KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
T here were only two passwords when I was a child: open sesame and abracadabra. Only two passwords, but hundreds of phone numbers, some of them seven digits long, and all easily summoned to the frontal lobe by every man, woman and child in Ireland. When mobile phone technology developed to a point where phone numbers could be stored, I worried about our memories. With the burden of flexing our memory muscles in order to store so many phone numbers lifted from us, I feared that, within a generation, we would all become like Dory from Finding Nemo (the very fact that I’ve just had to ask The Boy what the forgetful fish’s name is speaks volumes about what’s coming). But I needn’t have worried: because now, we have passwords.
I have, by my reckoning, about two dozen passwords. They’re almost all variations on just two words, one of which (forgive me, but I must make some pathetic attempt at preserving what is left of my privacy) is something inspired by my name (though not my actual name; the password police don’t allow you to do that any more; oh no), and the other the name of a city, plucked from the ether under pressure, veering on torture, from the aforementioned password police.
Of course, neither of these words is allowed stand alone. If I want to buy something on Amazon, for example, I add two digits to the end of the second password. A different two digits gets me into my email, and capitalising the first letter of the first word and adding another two digits lets me log into my GAA season ticket account. Ticketmaster, Asos, my bank, my phone, my computer, my wifi, my iTunes, my house alarm; they all involve passwords. One day soon, I believe we will need a password to scratch our arse and a quite different one to access our elbow.
The trouble with all of these passwords is that I can’t remember any of them. Or at least, I can remember them – insofar as I could list them all right here, right now – but I don’t know which one is for what. Which means that I spend a huge part of my life pointlessly tapping the same two words, sometimes with capitals,
I type in a safe word, add a couple of digits, capitalise the first letter if it’s a slow day, and promptly forget it all over again
sometimes without, and with a million different combinations of digits at the end, over and over into unfeeling websites that like to warn me that I have two more attempts before they reset my password for me. Sometimes when they do this, they send the new password to an old email address that I can’t access because I can’t remember the password. Other times, they send it to my regular email address and ask if I want to change it. Which I always do, because it is usually something like fgUUk74//3bH – and who can possibly remember that? So I change it back to one of my two words, add a couple of digits, capitalise the first letter if it’s a slow day, and promptly forget it all over again.
So as you can imagine, changing to a new phone is a nightmare for me. But needs must – especially when one of those needs is a Boy who MUST HAVE an iPhone for his birthday. As ( bad) luck would have it, my own, four year old iPhone has only just narrowly survived an altercation with a water bottle in my gym bag – a bowl of rice in the hot press really is your only man – and so it was agreed that since it is a shade on the soggy side, The Boy can have the old one for his birthday while I help myself to a spanking new one (don’t all applaud my generosity at once).
‘It’s easy,’ the (real) man from Vodafone assured me on the phone. ‘You just connect it to your computer, open your iTunes and follow the prompts.’ And perhaps, to the kind of person who doesn’t struggle to turn on the television, it really would be easy. But it took me the best part of a week, a week of weeping and wailing and a farcical eight attempts, finally, to register the sim card. ‘Enter the 19 digit number on the sim card packaging,’ said the (unreal) man from Vodafone. For convenience ( he didn’t say this, I’m being sarcastic), that number is in six point type and you only get one shot at it, before being advised that you’ve screwed up, and you should try again later. Along the way, I have had to reset almost all my passwords. This time, I have prudently opted to add four digits instead of two to my safe words. Now, what could possibly go wrong?