Every once in a while, I like to step into the skin of someone who enjoys doing good things and sign up for volunteer work using their nicotine-stained fingers. Especially if the work is easy and doesn’t require me to lift giant bags of mulch or stand near a log-splitter while donning zero safety gear. So last fall when an email was sent out to our office asking for volunteers to help out with a pro bono will drafting event, I was like, “hmm, tell me more.” They needed people to fill three separate roles, one of which only required the volunteer to be able to sign their own name over and over again.
Hello, I LOVE signing my name! If you take me to a restaurant with a paper placemat and crayons, I will write the SHIT out of my name on that thing. If you call me on the phone, you can BE 100% FOR CERTAIN that I am on the other end of the line, scribbling my name over and over again on a scratch pad, receipt, or important Henry documents.
Sadly, it was then rescheduled for a day that I couldn’t do it! (The day after MY CHAINSAW INCIDENT, to be exact. Wow, a blog post that references log splitters and chainsaws, it’s like I’m a wilderness blogger now.) My friends Lauren and Nate had signed up with me but they were still available for the rescheduled date so not only was I working through some chainsaw-induced PTSD at my hair appointment, I was having major signature-scrawling FOMO and was dying to know how it was going for them. But then I found out the following Monday that the rescheduled date was also canceled so I ended up not missing anything after all!
None of that is even important. Sometimes I just get lost in my head and can’t stop typing unnecessary things. This always happened in school too, when I would turn in papers. They’d come back with entire paragraphs marked up in red, like IS THIS REALLY RELEVANT? And you know what TEACHER PERSON, maybe to me it is!!
Words words words words.
Finally, the event was rescheduled again and this time it stuck. One of the people from my firm who helped organize it was even on the news to spread awareness so that made me not only super proud and more stoked to be participating, but it also made me fully understand the event more because we all know that I’m a classic case of email-skimmer.
This organization was started by an attorney post-911 who wanted to be able to help out his local fire department, and it was determined that there was an overwhelming need for estate planning services. So, Wills for Heroes was born and honestly, I’m getting a little emotional just thinking about what a good cause this is, and how much of a burden it must lift for first responders and their families.
I mean, would I have been even happier if this was, I dunno, a Wills for Pets event? Well, sure. Pets over People all day long.
I didn’t consider the fact, when signing up, that an 8am start time meant that I would have to get up at least at 6:30 on a stupid weekend morning, which is, let me reiterate, stupid. Then I was miserable because of that and I got snippy with Henry and peeled out of the driveway at 7:25am like a big bitch baby, and then had to drive IN THE RAIN ON THAT ONE BIG ROAD THROUGH THE DUMB SQUIRREL HILL TUNNELS to the scene of the signings (some fire hall in Penn Hills).
My favorite part was when no one wanted to be the first to get out of their cars, but then Lauren arrived and walked over to my car, so I got out and then one by one, other people followed us to the front door – LOCKED. So, then we all walked in a line to a side door and for some reason, no one tried to open it? We all just stood there assuming it was locked? So then when some guy ON THE INSIDE saw us and opened the door, he asked, “Oh, was it locked?” and everyone said yes but me because DID WE KNOW FOR SURE THAT IT WAS LOCKED? So then it turned into a Thing where we all went up to the banquet room and the organizers were like, “Was the door locked?” and everyone said YES (??) so then it became an issue, and they sent someone down to stand there I guess because it became a concern that the door was locking automatically and again DID ANYONE EVEN CHECK TO SEE IF IT WAS ACTUALLY LOCKED? I think the best thing they could have done was taped a sign on both doors (front and side) with instructions on where to go.
But that’s just me thinking logistically.
Anyway, we were quickly filled in on what to do and then we got to grab treats from the spread of breakfast foods. I chose a blueberry muffin but it for sure had something else in it, pineapples?!, I can’t be sure what it was but it was a really fucking delicious muffin which made it even worse when I later found out that the treats were from Oakmont Bakery, which I BOYCOTT because they are a bunch of gross Trump supporters. I hate when I’m not true to my morals.
