Our signatures don't have to say anything

When news pundits last week poked fun at U.S. Treasury secretary nominee Jack Lew’s handwriting style, I felt like screaming, “Let my people go!”


His signature, a horizontal coiled spring, looked exactly like the exercises my grade school teachers made me practice as they pushed me off the physical cliff of printing into the depths of cursive writing.

I never mastered those tornadic coils, so my writing today is exactly what chickens would render in scratchings if they had fingers and thumbs.

Because it’s such a chore to write legibly, I haven’t signed my complete name in years. I start off with a G (but a print G, not a cursive G) and then reduce the rest of my first name to a wavy line. The same goes for my last name – a capital M and then a chunk of the Atlantic.

The banks have never complained, nor have the autograph seekers (OK, the bill collectors), so I don’t fault Jack Lew for his quirky penmanship. Whatever gets you through the night, as they say.

Now, some people do seem to have trouble signing their names, such as the guy in front of me the other day at the bank drive-through lane. I picked one of several lanes having one vehicle in it and waited. You know what happened next, because you’ve been there.

On both sides of me, customers deposited or withdrew cash by means of the pneumatic tube and drove away. Not the fellow with the apparent hand cramp ahead of me. He would receive his papers in the tube, count money and then write something down and send the tube back again. He did this over and over, while I sat there hemmed in by the cars behind me. To my left and right, drivers pulled up and drove away, going on to lead productive lives with their families and careers.

I don’t know whether the cashier kept rejecting the slow guy’s signature or whether he was cashing the paychecks of his 1,400 co-workers, but he took forever. He was ignoring the Prime Rule of Drive-Throughs: “If you’re going to take a long time, then get out and walk inside, lazy.”

I’m sure he’s the same guy who, as a friend pointed out, pulls up to a McDonald’s and asks the squawk box, “So, what do you have to eat?”

By the time I sent the cashier a check and she asked whether I needed anything else, I could only reply, “No, that’s enough.” I know I sounded rude, but by then I felt I had put in an eight-hour day at the bank and was ready to clock out and go home.

At the house, I grabbed my wife’s hands and said, “We no longer have car payments. Let’s jump up and down!”

I did, but she just stood there and rotated as I danced the fool.

“Why aren’t you jumping?” I asked.

“I am jumping,” she said, her feet planted on the floor. “Anyway, I’m just glad they took your check, what with the way you sign your name.”