Becoming a Notary Public in Tennessee is a fairly simple and easy process.
You go to the County Clerk’s office or, in some cases, their website, get the application, fill-it out in front of a Notary, and file it with the Clerk and pay the application fee.
If you don’t have any disqualifying factors (as spelled out on the application), the county legislative body (the County Commission in Shelby County) elects you and sends notice of your election to the Secretary of State, who then gets the Governor to commission you with state-wide authority.
Your Commission document is sent from the statehouse to the County Clerk, who sends you a letter, advising you to come in and take the oath of office & sign the book & bring your bond.
Once you know your Commission dates, you get a $10,000 errors & omissions insurance policy and a $10,000 Notary bond from whatever insurance agency you choose. You take the bond with you (after copying it for your records) and turn it in when you get your Commission from the Clerk.
After that, you need a rubber stamp seal, as detailed in Tennesse state law and the Notary Handbook, which you can find on the Secretary of State’s website. You can order the seal online or at many office supply stores. As of October 1, 2014, you need a Notary Journal to record your official acts (before that you only needed one if you charged — now you need one whether you charge or not).
That’s it. No class, no test. So, no big deal, right?
The office of Notary Public has roots stretching back to the days of ancient Rome. For thousands of years, an Official Witness has been required for transactions large and small. That is the role the Notary Public plays — Official Witness.
In modern days, you will find very few significant business transactions that don’t require a Notary.
When the Notary does their job properly, they can help prevent fraud, by insuring that those whose names are on the documents actually signed them and that they were not under the influence of any substances or person which might impair their judgment. This is why the National Notary Association frequently refers to the Notary as playing a role in fighting identity theft & fraud.
In any case, for over a decade, my primary source of income has been based upon my being a Notary. I am a Notary Signing Agent (I handle loan closing for lenders, title companies, attorneys and signing services) and a traveling Notary Public (I bring Notary services to people where they are almost anywhere in Shelby County).
Being a Notary Public is a way to serve the public AND a way to make a living, when you combine it with other roles that require a Notary.
The whole point of having a title is that it means you are authorized to do the work and expected to do the work.
As I have the title and I do the work, I believe it is appropriate to use the title wherever I can.
So, when I noticed various not-exactly-household-name authors putting Author in front of their name on Facebook, I decided to take a page from their book and follow suit.
It’s not that they are bragging about being an author. It’s more that they want you to know how they see themselves. If the topic under discussion is related to writing, it is relevant that they are an Author. If not, well, they are still who they are, and that includes being an Author.
In the same way, I am a Notary all the time, but it is only relevant when the topic has something to do with Notary practice. Otherwise, the title is there in case you are in my jurisdiction and need my services — and because it is a part of how I see myself.
It is also there to distinguish me from any other Tim Gatewood on Facebook, as I am the only one with my name AND title on Facebook.
I almost never bring my titles into a topic. And you can be sure that when someone else does, it is to attack me because they disagree with my message.
The term for attacking the messenger, rather than dealing with the message, is ad hominem, meaning against the person. Whenever you engage in an ad hominem attack, you admit that your argument failed — you lost and now you are just trying to distract people from the facts.
So, I will continue to be Notary Tim Gatewood on Facebook (and @notarytim on Twitter) and may the Good Lord Bless anyone who objects.