Earlier this year, not long after the long Christmas break, I decided to place my first shopping order of the year. We had finally eaten our way through all that stodgy food and now it was time to put our waists in order and munch on something healthy (Terry’s chocolate orange may sound like a good idea…). So, I dutifully sat down and click, click, clicked away, merrily piling fruit and veg into my ‘basket’. When it came to the payment screen I input my credit card details and then sat a little bemused when it asked me to input my credit card password. I haven’t had to use that for at least two months. Hmmm. Well, okay, no big deal. I entered the second, third and fifth characters as requested.
Oh. Perhaps I input the wrong ones. I counted them off on my fingers and entered the first, second and ninth characters in.
Oh! Hold on. Is the first letter a capital? Perhaps that was the mistake. Well, let me try again, and I entered the fifth, sixth and seventh characters – no capitalisation required.
Clang! Sirens and whistles might have blown for the shock that ran across my face when I was barred from using my card for 24 hours. Shit!
I went upstairs and told my husband what had happened. His response: ‘You knew I was here, upstairs, while you were typing in the password and didn’t think to come and ask me?’
‘Well, why would I, when I knew what it was?’
‘Obviously, you didn’t!’
‘Uh, yes, I did – except, uh, the computer got it wrong…’
Well! I wasn’t winning that argument this century, or the next. Not that I was ever going to admit to being wrong (don’t get me started), because I had counted the characters out on my fingers! See – never going to admit it!
So, my husband huffs and moans and probably calls me a few unsavoury names under his breath but agrees to call the bank who tell him all I need to do is go to an ATM, insert my credit card and unlock the pin. Simple.
The next day I go to an ATM and… I can’t remember my pin number. You know, the number you type in everytime you use the card at a shop; the number that you automatically tap in without thinking; the number that you originally thought of and said to yourself, ‘I’ll never forget this.’ Yes, that one.
I tried to remember it. I even tapped it in, in three different ways. It locked me out for another twenty-four hours.
Can you believe they ended up having to send me the number in the post?
Then, a few weeks later, I received an email from Adobe informing me that one of their old backups had been stolen and they advised I change any and all account passwords that used the same password I had with them twelve months ago. What? I can’t remember what I wore yesterday let alone what my password du jour was a year ago.
So, as I couldn’t remember what that password was and which other accounts used it, I changed all my passwords for all my accounts, even the ones I didn’t need to change.
My brain is now so full of passwords and pin numbers and passcodes and memorable names and, and, and…what was I saying?
The school has cashless catering which uses biometric id (fingerprinting) and it is brilliant. I never have to remember to give the kids money for their lunches, I can see what they’ve eaten (no more muffins three times a day!), and I can stroll into the canteen without making a detour for my handbag. This is what I want for my credit card… and then I remember how easy it was for Tom Cruise to copy a fingerprint on Mission Impossible. Not that good old Tom is interested in my paltry pennies, still… Perhaps a combination of both would be best. But my brain had better get into gear.