I just heard that a notary went to an assignment, was progressing through the assignment, only to have it disclosed that one of the signers was positive for Covid-19. Now I don't know about you, but that's a little freaking me out, right? Just thinking about that - where did that go wrong?
The first thing is that when we contact our signers about our appointment, the first thing we need to do is check. We cannot assume somebody else checked, somebody else asked. So it's really important that we ask, 'Have you been ill or anybody in your household been ill in the last 14 days?' 'Have you been in contact with anybody who has been ill in the last 14 days?' Because if the answer is YES to either one of those, now is NOT a good time for you to be going into their environment because it starts with the environment!
Now let's just say that its all good. The next thing is the number one thing we can do - is to make sure we have a space that is large enough to accommodate the social (physical) distancing. And you know sometimes the kitchen table is big enough. You're at one end, they're at the other, maybe you'll have five, not quite six feet unless it's a big dining room table. But what happens when they have those little kitchen tables and like you're right on top of them practically? Then, bring your own! In the back of my hatch, I have a TV stand.
Remember, you know, we used to eat on those TV stands, your old TV dinners! So I have a wood one and what I do is I sanitize it. I have it in my car, I have my own chair that is not fabric, it's all metal and vinyl, so it can all be sanitized and I keep that in the back of my car in case the environment I come into is insufficient. If they've got to sit at that table, I'm going to put my table a few feet further away from that and I've had to do that. So they're at one table and I'm at another table because their table just wasn't big enough or they wanted to do it on the front porch and they don't have a table at all or on the back patio.
So sometimes we've got to bring our own stuff to make sure that it works for us - because that's who we need to be concerned with - our own safety. The other thing that's important, if I know that I've screened first and now I've got social distancing going on, is that all of the tools I'm going to be handling have been sanitized.
So I'm going to start with my phone. How many times do we pick it up and touch it and put it to our face? We need to be sanitizing that over and over and over again. I have to admit, I never thought about sanitizing my phone that frequently before, but I'm doing it all day long now, so it's really important to remember to do that. I sanitize my phone in between my signings.
Another thing is I normally am wearing, (you'll notice I normally do wear) reading glasses, right? I have eight pairs of reading glasses. I sanitize three or four of them and I put them in my little 'go bag' here that I keep in my notary bag. All my sanitized stuff is in here. And so that way I can pull out a clean, sanitized pair and then I don't put it back in there. I take it out to my car and it goes into a container that's for sanitizing. So you want to make sure that you sanitize your glasses - cause sometimes you take them off, you put them on, you touch them. So you want to make sure you're doing that.
I have in my little bag, little baggies of the sanitizer wipes so I can wipe down - whether it's at my car, my own table, or whether it's the space in front of me - so that I'm confident that I'm working in a nice clean area. Remember, we're not trying to make things sterile, just sanitized. That's what we're looking for. All right.
And then of course before I walk in the door, I've sanitized my hands and I have a whole bunch of these little bottles of sanitizer. So I do that first. Now I have clean hands, then I'm going to put on my gloves. Now I keep a box - this is the Walmart brand. They are powder free. So if people are latex allergic, don't have to worry about it. This is another brand. Actually, I'm going to tell you a funny story about this box here. This was a tip. The guy was so happy - he ran a cannabis shop - about me coming out. He asked what size gloves I was wearing and when I told him, he said, 'would you take some boxes with you?' And he gave me several boxes of these gloves - and these are also powder free. Now what I love about these really thin gloves is that you can feel through the glove because it is so thin.
And so we'll pretend I've sanitized my hands before I put this on and I'm going to be putting on my gloves so that I can handle the ID - so that I can examine it properly. I'm not just staring at it, you know, off the table. I want to pick it up and I want to handle it. And then I'm going to put it back when I'm done recording everything. Then anytime I feel like I'm uncomfortable, I can always sanitize over the gloves. Remember - I'm going to throw these gloves out when I'm done with it, so I've taken care of that.
The other thing is that if you're in a state that collects thumb prints, then I keep these. These are alcohol prep pads. You'll find them in a diabetic section of the drug stores and you just open it up and let them pull. I open it up, but I put it out to them so that they can pick it up. And what they're going to do is just pull it out so that they can rub their forefinger, thumb and forefinger together and then they'll just put it back here and now they let it air dry. Make sure they don't blow on it or rub on their clothes! Air dry for 10 seconds, and now it can go in the ink pad and now it can go then into my journal. There are strips, I don't like them myself, but those will work as well. Thumbprint strips rather than the ink pad.
Now I've got a used sanitizer wipe and I've got this (used prep). At the end of my assignment, I need to collect all this trash. And so what I can do is of course I can put the stuff in my hand, pull my glove inside out. So now it's inside the glove. I still have one gloved hand if I have to touch anything more. And at the end I will end up pulling this other glove into my hand with the trash in it and I'm going to pull it inside out. (see video)
So now everything - without me having to touch it - is inside. And then I can throw it out. And of course I still have my sanitizer bottle so I can sanitize my fingers one more time. You know, just in case, you can't sanitize too much!
