Monday, November 22, 2010

How crazy would I have to make my signature before someone would actually notice?


Amusing post re-blogged from


In my lifetime, I have made nearly 15,000 credit card transactions. I purchase almost everything on plastic. What bugs me about credit card transactions is the signing. Who checks the signature? Nobody checks the signature.

Credit card signatures are a useless mechanism designed to make you feel safe, like airport security checks. So my question was, how crazy would I have to make my signature before someone would actually notice? Here is the actual signature on my credit card:


You can see that I already have the signature of a monkey on crack. Here is the way it looks when I don't have to sign in a space one-quarter of an inch high:


I am an arteest, and my signature must reflect that. But how arteestic could I get before someone will notice?

On the topic of credit card signatures, ZUG reader Fronzel Neekburm recently shared this anecdote:

I don't sign my credit cards. Once I went to check into a hotel and the girl checked the back of the card and said it wasn't signed. I signed it there in front of her, and she checked it with the register receipt I also signed in front of her. THANK GOD THEY MATCHED!

I spent several weeks seeing how wacky I could make my signature before someone would pay attention. Again, my regular signature, which looks like that of a homeless clown:


First, I decided to get a little artistic.


Then I decided to get wicked artistic.


You have no idea how strange it is to have the teenage counter clerk at Bertucci's watching you scribble fiercely on a piece of paper, as if you wished to purge the evil that is your signature. Then I smiled and handed him back his pen.

Next time I bought something that required a signature, I considered just creating a rectangle of solid black. Then I thought a grid might be weirder:


Only the most Matrix-obsessed fanboy would actually use a grid for his signature, but the chick at the Cheesecake Factory didn't look twice. I mean, I didn't even have on a trenchcoat.

What if I went the other way? How minimal would my signature have to be before someone would notice?

Again for reference: my regular signature, which looks like it was drawn by an unusually talented chicken.


Next I tried the old standby, "X." I was kind of nervous about this one, and had a long story prepared about how I had recently been involved in a motorcycle accident, and during my sixteen months in traction had only been able to sign with an X, a signature which grew on me. At the last minute, I chickened out and added an additional squiggly. I don't know why I was concerned; I was just buying a beer at Jillian's.


Signing X, incidentally, is not a bad idea -- it's quick and easy, and if someone wants you to "sign on the X," it's already signed.

Next, I took a suggestion from ZUG reader Nutbutter, and tried signing with a stick figure. Before the server came back to my table, though, I decided it looked too lonely, so I tried drawing a little landscape. I forgot that I have the artistic ability of a piece of toast.


(That thing that looks like a penis is supposed to be a flower.)

Finally, I know of no law that says your signature has to be in your own alphabet. So I found a website which converted my name to Egyptian hieroglyphics. Although "John Hargrave" was too long to remember, "John" was just snake, bird, caterpillar:




The counter clerk at the salon was busy with a phone call, and didn't notice. On my way out the door, I realized it would have been funnier if I had signed it "Ra." Which got me to thinking: what if I didn't even sign with my own name?

Once more, my regular signature, which looks like it was drawn by a freebasing weasel:


So far, I had tried altering my signature in a number of ways, but what if I didn't even sign my own name? First, I lobbed a slow ball:


The waitress at the restaurant didn't say anything, probably because I am mistaken for Mariah Carey all the time. Except for the goatee and the back hair, we are like twins.

Next I decided to try:


The composer or the dog; you decide.

I cheated on this one, leaving it on the table and high-tailing it out of there. I expected a phone call from someone, maybe Beethoven's Hollywood agent, but once again I discovered that no one cared. Except, possibly, Lassie, who could use the publicity.

Drunk with power, I signed this on my next grocery shopping trip:


I think that's a somewhat effeminate signature for the leader of the gods, but I was in a hurry. The kid at the Trader Joe's looked strangely at the receipt, then back up at me, as if to say, "Are you really him?" I trucked out of there before he could ask, and in my haste to escape, nearly ran over an eight year-old standing in the doorway. I apologized, which was a dead giveaway, since the real Zeus would have just fried the kid with lightning. I'm such a fake Zeus.

Where could I go from here? The readers of ZUG had some suggestions…..

See how this fascinating fraud spree ends by reading the original article here


It just goes to show that you shouldn’t leave your credit card processing to chance, especially if you have multiple personality disorder (I’m still trying to get one personality but I can dream can’t I?)
Enjoy! ~ Michele


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