Nate and I lost Lauren to another table because each station only needed one notary and two witnesses. Lauren was like, “I do not need ether one of you as a crutch, bye” and this is so true because Lauren can literally talk to anyone in any situation. Meanwhile, Nate and I got a notary from the smaller firm that was co-hosting this event, and while she was very nice, it was also pretty clear that she was not interested in chatting with us all day, but that didn’t stop us from trying! Let’s just say she knows all about my Seoul subway sign that Henry is redoing and then when Nate baited me into telling her about how my house is….different, she laughed and said, “No wonder you have weirdos attracted to your house!” because I had also told her previously that I think my block is built atop of a Native American burial ground since so many fucked up, crazy things happen here, lol.
Wow, I am really telling this story out of order.
Let me back up and tell you that our notary, Sheri, asked very early on if we had a notary at our table and we said no. “You do now!” she said, setting her stuff down and then leaving to mingle with people she knew. While Nate and I were getting a coffee refill, some other lady came and sat down on the other side of the table! The table that was meant for the clients to sit!
“Who is this interloper??” I hissed to Nate, and he was like, “Station 4 IS FULL, GO AWAY.” I mean, he said that to me under his breath, not to her face. So, we went back to our table and she just like, sat there forever and I was starting to panic because we didn’t need her. She even asked if we were both notaries and I said, “No we’re witnesses. This table’s notary is over there,” and pointed over my shoulder but then she kept sitting there.
“I wonder what will happen when a married couple comes over,” the lady said, because there were only 2 chairs on her side of the table AND SHE WAS SITTING IN ONE.
“Yeah, I think the notary is supposed to sit on our side of the table,” I said, and she completely ignored me and said, “I guess I can find an extra chair to drag over.”
Nate and I were side-eyeing each other so hard, like, “How is this going to play out??” I mean, honestly, of course the balance of OUR table would get thrown off. I can never go anywhere and just have things work the way they are supposed to. If I’m involved, it’s like the Universe says, “OK, I see your Awkwardness, and I’ll raise you another Awkwardness plus 2 Self Unawarenesses.”
Is that right? I don’t play Poker.
Long story short, she ended up not taking the hint and stayed there even after our actual notary came back and sat down, but it ended up being amazing because we somehow got on the subject of California – Nate was talking about how he grew up in the city where Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was based (he couldn’t remember Alex Winter’s name and said, “Help me out here, Erin” so I did) and then our auxiliary notary said she lived in Hollywood for some time in the 80s and 90s and then regaled us with really interesting stories about celebrity run-ins (“And then that one guy from SNL, ugh what is his name, he played that flamboyant character” and no one could think of it but then five minutes later I blurted out CHRIS KATTAN and the relief I felt was indescribable. “Wow, you must be really good at trivia,” Hollywood said and I twirled my hair, shrugged, and said, “I mean…”) and then after an hour, she said, “You know, I’m going to ask if I can just leave since there’s already enough notaries.”
We did not want her to leave. We needed her. But she left us. And then there were long and great lulls in the conversation from that point on.
We weren’t constantly with clients – there were maybe 3 or 4 appointments happening at once over at the attorney tables, and they took at least 45 minutes, so there was a lot of just sitting around and waiting for the next opportunity to sign our names over and over. (I was so fucking good at it, too. Wait, let me think back — yeah, I was so fucking good.)
Lauren’s table sounded like they were having lively conversations all day long. Sigh.
When I was about to take this picture of Nate, Lauren ran over to get into it too and I yelled (literally, I yelled this and our notary was like, “oh” and nervously laughed), “You’re not Station 4, Lauren!” so Lauren ran back and snatched her table’s sign and I was like, “OK FINE YOU WIN.”
