a mobile notary public

Stela Xhiku 

Photo:  Jonno Rattman

Charles Segure, Mobile Notary Public, has recommendations.

The first is Pino's La Forchetta Pizza—that’s “the BEST pizza in Brooklyn,” to you. And to anyone who calls Charles on his listed number. Pino’s is his virtual office, a Park Slope joint where his clients often meet him and where we talk on a Tuesday evening.

The place is a *chef kiss* pepperoni playpen, a parmigiana child care center, with small muzzarrells stretching disrespectfully on the seats. Why are kids always so exhausted? I wonder bitterly. They are the sort that make enough eye contact to force a “hi” out of your mouth.

“I love kids,” says Charles, “So glad I don’t have any.”

He’s taking calls at the center table. Taking calls, and answering my dogged questions. Mostly, I am diligent about knowing the daily details of notarizing. I can’t stop rerouting back to my initial questions, how many hours do you typically work a week? Have you witnessed many wills? This is because my own workday has me wired, bug-eyed and missing the point. Here Charles is right in front of me, and I’m after numerics.

What’s important is Charles—Charles who asks me questions about my teeth-straightening, and tells about his clients: “He had a rat in a cage. It was a pet rat. The cage door was open, it was just chilling.”

His enunciating voice and steadying gaze have a balming, sedative effect. It’s so potent that I take us to Starbucks for a coffee and bananas. That was the plan, until the price on those bananas had Charles and I big-mistake, hugeing the barista and strutting to the next door deli, where Charles tends to grab his late night snack of bananas and ice cream.

Then—and this is all within the same block of Park Slope—we sit on a outdoor bench of the Connecticut Muffin, which affords a rain-proof view of Charles’ realm and leisurely access to his constituents. We pet some dogs; we don’t kiss any babies; we see a jovial Jesuit priest carrying groceries from the Key Food, where the two always run into each other. We run into Mick, a British-New Yorker and one of Charles’s oldest friends—“He is a perfect gentleman all the time and he can play the didley doo,” says Charles by way of introduction. Mick’s 9 year-old daughter super-soaked Charles at the Block Party of 1996, and now his dog, Babette, growls at Charles. “She doesn’t act right,” says Charles about the dog.

I spend an hour with the happy friends before notary business (which I am not allowed to join on the grounds that I am, all things considered, a woman off the streets) takes us on a short drive in a white Fiat. WBAI Free Speech Radio 99.5fm (another recommendation) is on and Charles is recommending books. He talks about Buddhism (a third recommendation!) and the profound effect the book Siddartha had, inspiring him to join a meditation group at 18 years old, which he still attends. This is the Cafh meditation group. “Cafh,” Charles explains, “means the soul’s relationship with the divine.”

Charles was studying math and science at LaGuardia Community College in Queens at the time, and started making weekly trips to Park Slope to attend Cafh meetings.

“It was a very interesting group because everyone in the group was white, first of all, and everyone in the group was a professional. They were all doctors, engineers. Everybody’s all papered up! And I’m… an 18-year-old black kid. I’m thinking, ‘I don’t understand everything that you all are saying, but I certainly like everything you all are saying.’”

Charles continues practicing Cafh, and has new plans to revisit Computer Science—to see what these programmers are up to. Even more consistent than those is his love for Social Psychology, for things like propaganda and “how people use language to persuade and influence.” Good thing he gets to use it daily, with his work down at Pino’s and in Greater New York City.

“After this coming Saturday,” Charles says pulling up to my dropoff,  “I don’t have any notary business planned for the rest of my life. I could walk away for six months and come back and that phone would still be ringing.”

Then he pulls up to the corner, “This is where you wanna be!”

We say goodbye and Charles Segure, Mobile Notary Public, is off to notarize.