I am on the phone, being an efficient and well organised soul and letting my credit card company know that I will be going abroad, spending dollars rather than pounds, so please don't stop the card, I am not a clone, it really will be me. The lady on the other end, somewhere in India, briskly takes down my date of birth, card number and then asks me for the third digit of my 'special password known only to me and not to be shared or written down anywhere'.
What password is that then? I haven't got a password, just a pin number. Oh yes you have, says India, well I can't remember it, I say. Well you MUST says India. After some serious international to-ing and fro-ing on the phone, middleagedad comes in and shouts 'Oh I've got that number written down in the password file'. The lady in India hears this and proceeds to really tell me off about the fact that anyone other than me knows this secret-squirrel number and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES is it ever to be written down, especially in a file marked (very clearly on the front) 'Passwords'.
I sigh as I sign off, promising never to mention to anyone what my password is (fingers crossed behind my back) and wonder if these people have any idea how many passwords it takes to get from one end of the day to another. Since it is not unusual for me to wander into a room and completely forget what I've gone in there for, there really is little hope for me being able to remember a hardly used eight digit password from one end of the year to another.
Almost the next day, I get to work to discover I have a new laptop, which is lovely, but being new, it has no memory (well it does, lots of empty memory space, but no record of anything my old laptop and I have been doing for the last five years). I switch it on, It asks me for my password, I can't remember it because I ticked the 'remember me' square on my password bit five years ago and have no hope of knowing what this might have been. I guess wildly a couple of times, then it shuts me down. Luckily, the day job comes with a team of super fabulous techies who calmly set me up with a new password and off we go.
Except that the 'password please' button comes up on everything I touch for work, as everything is now password protected and I've ticked the 'remember me' box on everything. By lunchtime I'm almost ready to throw the lovely new laptop into the bin.
Later in the week, we get an official letter at the day job, saying that we must all now adhere to a strict Password Policy, recently invented, which is designed to fox would be hackers with its crafty-ness, Since it requires every password to have words, numbers and things that are neither (punctuation marks) and be changed alarmingly regularly, it's likely to fox the workers too, as obviously we must Never Write This Down.
In desperation, I add up the number of passwords I need to function at work (and I bet I've forgotton some); it is eight. Eight different passwords to just get on with my job. And then add on TWR, another three, then home emails, home computer (another couple due to wifi accounts), Amazon, eBay and everything else I buy on line (interesting that I don't find it quite so hard to remember the accounts that allow me to spend money), house alarm, …I'm at 20 and I'm only doing this roughly, after a glass of wine.
How bonkers is it to need so many, and how crazy is it for people down the end of a phone ( usually in a bank) to say patronisingly that we mustn't write them down! I mean come on, even a very sharp brained twenty year old is going to struggle with so many, let alone a middleagewoman with a long job list, a short attention span and an inability to remember where she last put her car keys.
And do the little messages that pop up to tell you that Access is Denied have to be so swift and aggressive? (and often written in red, making you feel like you are back at school being MARKED). Could they not be designed with a little more compassion? How about a friendlier vibe? It would make coping just that little bit easier.
I rant on to middleagedad, who suggests we go down the pub to ease the pain. We come back later, and realise we have no house key, but no matter, as we have a fancy external key holder that we bought so teenagesons never had to worry about getting locked out. However, it is password protected and guess what? It is so long since we used it, we have forgotton what it is.