Does this happen to you? Does your signature keep changing?
Changing my Signature is a Hobby
Have you changed your signature today? How often have you changed it in your life so far? Never? How boring…yawn.
I’ve changed it five times <face glowing with pride>.
Changing my signature is my hobby. What else can I say?
I have to somehow cover up the embarrassing fact that I cannot replicate my own signature consistently.
Misery Loves Company
The last time my signature changed, and I had to prove who I was once again with a bunch of paperwork, I was miserable.
I decided to check if this was a condition that needed treatment. Not sure if it can be treated, but I found to my relief that I was not alone in this.
Within my own home, my father-in-law sheepishly confessed that he can never sign confidently at first shot. He always needs to practice a couple of times on a scrap of paper before he signs on the real cheque or whatever else he needs to sign on. Wow! That felt good!
A little further in the family, I found an aunt who claimed that she has been suffering this malady for years. And she used to work in a bank! Apparently her husband, kids, assorted brothers and others have had a field day for years at her expense. I felt better!
And then, as always, Google rallied around, and threw so many search results for ‘why does my signature keep changing’. So many people on earth seem to suffer the same problem. And there is no cure in sight. I found people asking how to replicate their signature the next day. Gosh! I felt almost elated.
The History of my Signature
My dad had the most stylish signature ever. He always used an ink pen, and it always had turquoise blue ink in it. And he signed with such a flourish. It was a pleasure to see his writing and his signature.
His signature inspired me a lot. I wanted mine to be stylish and leave behind an impression when people saw it.
So I started with a nice and cursive artistic signature several thousand years ago. Mistake number 1. Within a year, I lost the ability to replicate it.
The family gently suggested that maybe I should tone it down a bit…
The next one was a tad toned down but it still hadn’t lost some of the flourish. Predictably, I was unable to replicate it in a very short while.
And then the third, the fourth, and the fifth generation signature came along.
Today, my signature is so toned down, and so devoid of personality, that I’d much rather not show it to anyone. Most often, the reaction to my signature is, “What? That’s your signature? Ha ha ha ha ha…”.
Someone described my current signature beautifully.
Your signature looks like someone squashed a mosquito on the paper, and then, it dragged itself in a half-dead state, until it died completely, leaving behind a thin trail.
Such a creative description. Such an insult to my signature. Oh to think of where I started, and how stylish I wanted my signature to be, and where I have reached.
Don’t mind the gap in the text. I was wallowing in some well-earned self-pity.
The Day I had to Sign a Lot of Papers
When we bought our house, we had to opt for a home loan (mortgage). This naturally meant that I had to sign on tons and tons of papers. Under the watchful eye of the guy from the bank.
To say that it was a nightmare is an understatement. I don’t think I was this nervous before any of my exams.
I had to keep wiping my sweaty palms. I had to request the bank guy to look away. I had to take breaks after every 2–3 signatures. I needed a loo break because of all the nervousness. I asked for water to drink.
And the worst. After each break, there was a danger of my signature changing. So I had to ask for a blank paper so that I could practice before starting the signature campaign again. It was all very unnerving.
Imagine practicing your own signature as if you are attempting a forgery.
I wonder if the bank guy thought I was forging someone else’s signature. The only reason he might not have raised an alarm was because the money was not actually going into my account.
The Process of Proving that I am Me!
As if the unwilling change in my signature was not bad enough, the process to correct this error is such a pain in itself.
I am not sure how it works across different countries, but here, if any agency realizes that there is a signature mismatch, you have to go through a bunch of steps to correct this in their records.
You have to find a chap called a Notary. You have to get him to stamp and sign something called an Affidavit where he vouches that you are indeed you. You have to get your bank to acknowledge that you are a bonafide customer and that you have a penchant to change your signature.
All this involves time away from doing your day job.
Painful…especially if you do this with unerring regularity.
My Notary just stopped short of giving me a frequent customer card and loyalty discount this time.
Why not Just Use Thumb Impressions?
I am sure there are very serious challenges to using thumb impressions instead of signatures.
I am not sure what they are. If thumb impressions can be used for folks who cannot read or write, why can’t it be used more widely?
It would save people like me a lot of hassle. And save banks and other agencies a lot of time and paperwork in establishing identities, or proving a forgery.
To me, using thumb impressions for authentication seems like a no brainer. Fingerprints are unique. No one can duplicate someone else’s fingerprint as easily as forging a signature.
And there is no danger of signature change, or shaky hands causing errors and so on.
And a lot of Notaries would probably go out of work…hmm? Got to worry about that one.
And Then There are Such Experts
While I and several thousand others like me fret over our fickle signatures, there is this grand old lady in the family, who is a class apart.
She is in her nineties. Her signature hasn’t changed one bit in all these decades.
Of late, due to age, her hand shivers just a little bit. When she was signing something, her son saw her hand quivering, and told her that she should probably practice her signature so as to prevent any error.
She took this advice very seriously. The next time the son visited, he found a book and a pen by her side.
It was filled with pages upon pages of her unchanged and flawless signature. She practices her signature 50 times each day!
Hmm…maybe there is a lesson somewhere there for me…
© Anu Anniah 2020