The other thing I didn't mention but is also in here are two more things. One is I keep extra pens that I'm going to let them have. I won't take them back. I asked them to provide their own pens, but sometimes they don't have them or they're not working. So I always make sure I have some extra ones that have been sanitized. Once they hold them, they're theirs. It's my gift to them.
And finally - a mask. Now, I do have this kind, I don't like it because it hurts my face. And then you pinch it. This is a contractors mask, and for painters. So it's like the N95 ones, nothing's coming through this! But you know what? This is killing me already just for the few minutes. So what I do is I might wear this for the few minutes. If I'm outside, I'm not going in their house. I don't feel like I need to have that much.
I have one of these fabric masks. It's going to go over my head. And then this part goes over my head, over my ears, and down it goes. So there's my mask and I use this to drive around when I'm in and out and about town in between assignments, go into the grocery store. I use this one. I'm staying away from people. I'm not in an enclosed area. I feel pretty confident.
If I'm going to be in a more enclosed area in somebody's house, then that's when I will probably use this one instead. (N95) So I have a supply of all those masks in my car, and those big boxes of gloves in my car. I have a box of the alcohol prep pads. But of course I keep a small amount in a little bag that I can put in my notary bags.
And let's talk about the notary bag for a moment. You know, we take our notary bag in, we put it on the ground. I don't know what's on the ground. So I have a plastic garbage bag basically that my bag sits in. So when I take it in their house, it sits in the garbage bag. So only the garbage bag is touching the floor, not the bottom of my bag. And I try not to take my purse if I can help it, but if I do have to bring it in, I make sure I have it either hang on my shoulder, or I hang it on the corner of the chair. I sanitize the corner of the chair that it's hanging on.
We just are not trying to create a sterile environment. That's not the goal. The goal is stay out of the projectile range of sneezes and coughs, number one. Number two, if something does happen that you've got something on your skin that it didn't reach your face. If you did get something on your hands or if you forget and touch your face, you've got protection right here cause you're touching the mask, not your face. Same thing with the gloves. I can handle the IDs when I'm wearing gloves. If I'm not gonna wear gloves, then I'm going to sanitize my hands, handle the ID, and sanitize my hands again.
So I'm doing a lot of extra sanitizing that way, but I will tell you that my clients feel safer when they see I have the gloves and I have a mask. The alcohol prep pads, that I've wiped down my journal before they use it and after they use it, that just the precautions that I'm taking. And a lot of them are really for me! It's not even for them, it's for me! But they feel confident and better about the whole situation cause they're already uncomfortable with me coming in their home.
But sometimes that's just how it needs to be. They can't be going outside. So make sure you have these extra tools and prepare yourself for the day for, you know, four or five assignments, however many you're doing, and put these little items that you need so you have them all in one bag all together. They're not floating around in your big old notary bag. And then maybe in your backseat or something, have an area where you have the refills, where you go back to the big box of gloves, the box of prep pads, all of that. Signers forget - as you're starting to talk - you forget - and you start getting closer and closer. Make sure that you've designated the space.
And if there's not enough space to be at the same table at the same time, it might be they go first, they step back, you go next, you step back. But I don't like that process. So what I did is I brought my own little table that I can move a little further away. And that way we're each in our own areas. I can see and talk to them. I can do my job a lot better. Six feet is about the length of me. I'm five foot 10. I'm only two inches short of six foot. So about my length is how far I need to be, you know, from my signer and they can hear me fine, they can see me fine. And if I'm doing loan documents, I have a stack, the same stack they have in the same order. They have it. They've got it. I can say, look, we're on page one and this is the note. And if we go down to page three, that's where you're going to see you're going to sign and you're going to date. Are you there? Do you see what I see? Great. Go ahead and sign.
So I can still micromanage what's happening at the table because I know what they're looking at. So these are just a few of the suggestions and for many of you, I'm sure you're doing all of them and you may have other creative ways that you've implemented to keep your signing safe as well.
But before I go, the two most important ones that I want to remind you. Number 1, screen before you get there! Ask the questions! Have you or anyone in your household been ill in the last 14 days? Have you come in contact with anyone who has? Because you don't want to walk in that door with that kind of thing being disclosed after the fact. And having health department calling you and saying, so-and-so is positive. And they said you were at their house yesterday. I don't want to get that kind of news. Number 2 is the social (physical) distancing. We're all doing our best to protect signers, but to protect ourselves mostly and to try to do some of the work that needs to get done out there.
I hope that this has been a little helpful. If you weren't sure about some of the ways you can protect yourself great. If you already know all of this, thank you for participating and keeping everybody safe. And until the next time,
Keep it safe!