I was lowkey panicked the entire day though because I don’t have a Will. But I’m also not a hero (I know what you’re thinking: But Erin, you escorted that drunk lady to her friends house and you saved that moth on Brookline Blvd that one time!) so I did not qualify for a FREE WILL.
“And then she said…” OH HO HO HO HO HO.
I blocked out the faces of the clients here because I’m a mature & decent blogger (I know, wtf right??). The rest of us all signed media release forms and technically I could be considered media (in some circles maybe?!) so…
But I really wanted to share this one because it was taken while my table, good ol’ Station 4, was limping through the process for the first time that day. It was…a rough start but WOULD YOU LOOK AT HOW PROFESH I LOOK SHUFFLING THAT PAPER STACK? My second job, after the most important job of autographing/witnessing was stapling all of the important documents and stuffing them into a very SMART blue folder for the clients.
The lawyer who was supervising the process (Molly–I loved her!) said, “you’re doing a great job, my dear” to me MULTIPLE TIMES. I didn’t hear her saying that to Nate, not that this is a competition or anything.
(It is though.)
When our first client sat down at our table, Nate and I exclaimed that he was our first one and he was like “Oh boy” and chuckled, but then a MISTAKE WAS MADE (not our fault) and one of the papers needed to be reprinted so he was like, “Boy. When yinz said this was your first time, I thought you were being sarcastic!” NOPE.
Don’t worry – it all went uphill from there!
Except when the lunch was served, and I realized that there were 4 different varieties of sandwiches, but THEY WERE ALL MEAT. I was pretty sad about this because my 6:30am wake-up call + too much coffee + nerves from talking to people + only having a muffin as prior sustenance was really making me feel jittery and I definitely needed food. I ended up snagging a banana from the table (and honestly, it was one of the most perfect bananas I’ve ever eaten non-sexually) but Nate kept trying to get me to let him eat the meat off a sandwich so I could have the bread but I did not want to CAUSE A SCENE. Sheri said that someone else there was also a vegetarian so that seems like enough people to start a pity party.
Then we spent some downtime trying to help Sheri pick a restaurant for her birthday dinner that night. I wonder where she ended up going….
Finally, around 1:00pm, Molly brought over the last client and both my station and Lauren’s station was open so Molly said, “OK who wants her?” Lauren’s table was like “Us!” but I was like, “No way I can single-handedly do so much better than that” so I waved around like an inflatable tube man in front of a mattress store and fucking HOLLERED, “Ooooh! Us! Pick us! Station 4!!!” and the client (this super cute older woman in a deep purple velour leisure suit) pointed at me and calmly said, “I’ll go there.”
Well, it turned out there was actually one more client and they ended up going to Lauren’s table because our velour’d cutie was still with us. After our client was all squared away, Molly said we were free to leave, except that we wanted to wait for Lauren so we could all walk together like the clique that we are.
But even after their client was done and gone, Lauren had to go around and say goodbye to the people she knew there from our firm (fun fact: our department is like the black sheep of the firm and even when we were fully in office, we never really had a need to venture off of our floor so face-to-face interactions with other people never occurred often, but Lauren started out in a different department before moving to ours, so she actually had to move around between floors and talk to people Therefore, she knows way more people than Nate and me.
So, Nate and I just stood in the background with our arms crossed, sighing heavily, waiting for Lauren to stop chatting so we could leave.
“I feel like I’m at the store with my mom, and every time I think we’re finally going to leave, she runs into someone else she knows, you know?” Nate said to me, and I agreed but in reality, my mom would be quickly leaving the aisle, covering her face with a copy of the Enquirer, sticking her head in the TV dinner freezer, or ducking behind a bushel of apples anytime she saw someone she knew, so….no, Nate, no I don’t know.
Anyway, I have now been writing this for 4 days, in fits and starts, no proofreading, so I can only imagine how chaotic and janky this reads. But the main takeaway is that I did something good. What a fucking sweetheart.