Forgot Your Password?
By Jack McDonough
Some questions can be very annoying.
“Are you really going to wear that shirt? Are we going to have those same meatballs again tonight? Do you mind not drumming on the table like that?”
But there’s nothing more annoying, infuriating, outrageously maddening than the one you get when you’re trying to access the website of a company that sells – oh, let’s say – t-shirts. You’ve dealt with this company before and you’ve used the same password for years.
But not this time, pal. Here comes the dreaded question:
“Forgot your password?”
I don’t know what others do at this point but as a mature, educated adult I explain, at the top of my voice, “NO. I DIDN’T FORGET IT. YOU LOST IT, YOU MORONS.”
And, by the way, you’re buying a cotton t-shirt here. You’re not buying drugs or guns or nuclear secrets. Who for the love of God needs a password to buy a t-shirt?
Do I forget passwords? I do not. I have two sides of a standard sheet of copy paper covered with passwords. About fifty of them. Typed. I even have one for my dermatologist.
These companies really insult customers when they imply that it’s you and not they who “forgot” the password. Not only that, but sometimes they double down on the confusion. They say, “Forgot your ID or password?” Now you don’t know which one they’ve lost.
To create a new password you’ll often need to enter a five-digit verification code to prove you’re who you claim to be. They’ll send these numbers as a text to your cellphone.
Right away, this is a problem for me. First, I usually don’t know where my cellphone is. Second, I do not “text.” I’ll be fluent in conversational Sanskrit before I take the time to become facile in texting. The comedian Paula Poundstone once said, “Texting would be great if somebody hadn’t already invented the telephone.” She was right.
But let’s assume that you somehow find this five-digit number and you’re ready to create a new password that this company will lose in a few months. You’ll need to make one that meets certain requirements that will foil Russian spies who want to know all about your taste in clothing. And your sizes!
In the old days your password could be “password.” Remember those days? Well, forget them. Now the password must be at least 35 characters long and include capital and lowercase letters, numbers and a whole lot of things like #$%& or @.
And don’t write that password down where enemy agents could find it. These people rummage through dumpsters to find the email passwords you use to buy your underwear from Walmart.
Assuming you somehow manage to resolve the problem with the password that the company lost, one or more additional “levels” exist that may eventually cause you to lose control of all bodily functions. This challenge is known as “multi-factor authentication.”
If this is too much for you, you can always call the company’s 800 customer service number. If you do, listen carefully to the recorded message because their menu will have changed. It apparently changes weekly.
Or, here’s a better idea. Just hop in the car and drive to the mall. You won’t need a password there. Only a credit card.