Haji’s Hardware Store and Notary Public

I went on a fun mini-adventure today.  Before visiting Central Station and picking up a patch, I went on a wild goose chase in search of a notary.  I had to get some paperwork signed that will allow my parents to sign documents and make business transactions on my behalf while I’m gone.  This will allow my empire to run smoothly while I’m gone without having to ship documents back and forth across the Pacific.  It’s not easy being a hundredaire.

The forms required several signatures and notarization.  I assumed that getting the forms notarized would be as simple as walking to the Bank of America branch beside my sister’s apartment and requesting an appointment with a notary.  Unfortunately, the branch did not have a notary in house.  Two of the three other banks also didn’t have a notary.  The one that did, Bank of the West, was not willing to notarize my forms.

The manager at Wells Fargo, Kevin, told me that he did not have a notary on his staff, but he was willing to help anyway.  Kevin told me that there was a copy store on the next block with a notary.  I walked to North Beach Copy, but they were closed for the week.  I returned to Wells Fargo and asked Kevin if he had any more ideas.  After a quick Google search, he found a notary business a few miles away in the Tenderloin District.  Kevin called the business, set an appointment for me, wrote down the address, and sent me on my way.

I hailed a cab and read the address to the driver.  After a short ride, I found myself standing on a super sketchy street on the edge of the Tenderloin District.  If you’re not familiar with San Francisco, the Tenderloin is a notoriously bad neighborhood about a mile south of North Beach.

I walked to the end of the block, where I found an address that matched what Kevin wrote down.  I looked up and was surprised to find a sign for Haji’s Hardware.  I looked closer and noticed that a smaller sign that read “Notary Public.”  This was it.

I walked inside an old hardware store, where a 60-something middle-eastern man (I’m guessing Egyptian) sat behind a desk on an old wooden stool.  He pointed to an old stool beside him and said, “the executive chair is ready for you, sir.”  This was Haji.

Haji might be the most friendly old man I have ever met.  He moved slowly, spoke softly, and smiled every time I looked up from my paperwork.  He placed a small bowl between us and placed a pen in the bowl.  Next, he asked me to “kindly pick up the pen and hold it.”  For the rest of the process, we used the bowl in lieu of handing things to one another.  I paid him by placing cash in the bowl and then he placed my change and receipt in the bowl.

A woman interrupted our “meeting” as he was preparing to stamp my documents.  She appeared to be homeless, wearing an old coat, heavy gloves, and dirty jeans.  After looking at a rack of snacks on the counter for a few minutes, the woman pulled some change out of her pocket.  She counted it repeatedly, apparently looking for a snack that she could afford.  She asked Haji how much one of the items cost.  He pulled it off the rack, handed it to her, and told her to take it and go (in a polite voice).  When he returned to the desk Haji smiled and asked, “that was a fair price, right?”

At the end of our conversation, during which I referred to him only as “sir”, he thanked me for being polite.  He said, “you have very good Karma and I wish good things upon you.”  It seemed a bit odd that a man named Haji was telling me about Karma, but it was flattering nonetheless.  Meeting Haji made the whole ordeal worthwhile.

Until next time.


This photo was taken on the street in the Tenderloin District. This was taken about two blocks away from Haji's. I didn't take this picture, but it is an accurate representation of the neighborhood in which I found myself today.

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