At one point in my life I had a flawless signature. In middle school, I dreamt of being Mrs. Faith Yu. It was fluid and beautiful. I obviously missed out on the opportunity to have a perfect signature by not marrying my crush…
That also means I’ve never really had a legal flawless signature.
It never really mattered until yesterday, when I had to re-evaluate our insurance records. My insurance agent passed over a tablet pad and pen as he said to me, “Check your signature to make sure it looks as close to your signature as the key pad will allow.” In my head I thought, Dear Sir, I am a product of my environment. Since when does the image on the screen pad ever match one’s signature? My insurance agent had me thinking, do I even have a true signature: a fancy practiced script of my name that people could read right away? Does it really matter?
I am not alone in wondering the value of a signature in a digital world. Linton Weeks wrote for NPR in his article “The Great American Signature Fades Away” that “In recent years, however, as computers and keyboards have become more prevalent, the art — and the necessity — of penning one’s name has gone out of style. The opposable thumb is used more for clicking a button than gripping a pen.” There’s a reason that they usually take a photocopy of your ID when you sign up for a new set of documents. That has more value in contesting legal documents than signatures.
From a newly fledged writer’s perspective, however, a signature seems really important. Friends and family have been saying “I want a signed copy” ~ meaning that eventually I will have to sign my name on things that they, hopefully, treasure forever. Is this how I meet my failure as a writer?! Should I have been dutifully practicing a legible copy of my name all this time?
Sure enough, what showed up on the screen after I signed on the pad was a hot mess. I wouldn’t want to read a book by the person who penned that sloppy signature… nope… not even the e-copy.
When the agent signed on the key pad, his signature was flawless. It clearly matched the printed signature he has on the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthday cards he sends us each year. Clearly, it is my own failure at having a fancy signature that is holding me back and not the technology. I wondered for a second if I could ask the agent for tips on supreme signature handcraft, but I realized that might have been overstepping our insurance agent/customer relationship.
To rub more salt into my sloppy signature wounds:
A few hours later, I was asked to go into work to set up a digital copy of my signature very much like my insurance guy has plastered on all those aforementioned cards. I met up with my sister, Alycia. She handed me this form where I had to sign my name three times in different sizes.
I can do different sizes! It was making the three signatures look the same that was the problem. When I handed the form back to Alycia, she looked it over, handed me another form to try my three signature again and muttered, “I knew this would happen.” Signature failure Number Two.
I clearly am a failure at signing my own name, so I did some research and found out that Business Insider’s Skye Gould, Megan Willett and Mike Nudelman compiled a list of famous signatures in their article, “The 17 Coolest Signatures Of Famous People Through History.” Most of them have the feel of a signature, but really end up looking like mini sized pieces of art. On the other hand, J.K Rowling’s signature isn’t the hand crafted beauty that I would have expected, which makes me think that I have a chance at being a decent book signer someday!
Weeks argues that signatures are relevant these days largely for sentimental value. It should be considered a piece of art that signifies who you are, which is backed up by Gould, Willett, and Nudelman’s piece. It has me thinking that I can choose to look at my sloppy signature as a failure, or I can look at this new opportunity as a writer to create a signature that is uniquely me. A whole separate piece of art. Who knows! Maybe I can create such a noteworthy and memorable signature that it will one day end up on the “18 Coolest Signatures of Not-So Famous People Through History.”