Pass the word on: I can’t remember
I couldn’t remember my password. I couldn’t remember which password was the right one. I also couldn’t remember the password I had used to get into the place where I had kept all my passwords.
The password I was looking for might have been the name of my best friend in seventh grade, backwards — iramalacretep, along with, for additional security purposes and to make it much more likely to curdle my brain and make me forget,?$2!.
Then again, it also might have been the ?$2! first, followed by iramalacretep.
Or maybe it was all UPPER CASE and also in italics and gluten-free? For security and dietary purposes.
Perhaps I only chose a password with exotic keyboard symbols, including those little dot things over an o in German, none of which I knew how to access anymore on the keyboard.
On the other hand, the password could have been my wife’s father’s birthday, with every other number written in the Cyrillic alphabet, or his Social Security number divided by Derek Jeter’s lifetime batting average, for security purposes only available to Derek Jeter himself.
In any case, I had chosen a password so security-conscious and remote that there were no non-stops available there and absolutely nobody could figure it out — including me.
So when I tried to log in to my bank account, because going through seven steps to log onto a screen that is smaller than my wallet and makes my eyes bleed is so much easier than just ripping open an envelope, I couldn’t do it.
I tried three times, using variations of my name and my password and my cholesterol level. When I thought I had the password right, I had the user name wrong. When I had the user name right, I had the password wrong. Frequently, I got the good cholesterol confused with the not-so-good.
Ultimately, I had to admit, publicly, that I needed help — that I had to click on the “Need help? Forgotten your password, dummy?” button.
Not to worry, the button said. Just answer these simple security questions that you filled out three years ago while you were falling asleep and thought you’d never need:
What hospital were you born in? Describe the cafeteria there. Did it have a salad bar? How many salad dressings were available, including no-fat options? Were croutons free or did they count against the weight limit?
What was the make of your first car? Have you ever forgiven the person who sold you that Pinto?
Where did you go to high school? Did you ever return the books you took out from the high school library? Are you still bothered by the fact that they now call the library a media center?
Who was your first-grade teacher? Why did she believe you’d never amount to anything?
Now that you’ve answered all those questions correctly, you can re-set your password, as long as you can remember Derek Jeter’s lifetime batting average.
Neil Offen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.