Your Unwillingness Is On Good Form

, , , , , | Legal Right | December 4, 2018

(I am an employee at a small shop located in a heavily-cultural enclave which, in addition to selling books and religious items, also offers to the neighborhood services such as notary public, copies, computer printouts, etc. for the sake of convenience and at low rates. This means that, in addition to the manager here, I am also a commissioned notary public in this state. One day, as I am working the front counter and my manager is doing some paperwork at a computer within earshot, three young men come in.)

Young Guy #1: “Hey, man. We have this form we need notarized.”

Me: “Sure. Can I please inspect the document first?”

Young Guy #2: “Yeah, here it is.” *pulls a sheet out of his backpack and hands it to me*

(I look over the page and it appears to be some sort of a boilerplate rental agreement which is supposed to be filled out, signed, and certified by a notary public. Thus far, nothing appears out of the ordinary.)

Me: “Please complete the form with your personal information and leave the signatures blank for the time being. Each of you will sign when I direct you.”

Young Guy #3: “Okay. Can we sit at this table here?” *points to a vacant table*

Me: “Sure, take your time.”

(The group huddles at the desk and starts talking about the form. Meanwhile, other customers are entering and leaving. Five minutes later, one of them approaches me:)

Young Guy #2: “We are trying to get this document accepted as a proof when applying for a professional license, and the rule is that this agreement should be at minimum one year old.”

(Now I realize what they want me to do is sign and certify the document and back date it to twelve months ago, a move that will cost me my commission (and possibly a nasty fine) if I am busted. Compounding this is the fact that we keep notary document records in a log book, and a signing dated 2015 in a sea of 2016 signatures would stand out like a sore thumb. Now, given these circumstances, we have very little to lose by telling them to f*** off. However, rather than flat-out refuse and have them all pissed off at me, I try to placidly explain my encumbrance. Italics show the vocal emphasis in my speaking:)

Me: “Well, if you need this to be a year old as of now, this document should have been filled out and certified twelve months before, or in December 2015. That way, it could have been used when applying for this license now. Of course, I am more than willing to go ahead and take your signatures on this now, but that means the form is not acceptable for use in this kind of scenario until December 2017. Do you understand?”

(The guys all glance at one another bewilderingly and start muttering to one another in a low voice. Finally:)

Young Guy #2: “You know what? Forget about this form.”

Young Guy #1: “Yeah, guess we’re gonna have to go about this some other way.”

(They take the document back, say good-bye, and the group leaves the premises as calmly as they entered. When they are gone, my manager, who was listening to the conversation, turns to me:)

Manager: “[My Name], you understand what these guys were trying to do, right?”

Me: “Seems like they were trying to get me to lie on a certified document. No sense in doing that, really. [Manager], why the h*** do people like these have such an aversion to following the law, anyways?”

Manager: “Probably just an easy shortcut they think will help. They have no qualms about lying under oath; they could find some other poor sap who might help them.”

Me: *switching to a very sarcastic tone* “S***, I should have told them I would do it if they gave me a hundred bucks for my trouble.”

Manager: *in an equally-deadpan tone* “And they would’ve gladly paid it, as long as it got them out of whatever mess they’re in.”

(We’ve had to deal with many incidents of people trying to get us to “help” them get documents notarized, but this was one of the more inane of such events by far. It’s amusing that people would never dare pull this kind of crap at a bank or currency exchange, but a specialty store is open season. Of course, it should come as no surprise to any reader that we even began including in our log book fingerprints of everybody who gets anything notarized right from the beginning, when we found out at least one of the initial clients used somebody else’s ID to get a form stamped!)

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