Coping with COVID-19 – A Notary’s Reflection on What’s Really Important

For the last 4 weeks I have been at home, self-isolating, per doctor’s orders. I am 60 years old and I have a terminal, incurable, heart and lung disease. Getting COVID-19 would surely be a painful death for me, alone.

During the last 4 weeks I have received many calls from signing companies, each with their own way of handling this situation that was thrust upon us. Several of the calls were, what I would call, rude. After I politely explained my situation, one woman actually yelled at me that I was being selfish and that I was an essential worker and it was my “duty” to do closings. She said it is vital that they get their loans closed. I said, “I’m sorry, but it’s not worth my life”, and she hung up on me.

There were other angry or upset phone calls, each trying to tell me I was “essential”. How long am I essential, until I’m dead? Then what?

That call I described was the worst call. Some requests were very kind and understanding. But that one call stuck with me and has had me wondering what we, as a society, have come to. People don’t show compassion —it’s all about money. I’ve been feeling sad and angry because it’s more of the same treatment.

Some signing companies don’t care about us as individuals. They never call back and say, “Hey, I heard you did an awesome job with that signing, 100% error free, returned quickly, and the borrowers loved you!” Why don’t they take the time to do this? Is it because we are expendable and easily replaced? Is it because they are so busy keeping up, riding their treadmill everyday, that thanking someone for a job well done is out of the question?

I’ve been a notary signing agent for 17 years. I have strived to be a perfectionist with my work. My business has been built with the attitude of doing my very best. I love to make people smile and I try hard to leave even the grumpiest borrower smiling. On the few occasions that I have messed up and missed something, I have taken responsibility and fixed it quickly.

However, there have been errors that had absolutely nothing to do with me and the signing service puts the blame on the notary anyway. They will arbitrarily deduct money from your fee, without even telling you. The check just shows up short. Or, they give you a “demerit ” in their system so that you get fewer calls.

Sometimes signing services don’t pay at all for our services and then you have to hound them for payment. Sometimes you get it, a year or more later, sometimes you never get the money. You worked for free.

It would be nice, over the years, for signing services to send out a gift basket on my birthday (there’s no office party), or send out a gift card for Christmas. Something to show their appreciation. This has never happened. Why?

All that said, I have worked with signing companies over the years that have been kind, respectful, and paid me as agreed (and on time) for a job well done. It’s just my recent experience that brought this negativity to light and inspired me to write down my thoughts and feelings.

The last 4 weeks of not feeling the pressure has felt like a relief. Maybe this is what the world needed – to stop and reset ourselves. Yes, I need the income, but will I go back? At this point, I’m not sure.

A change of focus

For the past 3 weeks I have been coordinating a large group that is volunteering their time, money, and talents to sew fabric face masks. We found out that nurses were going to work without any kind of masks as they care for others selflessly.

When the nursing homes, senior assisted living centers, memory care centers, doctors offices, and first responders had dwindling supplies of PPE, they were frightened and anxious. They ordered supplies only to find that their orders were canceled or back-ordered indefinitely. Some started wearing bandannas as a crude mask. They knew it wouldn’t prevent COVID-19, but somehow it made them and their patients feel a bit better. So, with that information, our group started sewing. We did this long before the CDC said everyone should be wearing a mask in public.

We aren’t providing face masks to the general public, just as a free donation to nurses in our community. They are so grateful. I have had nurses call me, crying. One told me she was 32 weeks pregnant, had children at home, and had to go to work in a nursing home without a mask or gown. It broke my heart.

I’m happy now to say that we have provided over 2,000 masks and we have received calls, thank you notes, and Facebook posts all thanking us for what we’ve done.

That is personally rewarding. It’s how our society should be in all areas. We need to be respectful of each other, not just in person, but on a phone call or online. We need to thank each other. We need to feel true compassion for one another.

I have always been proud of my work as a notary. We are helping people and providing a much needed service. Right now, I am truly amazed by the heroes all around us and I am inspired by the doctors, nurses, first responders and caregivers who are sacrificing so much to care for others in this unprecedented and challenging time. They deserve our utmost respect.

By Cathy Dahl

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Gigi Talbott

    Thank you for this article. I appreciate that you verbalized what many signing agents across the country have felt on many occasions.

    The world is moving so fast that people have to stop and take time to kind. I have a strong work ethic, but being appreciated gives me a second wind on those crazy days.

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