John Hancock, The Remix

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I have had the same signature since I was in college.  I sign with my first initial and then my last name.  I started with the first initial thing because my maiden name was long and my formal first name is long and, quite frankly, I just couldn’t make my signature look cute.  Shallow, but true.  That long signature was just so hard to write.  Instead of it being bubbly and happy, like I wanted my signature to be, it was the definition of chicken scratch.  It just didn’t look good.  And I got tired writing it.  It was too long.

(Yes, I know I sound like a middle schooler.  Blame it on my day job.)

So, I cut it down to my first initial and my last name.  When I got married, my last name became even shorter and so did my signature.  Now, my signature really looks like a KB and then the rest is undetectable.  Apparently, the shorter my name gets, the lazier I become.

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(This picture doesn’t have anything to do with my signature, by the way. It’s just the most recent picture of me. On a side note, to my side note, doesn’t it look like my head isn’t connected to my body?!?!)

This week, though, I was at the local library and I had to sign something. When I signed my name, the two older women behind the desk started having a private conversation right there in front of me about signatures of young people today.

“What kind of signature is that?” one said to the other, holding up my paperwork so she could see it better.

“It’s her initial and last name,” the other replied. “It’s how all the young people are signing their name these days.”

“Well, that’s not a signature!” the first chirped. “That’s just her initials!”

“I know,” said the second. “But they count it as a signature, so I guess we have to take it.”

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard that about my signature. My mom used to get on to me when I was younger for not signing my whole name. She works for a bank, so she’s always insisting that what I sign isn’t “officially” a signature. But, you know moms… So, I usually just blew her off and rolled my eyes.

But, after all this time, was she actually right????

So, I came home and told Chris what the women had said about my signature. He laughed and then said that he’d always thought my signature looked like a little kid’s initials.

So, apparently, I’ve been walking around for ten years signing my name like a child and no one told me. Thank goodness those little old librarian ladies set me straight. This has left me walking around for the past week like a middle schooler (day job again…), trying out my signature in all different ways. Finally, I thought I found the right one, but when I used it today at school?

Chicken scratch.  And then my hand got tired.

Just like in college.

It’s amazing how far we come and, yet, how much we are still the same. (sigh)

Respectfully yours,
KB
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31 Thoughts to “John Hancock, The Remix”

  1. hah. I technically sign my whole name but really its a J then scribble, L then scribble. As a kid I thought that all cursive was just scribble anyway. However, I was appalled when I found out that my husband just signs his first and last initials on bills and checks, etc. I feel like it’s cheating, nobody knows who you are!

  2. I’ve been trying really hard to get a better looking signature but my license currently has my first name minus the last two letters. My husband’s is his first letter, scribbles last letter and the same for his last name.

  3. I have the same problem with my signature! My last name is on the long side and my first name is ‘Ann’ (as in ‘A’ + a scribbly wave) I usually make it through the first half of my last name before I just start scribbling.

  4. So I do a very similar thing. But when I studied abroad in London during college I learned something. In the US you can sign whatever you want and people rarely check the receipt, if they do they glance at it to make sure it’s signed. But in England they will make you rewrite your signature at the grocery store, with people waiting and bags of food, just because it doesn’t exactly match your credit card. So some people care more than others. In any case, my mother has a beautifully perfected signature that I used to admire. And I can’t be bothered, so now I end up with an M, last initial and the last letter of my last name with a line in between. It’s artistic.

  5. I have to say, I’m 95% sure that you are correct (and not your mom!). Granted I don’t practice commercial law, but I took a class on commercial paper in law school and what we learned in that class is that any mark you make with the intention of it being your signature IS your signature. You can write Katie Brown or KG or Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock (or even just an X!), if you are signing it– it counts! Maybe there are some caveats to that or some internal bank rules– but for legal purposes, I am pretty sure you can write anything you want to. 🙂

  6. Ha, Lyndsey beat me to it. As long as your signature looks pretty much the same every time, it doesn’t matter. It’s your signature. Ideally, also, you would make it difficult to replicate, which means your chicken scratch might actually be a good signature! Mine is my first initial and then what I *intend* to be my last name, but really just looks like a squiggly line. I’m in Australia, I’ve never had anyone complain about it. I just want to get the signing over with quickly – I can’t stand when someone agonises slowly over their signature!

  7. My first name and maiden name are both super long so I always signed my first initial and last name. When I got married I changed my middle name to my maiden name so now I sign my first initial, middle (maiden) initial and my new last name. It drives everyone insane that has seen it!

  8. Another lawyer chiming in to say that you could indeed put down whatever you want, you could draw a smiley face (people would still probably think you were in middle school…) but as long as you intend it as your signature, it binds you, and therefore it counts!

  9. I have horrible hand-writing and despite many attempts I just can’t make it better. Part of me wishes I could take a fancy schmancy 1900’s script class. But I’d be scared of how bad they’d say my handwriting actually was.

  10. I have a very curvy name and so my first name (Amber) looks like an A with a bunch of humps behind it…and my last name looks like a DeV with some loops. No one can read it but whatever.

