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Password Problems: Forgot Your Password? Good Luck With That

I had my to-do list: finishing a few work items, booking some appointments and paying some bills. Nothing could get in my way.

I sat down at my computer, which prompted me for the password to my account. Hastily, I typed in the password. Access denied. Hmmm. I typed the word in again, deliberately striking each letter, sure I had made a mistake the first time. Denied again. Finally, a third attempt—now with a number at the end of my usual password.

At this point, the system took pity on me.

“Forgot your password? No problem. Type the word you see in the box below.”

I squinted at the combination of upper and lower case letters staggered across the box in different fonts. Was that a word? I attempted to type it.

“Try again.”

A new “word” appeared. Was than an upper case “I” or a lower case “l”? I angrily struck each key, wondering what kind of word has all consonants. I secretly worried that this was actually some kind of IQ test and feared the results.

“Try again.”

The newest word resonated no clearer than the last mock word. I vented my frustration by swearing at the computer—always a great solution to every problem.

Later, I shared my frustration with my friend.

“Oh, yeah—I hate that. You know there is a box you can check that will take you to a different prompt.”

“Oh. So, I don’t have to decipher those (faux) words?”

“No, I mean it will give you another word to try.”

Silence. It was definitely an IQ test, and worse, my friend now knew I couldn’t read made-up words. She picked up on the silence.

“You mean you can’t read ANY of them?” Her emphasis on the word ANY made me wonder whether I should answer this honestly. Now I knew how my sister felt when she couldn’t read the big “E” on the eye chart in the second grade. I decided to throw all caution to the wind.


Why is this so difficult? I shouldn’t have to jump through all these hoops to pay my OWN electric bills. Actually, ANYONE should be able to access my account to pay my bills—no questions asked. You want to pay my cable bill, NO PROBLEM! Here you go. Gas bill? Sure, I’ll take you up on that offer.

I am all about password protection, but this is ridiculous. Can’t I just give my mother’s maiden name, my first pet’s name, the city in which I was born or any combination of these? What are the odds that the person hacking into my account could answer all of these questions?

I should get to choose the test that allows me to access MY accounts—not to mention how unfair all of this is at a time in my life where I am losing access to many nouns everyday.

I feel like my head may explode from the things I need to remember on a daily basis—work appointments, soccer schedules, baseball practices, school events, doctors’ appointments, bills to pay, etc. It’s a miracle that I actually remember to pay the bills, and an obstacle that prevents me from accomplishing this is like a dagger to my heart. It’s the, “You know you really don’t have your $%@& together at all, despite what you may think.” And just like that, I’m outed… and by a faux word!

Also, for the record, if ANYONE wants to pay my cable bill, my mom’s maiden name is Smith.

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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