What a Nice Guy by Phil Torcivia

Friday, April 15, 2011

Stamped and Stumped


      When I moved west, I did so without a job. My butt needed covering so I got my real estate license and notary stamp. Nothing funny could come from those, could it? Yes, it could.
      I met a woman recently who needed some documents stamped. I’d describe her as a 2010s hippie who never escaped the seventies. She was a nature-woman around sixty. I try to meet clients at a neutral public location that features caffeine (yes, Starbucks). There’s no reason to be careless. I don’t want to wind up tied to a bed, a la Misery.
      I told her I’d be wearing a black baseball cap, carrying a briefcase. She arrived and, as all great husbands do, she ignored my hint. She sat with the first man she saw (he was hatless, by the way) and asked if she could buy him a coffee. I could tell from her voice that it was my client. A nice guy would have walked over and corrected her. I wanted to see this play out. Plus, I’m all about helping a brother, so I let her buy and deliver his coffee.
      The man was perplexed, but too stunned to pry. He was close to eighty, and I’m sure part of him wondered if it was all a dementia-induced mirage. She struck up a conversation as he stared at the unicorn in front of him.
      “Sorry, I’m late.”
      “OK?”
      “I’m so nervous.”
      “Don’t be.”
      “I’m glad I found you, and how convenient is it that you’re close by?”
      “Uh, really convenient, I guess.”
      “Do you have a blue pen?”
      “Excuse me?”
      “They say I have to sign in blue ink.”
      “Sign what?”
      At this point, I had to save her. My man got his free coffee. His service—my amusement—was no longer required.
      “Excuse me. You’re looking for a notary, right?”
      “Oh, thank you, young man. I already found one. But, give me your card and maybe next time ...”
      The old man was deep in the forest without a compass as was she.
      “I don’t think he’s a notary. Are you?” I said, trying to rescue them.
      “I’m a retired postal worker.”
      The woman’s mind was short-circuiting.
      “Ma’am, I’m the notary. Black cap, remember?”
      “Oh, my. Wait, so, who are you?”
      “I’m a retired postal worker.”
      “… a retired postal worker holding a free cup of coffee,” I clarified.
      He smiled and offered it to me.
      “No, you go ahead and keep that.”
      She was embarrassed as I led her over to another table. As a notary, I have to make sure the person signing the documents is of sound mind. She was borderline. She rambled on about her mistaken identification.
      “That poor man. He must be so confused.”
      “Eh, he got a free coffee and met a nice person. It’s a good day for him.”
      “I guess so. Well, how does one become a notary?”
      “One takes a class and test.”
      “They must do background checks or something.”
      “You bet.”
      “Are notaries allowed to smoke weed?”
      “Uh … why, you got some?”
      “Really? You’re allowed to smoke weed?”
      “Actually, it’s encouraged.”
      “Wow. That’s cool.”
      “I’m kidding.” Gosh, her gullibility was remarkable.
      “OK, I need you to sign here and here.”
      “Have you ever met someone with handwriting anxiety?”
      “Can’t say that I have.”
      “It makes me super nervous when someone watches me sign my name.”
      “Should I run some water?”
      “Huh?”
      “Never mind. Here. Just do your best.”
      It was another clever display of wit and humor that I directed toward the worst possible audience (which now includes you, Miss Reader, unless you’ve stood at a urinal). I’m such an ass with a stamp and poor timing.

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