March 11, 2005

Sign Here, Please

Its Friday. Which is a good thing because boy is my wrist tired. Hey. Don’t jump to conclusions, people. You see, we refinanced our house last night. Any of you who’ve purchased a house or refinanced one know that the process requires putting your John Hancock on approximately 348,201 documents, most of which are written in lawyerly talkyspeak that essentially say “give us cash or we’ll do bad shit.”

Aside #1: Its common here but do you think the John Hancock idiom is universal? Like, maybe there’s some Japanese financial analyst who’s asking clients for their John Hancocks? Or Bollywood stars being asked for their John Hancocks in little autograph books? Do you think they know who John Hancock is? Do you know who John Hancock is?

The amount of paper we had to sign was astonishing. There’s a forest missing in the West somewhere because we decided to refinance. Had we decided to read absolutely every word of every document, we’d still be there. But we tried – the side-effect of being married to a woman who used to work for a lawyer. Still, I’m afraid to go through the documents again. There’s an off-chance I might have agreed to give up a kidney, forfeit my house to a group of neo-Nazi midgets or commit to being a session musician on Michael Bolton’s next album. Maybe ignorance is bliss.

Aside #2: While its true that he did have a vaguely dirty sounding name in a very junior high school way, John Hancock was actually a swell guy. Ok, that’s not true. According to all reports, the guy was a prick. But he was a patriotic prick. Hancock was born on January 12, 1737 in the small, unfortunately named Massachusetts town of Braintree. Years later and after the astonishing success of the television show starring TV legend Jack Klugman, the town’s name was changed to Quincy. Hancock, the Massachusetts representative to the Continental Congress, played a large role in state and Colonial politics beginning in 1766. This relentless activity continued until his death in 1793. He died while serving as the state’s governor. His signature on the Declaration of Independence is the largest and most easily recognizable.

Posted by Chris at March 11, 2005 07:25 AM

I know how you feel concerning the forest in the mid west sacrificed for your refinancing, not to mention the lawyer-tpe jargon (does ANYONE understand that crap?). We are in the process of buying land and I am sure I signed away at least three vital organs and the parental rights to our first born child. Ah well - I guess it was worth it *philosophical sigh*

Posted by: DaFFy at March 11, 2005 08:00 AM

I love history. If you read about our founding fathers, they were an earthy bunch to say the least! To me it makes it more real what they did knowing that these were men on no higher moral ground, they had a conviction, and in there own earthy very human way, they made that conviction happen. Just goes to show you what ordinary men and women can do under extraordinary circumstances. Anyway, (that was a wee bit off the point heehee) congrats on the re-financing, anything to do with financing causes you to become VERY familiar with your hanwriting :-)

Posted by: Nina at March 11, 2005 08:03 AM

Everybody knows John Hancock was the inventor of Life Insurance. Duh.

Posted by: melman at March 11, 2005 08:17 AM

sorry, i have nothing witty to add... but i did want to ask if you've read the John Adams book (by David McCullough), it took me awhile to get through but it gave me an entirely new view of our founding fathers.
i used to live in Quincy (pronounced quin-zee) and while it's become a smelly city, it still has it's charm.

Posted by: monique at March 11, 2005 08:40 AM

That poor forest.

Posted by: Autumn at March 11, 2005 08:53 AM

There's still a Braintree, MA. It's really near Boston, surprise, surprise.

And who did your title insurance, may I ask? ;) Are you tenants by the entirety?

Posted by: alektra at March 11, 2005 08:54 AM

Lemme answer your curiosity about awareness of John Hancock in the "rest of the world" When I moved to this country, I lived right across the John Hancock bldg in Chicago (oh! good times!) but never heard of him! Nor was I aware of the idiom... for say about a week of arriving in Chicago :) And this was 10 years ago.

So there... that's the awareness :)

Posted by: Luna at March 11, 2005 08:57 AM

oh GOD. I swear the company I work for is the reason rainforests are being demolished. We go through REAMS AND REAMS AND REAMS of paper. We recycle, and can order recycled paper, but it's still like "oh my god. where did all these trees come from!?"

I go through files DAILY that have AT LEAST 100 pages of paper. and sometimes? we have to make COPIES when they get TWO loans. lol. not to mention our copy machines are pieces of junk, and they like to eat paper, or jam up so we make even more copies than we need on some things.

wow. i didn't meant to turn this into a rant about paper, but seriously, I know what you mean. *g* (oh, how i do love my job though. much better than what i WAS doing!!)

Posted by: Manda at March 11, 2005 09:14 AM

When we bought our house last July, everyone kept making comments like, "Make sure you exercise your hand before the big day!" and "Your arm is going to be SO tired after the huge stack of papers you have to sign!"

Honestly? It wasn't that much. When we were finished I actually said out loud, "That's it?!" I really was expecting more. So either the contracts down in Texas aren't as big as the ones in DC or they add more paper when you refinance. Either way, I probably won't find out for a couple more years. :P

Posted by: Kitty at March 11, 2005 09:50 AM

someday, everything bothersome, like forms, will be in PDF format. but not books. books have to stay printed. reading on screen will never compare with reading print.

