26 April 2012


So in my spare time (heh. what's spare time?) I moonlight as a cashier at a local retail establishment (and by local I mean in the next town over?).

Side note: Because of the nature of the word I have always associated moonlighting with night jobs, but I checked the OED--there are no time of day restrictions on the use of the word. Which is good because my "regular" job is my night job, and my "moonlighting" job is my day job (I know, it makes no sense--but such is life)

Back to my story. A customer came up to my register one day this week and after giving me a nice compliment (it's always nice to be appreciated) we chatted for a minute about signatures while he signed for his purchase. He mentioned how a signature is kind of like the way you make your mark on the world. (A symbol of yourself if you will). Our conversation was fairly short, not much more than him making that statement and me agreeing because it seemed reasonable. But I've been thinking about it since then and thinking how really our signature is a reflection of who we are (as well as the society that we are from). I think it would be an interesting study to study the ways that people sign their name in different cultures to see what it tells about that culture. For example I think that a collection of signatures from people in the US would tell a lot about the fast paced environment we live in. I mean how often do you see people with truly beautiful signatures anymore? (Incidentally, this customer's signature was very beautiful--he was from China, I think.) Today so many people when they have to sign their name sign nothing more than a scribble, not a single identifiable letter present. But when you see signatures from bygone eras you can really tell that they put some time and effort into it. Look at the signatures of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Nearly every one of them is identifiable, and if it's not its more because they're too close together than because of any neglect on the signer's part.

Imagine trying to forge Benjamin Franklin's signature...
I am proud to say that when I sign my name it is 98% legible (sometimes I put in too many o's or too many humps on the m...). Unfortunately, I don't think that my signature reflects who I am in the way that I wish it did, I have some work ahead of me to improve it. I really believe that our signature is a reflection of who we are (whether in this digital age we realize it or not) and I think that it would behoove humanity to take a moment to reflect on not only who we are, but who the persona is that we present to the world. I think that someone who takes the time to sign their name properly on even the most meaningless slip of paper is probably someone who takes pride in who they are and is probably making the effort to keep their life in good order.

I think this shift between caring about our signatures and barely even taking enough time to scribble on a page may have something to do with the shift between the "culture of character" and the "culture of personality" talked about in Susan Cain's book Quiet. This just occurred to me, so I think I'm going to have to ruminate on this some more and come back to it another time.

If you signature is a symbol of yourself, what does yours day about you?

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