  11. Kate

    I can totally relate! I have a looong first name and my maiden name was sorta longish. I don’t even go by my first name, so I always had to think about how to spell it (sad I know). People around me started getting so impatient that it took forever for me to sign something that I started signing unofficial things (reciepts, ups sign offs, etc.) w/ my first and middle inital and then my last name. Once I finally got it down? I decided to get married (last October), which means now have to stop and think about how I’m signing my name every. single. time.

  12. Audrey

    I wanna see it! Can we see it???

  13. Sandy

    i could have sworn that you said “hand” not attached to your body when you said “head”. i kept looking at that pic thinking, that is gracies hand and if it isn’t, no wonder she gets so tired signing her name…her hand is too tiny!!! =o)

  14. Katie's Mom

    I’m totally busted on this one. I only used the whole “bank legal thing” to try to get you to take more pride in your signature. Who knew you would grow up, get a blog and have lawyers advising you! I still stand by the idea that your signature is yours alone and you should pen it with pride.

  15. Haha, this is awesome! Rob teases me about my signature because the way I write my last name makes it look like Mgt, the abbreviation for management. Keep rocking that signature, KB!

  16. Too funny. My dad told me that signing your last name illegibly is a sign of passive-aggressive rage toward your father. Which was tongue-in-cheek since his signature was always illegible and I glossed over my maiden last name since it was long. Now my last name is shorter but I still do initial line. Makes it look like a famous person’s autograph 😉

  17. My {real} name is too long, so I just write my initial and the my last name. And both are illegible! haha I guess I’m lazy!

  18. I too use only my first initial. I was good at signing my maiden name, but my married name has too many letters that never come out right anyways… so I just scribble a little and I’m done!

  19. Katie N.

    I have the same problem! My full name is Katharine (same spelling as yours!) as well, but I go by Katie. My maiden name signature wasn’t half bad…I’ve got a pretty cute but not TOO cute cursive ‘Katie’ and I used to write (in cursive) 5 out of the 8 letters of my maiden last name and then just scribble the end. Overall, it was a pretty decent signature. BUT, I’ve been married for almost two years now, and have yet to figure out how I want to sign my new last name. So, every time I sign something, it looks a little different. It drives my husband crazy and he’s always telling me I need to sit down and figure out once and for all what my signature really is! We practically got in to a fight the day we bought out house, because my signature looked different on every page of our contract!

  20. I do the same exact thing! Same issue – long first name, long last name, my hand gets tired. Once, while trying to buy my T-pass to ride the train, the station employee made me resign the credit card receipt THREE TIMES because she insisted I was being lazy and wasn’t signing it correctly. Then she yelled at me for an additional five minutes about being insubordinate and not following directions. You’d think this would make me stop shortcutting it, but I swear, I just get lazier with it every year. It’s a sickness.

  21. Maren Gladden

    At work, for deliveries and such, I use my first initial and last name to sign. I don’t figure the delivery guys need to know my first name.
    We had a couple in for a closing and his ‘signature’ was his first name’s initial (that’s it, just the one letter), and hers was her first and last name initials (again, that’s it, just the two letters)…neither even attempted to scribble the rest…so you’re in good company, me thinks.

  22. Nikki

    I would just like to start off by saying that I have terrible handwriting. Absolutely terrible. It looks like I’m in pain when writing. I’ve tried to fix it, but it’s useless. I’m really bad about not signing my name the same way too. I’m going to go practice right now.

  23. Just tell people you’re practicing for when you’re a doctor. 😉

  24. Meagan

    Me too! Me too! I dropped signing my entire first name when I got married because I too thought it wasn’t pretty. I will say, however, that both my first initial & my entire last name are legible, which helps I hope.

  25. Another Katharine here as well (didn’t know there were so many of us that spell it that way!) and I also do the first initial and last name (which is mostly the G followed by squiggles.

  26. It seems like my signature is a constantly evolving thing. The signature on my license (from back when I was first married… new name & all) looks NOTHING like it does now. Mine isn’t chicken scratch, but it certainly isn’t legible!

  27. Emily E

    I use to do EWolfe all together and then I got married and my last name starts with an E so it looked ridiculous EE…no. So now its just one big swoopy loopy and thats all. No spaces, no legitimate letters just my super special fancy schmancy swoop. Take that librarians!

  28. Sharilyn

    Frankly, I think it is an American thing. When we lived in Russia, my husband was the manager of an NGO there and had signing responsibilities for several bank accounts. He used to drive the accountant crazy because his signature was not rigidly consistent. Most Europeans (I think) diligently practice a signature (which is not necessarily legible) that is consistent EVERY time. And it’s often just a series of swirls and sworls with a few letters underneath–quite beautiful actually. But I’ve seen very few that you can actually read. France was the same way. The banks REALLY do care there.

  29. Yeah, my signature changes everytime I write it 🙂 It always was first inital last name for me, and now that I am married I still haven’t quite figured out how to sign my new name! You are not alone

  30. jenny-bird

    I’ve weighed the very same issues that you have. I have a formal signature that I use on official papers and a quick signature that I use when signing off on something (e.g. credit card swipe, UPS package, etc.). Both signatures include my full first and last name, but one is legible and the other isn’t. I’ve practiced both, like a middle schooler. 🙂

  31. I’ve totally practiced my signature repeatedly… during all stages of my life. It’s fun… =)

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