My Life is Password Protected

“Identity Crisis” in Main Line Today (July, 2011).

I tried to tackle my to-do list today, but things haven’t worked out as planned.

1. Pay mortgage.

I went to pay my mortgage but couldn’t remember my password. After asking for help, I was told I first needed to answer the following:

“What is your favorite food?”

My first thought was pizza. Then again, I really like tacos. I took a guess:

“Cheeseburger, medium-well.”

Apparently not. Seems the computer knows my taste buds better than I do, and I’ll probably end up in foreclosure.

2. Buy a gift for Aunt Foo-Foo’s 90th birthday.

I searched high and low, hour after hour, looking for the perfect gift for my aunt. When I finally found it—a water-balloon slingshot—I passed along my credit card number and my address.

Seems that wasn’t good enough, though. I was told I must first establish an account. In order to do that, I had to disclose the color of my best friend’s sister’s eyes. Failure to do so, I was warned, would prevent me from easily purchasing water-balloon slingshots in the future.

I grappled over which best friend they were referring to, as there were several over the years. Finally, I had a hunch they were referring to Chris. He had five sisters, though, so I couldn’t be sure whose eye color they wanted. Too stressed to continue, I gave up. So much for water games at the nursing home.

3. Renew library books.

I wasn’t quite finished reading my loaned copy of Pride and Prejudice, so I went to renew it. They needed my library card number, which seemed reasonable enough. Then I needed to create a password that adhered to the following guidelines: 43 characters, including two numbers, one capital letter, an ampersand and an obscenity.

I spent an hour thinking up something I could remember. I was told to enter it again, at which point I forgot my password. Pride and Prejudice wasn’t all that interesting anyway, so I gave up on renewing it.

4. Order photos.

After spending a few hours whittling 537 photos down to 24, then removing the red-eye from each, I was ready to order some 4-by-6 prints for the first time in five years.

Before I could continue, I needed a user name. I tried the usual variations, but they were all taken.

I spent a good hour in deep reflection, trying to come up with something that captured my inner nature, my passions, my purpose in life.

Alas, it was already taken. I began to question who I really was.

5. Make an eye doctor appointment.

I was in dire need of new glasses. On a giant computer screen across the examining room was one of those reCAPTCHA windows you’re often confronted with when entering a password. Apparently, my doctor wanted to make sure I was still human.

“Read the first line,” he directed.

I fumbled to decipher the jumbled, wavy, crooked text, failing miserably. I explained that I was being held hostage by technology, all to protect whatever identity I had left.

“My life is password protected,” I pleaded.

He would hear none of it.

“No,” he replied. “You’re going blind.”


  1. I grew up on the Main Line now a Jersey transplant. When dealing with snobs over here for the last 25 years I say main liners think NJ is still a colony!
    I really do have an aunt Boo-Boo who will be 90 in August. She parties on a regular basis with my 60 plus year old cousins. A huge celebration planned at he beach in Del. for this occasion!

  2. Mike,thanks for the laughs. Related: So I decided to order a Golden Retriever “dust collector” as many turn out to be. Following all the company’s directives, I entered all pertinent info – name, address, phone number, quantity, color, size, delivery speed, the works. Then, I was asked to select a charge card and insert it’s number. Well, after all that, it became clear that I would delete all of the above………….. since they did not recognize “my” plastic. Why have they not learned that it would be advantageous to marketing techniques to mention up front the acceptable methods for purchase? I’m sure a third grader could manage the process.

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