Notary Association’s Facebook page. We can’t wait to hear your stories.

Note: Some responses above were lightly edited for grammar, style, and clarity.

Phillip Browne is Vice President of Communications at the National Notary Association.

View All: Notary News


Add your comment

Carla Rodriguez

25 Jun 2024

Jessie Calderon's story took me out! LOL! Sometimes, you need the Lord's backup - this is true! LOL! I'm a new notary and reading these stories, I do wonder, what did I get myself into! Life is definitely an adventure!


27 Jun 2024

I decided long ago, that I will only notarize for work purposes. I don't feel confident enough, especially these days with AI and fraud, to notarize true and accurate documents. Glad we cannot notarize for family, as that saves heartache. I don't advertise that I am a notary. When I retire, I will surrender everything to the State.


01 Jul 2024

I have started keeping a clipboard w/me for those interesting moments. One location was so deplorable that I did report them to CPS. The door would barely open, there were several animals in the home along with 2 small children. The filth and smell were almost more than I could handle. She pushed back on the kitchen table so there was space for the paperwork. After everything was signed, they left me to get out on my own. I could barely pull the door open myself and I knew that if there were a fire in that home those children could not get out. There was a home in such bad shape, that there wasn't anywhere to sign documents. The walls were down to the wood slats, there wasn't ample furniture to sit upon so I sat in their wheeled walker, and placed the documents on the thickest item I had w/me for signing. The one that always surprises me is when they want to meet in a restaurant to sign personal documents. There is nothing private in those locations at all.

Lee dike

01 Jul 2024

During Covid lock down, was confronted with 50's female who wanted to complete loan docs in back seat of her car ??? I of course had to decline !


01 Jul 2024

I love the stories! Lol

Sherry Harrison

01 Jul 2024

I had a title company send me to a nudist colony with no warning. I did that closing standing up.


01 Jul 2024

New to the Notary/ Signing Agent experience. I worked in healthcare for many years so these stories seem pretty normal to me. The more ridiculous and odd the situation is the better I feel I went into the right career.

Joan Stanley

01 Jul 2024

During COVID I performed a loan signing assignment in the client's home garage - with the doors open during a snow storm. IT WAS COLD! Took four hours for my toes to feel they had finally defrosted afterwards!

Diane M. Wagner

01 Jul 2024

When I worked at a hospital I would sometimes be called to acknowledge a signature in the neuro department where half of the patients were unconscious. I got used to declining if I felt the person signing was completely out of it.


01 Jul 2024

I live in a rural type of area with an Army Military Post & Training Center and in town a Marine Military Post and 85 miles from a Navy Military Post all of which I have been doing for 19 years. I have had clients coming to meet me in their various military vehicles on dirt roads, streets, parking lots, residences, Burger King, Popeyes. One day during a rotation of units there were so many heavy-duty semi-trucks hauling tanks etc. all needing visitors passes, plus me also needing one, that security told us it was going to take 4hrs to process all of us so we could get thru the gate. Couldn't wait that long so client and I drove to a different open field area and signed docs in my car. One time I missed a military field exercise by 5 minutes. They waited until I was out of the area to start their exercises. Many times, I have a client with a POA because one of the parties was over-seas or in a different state and they were signing for them. I called one client to confirm the appointment. Turned out they were in a different country right then.

Miguel Hipolito

01 Jul 2024

The weirdest one was at a rest stop right off the highway and the most uncomfortable was on the hood of the car in the middle of the afternoon with not shade and it was 100 degrees!!

David A. Lombardo

01 Jul 2024

A few years ago, I drove through a horrendous thunderstorm to notarize mortgage documents. The location was near open farmland near Asheboro NC. I was dressed professionally with collared dress shirt and black dress pants and shoes. As I exited the car toward the farmhouse I quickly opened my umbrella and made a beeline toward the front door. Before I approached, I had to maneuver past puddles of water and clay like soil that had turned to what looked like mush. Then all of a sudden, two large German shepherd dogs ran from the side of the house and through the mushy clay and then proceeded to jump up on my pants. As I got closer to the door, I noticed that my once black dress pants were covered on all sides with clay imprints of their claws. When I met the borrowers at the door, they didn't even apologize but said that the dogs were friendly and would not bite. Needless to say, I had to make a trip to the dry cleaners the next day.

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