It’s No Game Show

Please enter your password. Again I’m asked for this minor piece of information before I can proceed with an online transaction.

The trouble is, I do not remember my password. It seems like such a simple thing – a little word with some numbers thrown in, right? But it escapes me once again. My husband tells me to write them down – all of them.

If I counted the number of passwords I needed to go about a normal workday, you might not believe me. Or maybe you are super organized and have this stuff down pat.

I recall when “Password” was just a popular TV game show.

For me it starts at the home computer. I usually have to “switch users,” as my husband uses this home device more than I do. Then a password to enter and so on. If I want to check my balance on a credit card account, another password, of course, different than the first two I just entered, is required.

Then on to the office. I slide into my chair and face the screen. You guessed it, still another password is necessary to start my computer.

To sign up for various accounts or to comment on another website – you guessed it, I need to enter a password! Sometimes I am given about 10 seconds to come up with a suitable word/number combination. You would think that would be easy for someone who makes a living with words, but guess again.

Experts tell you never to use the same password for everything. And don’t be obvious such as using your phone number or address.

Adding your high school graduation year is too common as well. Apparently those nameless, faceless computer hackers love those little clues about our lives and make bad use of such information.

Didn’t that just happen to some government-sensitive materials?

Anything geared at making our lives better comes with a password. Cell phones require it and the various things your do on your mobile phones also insist on security password codes. Facebook, with a billion users or so, demands passwords.

Remember when the only two important pieces of necessary information you needed were your telephone and Social Security numbers? If you ordered something through the Sears catalogue, the store simply needed your name and address.

Just the other day I was asked for my Social Security number in order to verify a charge account. I heard the young clerk tapping her nails on the cash register as she waited for me to enter those nine numbers I have known and used since I was 13. I went blank. A wave of numbers and letters danced in my brain. Sweat trickled down my spine. I felt the eyes of others on me as I hesitated.

I did the first thing that came to mind – I paid cash. No password needed for that, yet.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at