It seems the more our world advances, the further behind I fall.
In the “old days” before bank cards or credit cards were the usual form of payment, I memorized my driving licence number so I could quickly give it when writing a cheque. All these years later and it is still up front in my memory bank, along with old phone numbers and other useless flotsam that is floating around in that black void I call a brain.
I remember the first time I used an ATM. That slot in the wall of the bank that saved me lining up to deposit my work cheque or to draw out some spending money. It seemed such a great invention. Just one drawback, I had to use a password that was easy for me to remember but too hard for someone else to figure out.
This took some thinking about as I was advised not to use my birthdate which seemed the best option. Too easy for a thief to figure out, apparently. Part of my phone number maybe. no, again too easy to figure out, so apparently were names of my children, my maiden name or any thing that was easy (for me) to recall, either words or sets of numbers.
It seems that most thieves must be able to read my mind, but I eventually settled on something that I could remember and was acceptable to the bank.
A few years later and the credit card became more useful as it meant collecting points towards travel, an activity we were just starting to afford. However it came with a PIN which had to be memorized or it could be stolen from the secret hiding place I had copied it down on.
I was just getting used to this new number when the system was changed from five numbers to just four. More brain puzzles for the unwary.
The advent of the internet saw the need for more passwords. Over time this grew to needing a password for on line banking, paying bills on line, even making an enquiry into an unknown charge on my phone bill. I am calling from my home, on the line in question, having been on hold for twenty minutes, listening to piped music interspaced with ads for various unwanted services.
A human voice eventually answers and asks how he/she can help. I give her the problem and am asked for my password. This is written on my Telus box, in the laundry room, so I struggle to get out of the chair and check the number. On one call, I was feeling petulant and told her I didn’t have it available, she answered in a cheery voice that it was fine and asked my birthdate instead. Why is a password needed when I a calling from home? If I am a burgler, I am unlikely to be asking why I had supposedly placed a long distance call to a village in Peru, so why does the operator need to verify my existence?
Over the years I have had to dream up many passwords, each time becoming more and more ridiculous. It must contain at least one number, must contain one upper case letter, must be longer than eight digits. And then, I am supposed to change it every six months. ARE YOU JOKING????? I have a list of passwords printed for my use, as no way can I remember my password to book tickets at Frank Venables (if that is ever going to be part of our lives ever again.) I know I shouldn’t have them written down, but no way can I remember any that I do not use on a regular basis.
Trying to argue with a computer that says you are entering the wrong password is an exercise in futility. I carefully enter the correct sequence….wrong password. No it isn’t, but no use arguing with a machine. The only thing to do is to change it to something acceptable for the moment then, when the machine has accepted it, I change it back to the original word. I must admit that in thinking up new passwords, I have put many juicy ones in. Swear words come very easy when you are really frustrated and, as they are not in my regular vocabulary, I find them very satisfying!
Our lives are so complicated with all these rules and regulations to get at our money or order something on-line or even to read our electronic mail. I can imagine that when we get to Heaven, instead of Saint Peter standing at the Pearly Gates, there will be a slot to insert a card and a password to enter. For those who have led a good life, the first word will be acceptable, for those on the naughty list, it will just say “you have entered the wrong password” over and over again.
That will surely be punishment enough to be Hell!