Over the last 4 years, I've noted that people don't really understand what a notary public is. If they did, I wouldn't get requests to notarize documents for the requester's wife/husband who signed the document two days ago.
Basically, my job as a notary public is to affirm that the person who signed a document is who s/he says s/he is and that I witnessed the signing the document. I also verify that copies are really copies of the original. Hence, if I'm notarizing *your* signature, you must show up in person. If I'm certifying a copy, I must see the original. Simple concept, right? Evidently not.
Oh, and another thing. I can't notarize a document from which I could/would benefit. Just another logical precaution. My mother asked if I could notarize her will. Uhhh, you declared me executor of your will so that's a big fat no! Heh.
Even with its attendant annoyances, being a notary has been an interesting experience. I've seen the paperwork for re-financing a house, I've notarized documents for a man on his deathbed, and I know that if you take a child out of the country without the other parent, you need documentation that the other parent gives permission. Just things I wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise.