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From Ferrets To Chain Smokers To Hoarders, Signing Agents Expect The Unexpected

Expect CatAfter Washington D.C. Notary J.D. Walker was confronted by
a shotgun-wielding signer, he used LinkedIn to ask other Notaries to share their most unusual signing experiences. He heard about everything from chain smokers to a house full of ferrets, and it quickly became clear that NSAs need to expect the unexpected — and prepare for those moments as best they can.

The Chain Smoker: Imagine sitting across from a chain smoker as he or she plods through a lengthy signing. A minor discomfort for some, for others, such as those with allergies, a smoke-filled house can pose real danger. “When I go into a house where there is smoking, I let them know that I am allergic and most of the time they don't smoke while I am there,” says Arkansas Signing Agent Denise Picket. Other Notaries avoid the situation altogether by scheduling signings at public places. “At least once a month, I meet borrowers at Starbucks,” says Chicago NSA Karen Thompson.

The Hoarder: Untidiness is common, but extreme clutter can make it hard to find a viable signing surface or even a place to sit. California mobile Notary Saskia Valentine lets clients know in advance that signings don’t have to take place in the signer’s home. “Hopefully, borrowers who know they have issues will jump at the opportunity to avoid embarrassment and request an alternate location,” Valentine says. As an extra precaution, Arkansas Notary Denise Pickett carries a supply of hand sanitizer in her glove compartment — to use on her way home.

The Frigid Parking Lot: Make it a practice to carry an extra sweater or jacket, in case your signing takes place in a 30-degree parking lot, like Michigan Signing Agent Gina Carrozza found herself one cold winter night. “I've had signings in parking lots on windy nights, using the hood of my car and relying on the parking lot lighting,” says California Notary Maria Alanis. In addition to layers and a reliable flashlight, consider adding a clipboard to your supply arsenal to use as a signing surface, just in case.

Unaccommodating Pets: Florida Notary Linda Frezza recalled the time she showed up for a signing to find a bevy of ferrets — at least 20 — running around the house. While cute and friendly, they smelled terrible. Luckily, the signer herded her fuzzy friends to sit in their hammock throughout the signing. Dominick Ruggiero takes control of this occurrence by alerting signers to his pet allergy. “When I call to confirm, I ask if they have dogs, and I ask them to place them in another room,” says Ruggiero.

Staying Flexible: One of the most important keys to handling strange signing experiences is flexibility. Just ask Denver Notary Lorene Logan, who once conducted a signing at a picnic table beside a mountain stream in the Colorado Rockies. California Mobile Notary Jim Morgan once performed a signing aboard a mega yacht anchored in the San Diego Bay. “I had to take my boat out and tie up to them,” said Morgan. But it’s all in a day’s work.

Have a frightening, amusing or otherwise unusual signing story? Share them in this week’s Bulletin thread on the NNA's Facebook page.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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