I would imagine many of you reading this are old enough to remember when that statement was only attached to the game show with Allen Ludden.


Apr 29, 2010by tracey Comments

I would imagine many of you reading this are old enough to remember when that statement was only attached to the game show with Allen Ludden.

And perhaps if you were a member of a secret club and had a tree fort (remember tree forts?) someone said “What’s the secret password?” and you said “My Uncle Smells Like a Stinky Salami” and gained entry to your private world.

Both of those things, the show and I imagine the secret society, (I was never a member of one) made the password a pleasurable experience. It was either a half hour of entertainment or allowed you some laughs and pranks with your buddies.

But now the very thought of a password or I should say password forgotten often times strikes anxiety, fears of oncoming senility and deep frustration that can result in the hurling of pencils, your mouse or at the very least swear words at your computer.

I was trying to figure out last night how much of an average week I spend attempting to retrieve lost passwords to the endless Internet sites that now seem to define my existence. The answer was far too much.

Not a day goes by when I don’t forget the password to something and end up in that torturous land of password retrieval.

They say that doing crossword puzzles is a great way to keep the aging brain lively and Alzheimer’s perhaps at bay, for our generation I believe it’s going to be the daily search for forgotten passwords to our various lifelines.

In the beginning of the Internet it was easy we all had one or two accounts on something- maybe the techier of us had six and before we knew better we had one password for everything.  It was simple and easy. The passwords usually had some familial or often times pet connection and if someone got there first or you needed a few extra characters you threw on a 123. It was not very hard to remember, FIDO123, bingo you were in.  But then we started leading all parts of our lives through our computers and at last count I had ninety places I needed a password to access.

Hacking and identity theft became the new burglars and we were told to not only to change our passwords with regularity, but what ever you do don’t use the same one for everything and don’t use anything that has to do with your birth, special dates, dogs an cats or familial history.

Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough certain sites started to judge your passwords as weak, medium or strong.  So the passwords grew, they stopped having connections to things that were easily identifiable in your life; and it all got more complicated as life became an endless battle with the nobody on the other end telling you whatever you typed in was wrong.

At that point all hell broke loose and chaos took the place of order.

And while I would and do change passwords with regularity, I have a rotation of six different passwords every four months for the last four years. Do the math- I can’t as I just wasted twenty minutes trying to retrieve my You Tube password – an account I didn’t even know I had. But if I haven’t used the account in the four-month period and a password for the old rotation is still in use – I’m sunk.

I did at one point do the orderly Real Simple thing and I got a little black notebook with every password to every account written in it, and every time I typed in a new account or changed an account I wrote it down. And I carried this with me everywhere, at least to the office and back, which translates into wherever I go in between.  I was terrified If I lost it (which I did once) I wouldn’t remember anything and someone could access my entire life but I wouldn’t have the codes to change anything before they got it. So I started leaving it home and have changed so many passwords at the office the whole thing became obsolete. I also had Allison make a duplicate – if I ever piss off Allison I’m screwed she’s the only one who knows the passwords, but then we hid the backup book so well we can’t find that.

Another problem I end up with accounts in places I don’t remember signing into with user names and passwords I can’t recall and consequently because they somehow remember details I don’t, I’m not allowed entry. I have this with Ticketmaster who refuses to let me order tickets, change my password or open a new account as they swear I have one already. They know things about me I don’t and they refuse to help me figure it out.

They send those endless little boxes with the letters in them, which I type in correctly as far as I can tell.  I ‘m not great with math but I can tell the difference between a lower case w and an upper case Z.  What are those boxes there for?  Are they seeing tests?

Say you are hacking onto someone’s account, which apparently is easy except I can’t even get onto to my own much of the time; but say you’re not me and you can do this and you get as far as the little box filled with NRtY234Vc – by the time you are there you have usually had to answer the name of your fourth grade teacher, your first pet that died or in my case I use…. well I can’t tell you as it’s the one thing I do remember and nobody will ever figure it out.

So you are finally at that great place; you have traveled down the yellow brick road of password retrieval. You have your user name, you answered the questions, “Sparky” “Mrs. Henderson,” “Hot Dogs with Peanut Butter” and in the case of your bank, typed in other accounts and all sorts of federal ID numbers. You’ve done it all right. You are about to meet the great Oz aka your forgotten password and then they say you did the numbers and letters wrong; so they keep tossing new ones at you like an out of control ball machine on the tennis court – but they keep refusing your responses and you know you got the letters right. I AM NOT A MORON, I may have forgotten my third password in the spring of 09’s rotation but I can tell the difference between a T and 2.  That is when I really lose it.

It happened with Acela the other day, a place I refuse to open an actual account, as I just have no more space in my life for passwords, but they refused my phone number. They said it wasn’t mine.  Well it is, so I gave them an alternate, not mine according to them. And how do they know my cell phone number?  Do they want me to buy a ticket or not????

I have forgotten both my user name and my password to my My Space account. Now I don’t care about My Space but people are sending me messages there and I can’t get them and they might find me rude. But My Space won’t let me set up another account as they remember me but since I have total amnesia as to my identity there we can’t seem to work through it. So if you are ever thinking of contacting me through My Space- don’t.  Same with Yahoo. I got to Yahoo way late and only did it as Uday who is our Guru in India had (I imagine he still does) an ongoing site with dialogue and problems he helps solve, it’s just a kind of an ashram online. So to join up I started a Yahoo account, something I didn’t need but was my only way of connecting with this group. Well, my name was a version of my name but in the fifty thousands; Tracey546789 – not but close, of course I didn’t write that down and it was in password rotation Fall of 08 so I really am clueless. Needless to say I don’t take part in their discussions.

I don’t like being held hostage to the almighty password or my memory or some random number selection no one will explain to me.

I also don’t like being held hostage by Lucy but the whole family is as she is the only one who remembers the code to log onto the Internet at home.

She ‘s ten, her brain has room for endless passwords and she has been weaned on netspeak, so she gets it. I think it’s her first language.

At home like many households we have the family internet connection that has the longest damn number I have ever seen with letters and endless zeros and I wrote it in my book, but it had so many zeros that I got them wrong.  Now Glenn has one online account and one password and his traveling mouse – as far as I know – he has book accounts I imagine. But he makes me seem like Steve Jobs, so whenever the Internet goes out on anyone of our computers you hear LUCY’s name echo with an anxious tone as adults can really get thrown off their game when they were in the middle of something important online and it goes black and they don’t have the power to get it back. The power rests in the hands of a spunky ten year old who you pray is home when this happens.

And like most youngest members in a family she does not take this power lightly. She doesn’t have that much power and this is a lot and she knows it. Taylor on Facebook suddenly shut down, LUUUUUCCCY….many promises are made.

Glenn closing a deal……LUUUUCCCYYYYYYY… me blogging – LUUUCCY, and she does not speak softly and gracefully and come in and help. She does what we often do to her when she has a need we don’t find pressing, “In a minute I’m busy” She tends to bark it as no one is going to mess with her at that moment and she knows that, she holds all the keys, she knows the password.

Eventually she saunters in with this look of bemusement mixed with superiority, she nimbly types in the code only she knows, or remembers or likes her, as when I type it in it never works. The Internet is back up, she says nothing, which is a rarity for her, as she doesn’t have to.  She just tosses a look of how could people supposedly be so smart be so stupid.

She doesn’t want us to learn the password, as that would take away her biggest power base of the moment.

I just hope she doesn’t really start torturing us and write down a series of letters and numbers we have to duplicate in order for her to reconnect us, if she does we might have to come up with a new password.