Posted by: jodi at March 11, 2005 10:06 AM

See that's what's so perfect about being illiterate. All I had to do was sign all my mortgage papers with a huge "X". By the way, my cat typed this out for me since I am illiterate afterall. :)

Posted by: groovebunny at March 11, 2005 10:11 AM

Poor Beth and Chris wristies! I'll send you some icy hot cream. I have to use it on my knees, and not because I sign stuff with my toes. It's the running thing that jacks my knees up. Just thought I'd share ;)

Posted by: Gweny at March 11, 2005 10:40 AM

I knew who John Hancock was, but before I could gleefully crow about it, you went and posted who he is, so now I have absolutely no way of proving it.

Um, thanks?

Posted by: jenorama at March 11, 2005 10:48 AM

My aside: John Hancock is my great-great-great... grandfather. Totally random, I know.

Posted by: Terri at March 11, 2005 10:50 AM

Check out "Founding Brothers" by Joseph Ellis; good book about Hancock's posse T-Jeff, A-Ham, The Notorious B.E.N. and Snoop Johnny John (hey, just because they wore powered wigs didn't mean they weren't down).

I believe that Japan's version of "Can I get your John Hancock?" is "Can I get your Chairman Kaga?"

Posted by: Jason Avant at March 11, 2005 11:02 AM

I had no idea who John Hancock was... I guess that outside the U.S., not many people know about him and his significance in American history. Thanks for sharing though :)

Posted by: Kyren at March 11, 2005 11:04 AM

If Michael Bolton takes that album on tour, I'm totally going.

Posted by: bmh at March 11, 2005 11:09 AM

Was he a prick because he was called Hancock or was he called Hancock because he was a prick?

Posted by: Amber at March 11, 2005 11:10 AM

Everytime I hear John Hancock I think of the Lesley Neilson movie, "Repossesed" (spoof on the exorcist).

The father was explaining to his son that a person's last name in the colonial era relfected their trade. Blacksmith, carpenter, etc... And his son replied with, "Well what did John Hancock do?" Simple minded I know!!!

I lived in Quincy and passed all these places and still never visited. However, now living in Salem I've taken complete advantage of learning the town's sordid history!

Posted by: Azzy at March 11, 2005 11:35 AM

You think that's bad, when I was married to my first husband we bought a house while he was overseas so I had to sign all the documents with my name AND his name (but for his name I had to write "His Name, by My Name, his attorney in fact"). I think my pen ran out of ink. Then I got to move everything by myself and take care of the kids too. Good times.

Congrats on the refi!

Posted by: Ms.Q at March 11, 2005 11:57 AM

I always ask for their 'autograph' when i am at the cash wrap of my 2nd job [or any where else i need to ask for a signature]. i've been told that it makes them [people in general] feel famous or special. it's all about the customer anyways right? =)

Posted by: angel at March 11, 2005 12:33 PM

I have said it before, if all we had in leadership (of the country, of corporations, of your kid's school) were nice guys, we'd be in a sore state. It takes men and women who are focused on numbers, goals and accomplishments to the exclusion of niceties to get things done sometimes. That said, thank goodness for the nice guys too. :-)

Posted by: Bond Girl at March 11, 2005 01:18 PM

If they didn't give you free prezzies for signing all that shit, you need a new mortgage company. Mine gave me gifts and gourmet fruit in the mail and brownies FedEx'd to the house.

I love them. ;)

Posted by: Iki at March 11, 2005 02:33 PM

Congrats on the refi. And, you just reminded me of an interesting bit of Continental Congress trivia I have to put on my blog.

Posted by: etherian at March 11, 2005 03:41 PM

[Hi there. A follower from Mazing Amy's blog here.]

Confused the hell out of me when someone asked me for my "John Hancock". Okay, they don't teach you that in English classes in Thailand.

On the cultural oddity tangent: In Thai, informally, to sign your name is to "senn" your name. "Senn chue"--chue means name--instead of the formall "lonng chue", literally means put your name down. I think the "senn" is yet another derived word from Western languages. you got me thinking about all those Thai/Western words and where they come from. Research!

Posted by: Oakley at March 11, 2005 05:37 PM

Wait a minute, I thought it was Herbie Hancock?

Posted by: smartjuice at March 11, 2005 06:09 PM

Arrrgh! I can relate - we changed financial institutions last year - my wrist is still recovering!

Posted by: Marie at March 11, 2005 06:37 PM

Just a correction here about John Hancock, and who he REALLY was. He's the guy that invented maple syrop. Whathaving your john hancock on a dotted means is sorta weird? I have visions of maple syrop splatted all over everything.

Posted by: shaners at March 11, 2005 06:43 PM

We use the whole "John Hancock" thing up here in Canadia, but I don't think too many people know who he is though. I do though, cuz I'm smarter than your average bear. ;)

Posted by: Heather at March 11, 2005 07:31 PM

He might have been a prick, but he was the most popular one of our revolution! Boston Tea Party! Yippee! Quote on signing the Declaration he commented, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward." *snicker* Thank Gawd our fore-fathers were NOT politically correct or we would all be British!

Posted by: Gypsy at March 12, 2005 01:26 AM

yeah i remember when we closed on the condo, it was awful "sign here" and "here".....yikes, i don't even know what i was signing, which is incredibly ignorant, but true. at least you sound like your all done, so your wrist should be feeling better :)

Posted by: lizabetty at March 14, 2005 03:21 PM