I’ve been thinking about numbers



More specifically, I’ve been thinking about the overwhelming number of numbers in my life.  Before I started kindergarten, my mom drilled me in all the important numbers I would need to know: phone number and street address. When I had mastered those, she added the emergency number for my grandmas house if something happened and Mom couldn’t be reached at home. I already knew the plate number for our car: CVE-952. I was overwhelmed.  The world was filled with so many numbers to remember!

I had no clue what was to come!

Maybe it’s only me, but lately I am feeling overwhelmed by numbers again. I stopped to buy something at a store and realized I had forgotten my frequent buyers card.  “Not to worry,” said the clerk.  “We can look it up.  What’s your phone number?”

I stood there staring blankly at her for a moment.

“Which one?”

“Just start with one.”

So I do, I just start rattling off a number, but it’s not the right one. Then we try another and it too, is not right. I try to remember how long I have had this account. Then, I try the number of my former cell phone–not right–and then struggle to remember my former house phone–mining one numeral at a time from some deep, long forgotten fold in my cerebrum, a phone number from five years ago–a phone we used only briefly before we got so fed up with static on the line and endless robo-calls that we disconnected it . . . Bingo!

One of my kids had a school form that needed to be filled out to be excused from class for a doctors appointment. I stood at the school secretary’s desk filling it out.  It asked for mother’s and father’s cell phone numbers. I can’t ever remember my husband’s actual phone number. It is #2 on my speed dial. How can I be expected to remember the actual number when I never actually call it? He used to be number 1 but then we got a new cell phone service and #1 is always voicemail on this service. He has not been happy about being demoted to #2 in my life, but what can I do?  Sometimes the numbers are predetermined! When I’m in a hurry and need to ask him a question or tell him I’m stuck in traffic and he needs to pick up a kid on the way home, I still punch #1 and get voicemail.  For him it’s worse. He doesn’t even need to dial any more. He just says, “Siri, call Peg.” No number is involved.  Well it is a number, but he need not ever be conscious of it.  For the most part, these unconscious numbers are not as much a problem until someone, like a teacher, asks for it.  They probably think I’m stupid because I don’t know my husband’s cell phone number. “And they expect us to teach their young? It’s hopeless with parents this brain-dead!”  They never say this–out loud–but I can hear it.

I drive up to the bank and insert my card and then have to remember the pin number which is not the same number I have to remember when I log in online.  And then there’s the other bank account for business expenses which of course, has a different pin number.  And the credit union at work is yet another number.  And the mortgage bank has a different pin and the credit cards for gas and each different store where I shop and the log-in on my computer at work and at home, and the log-in to the company shared drive and my documents file and the gate to the storage unit where we store documents from a long ago business all have different pin numbers. I have kids and they have schools and lunch accounts and student ID”s and activity codes . . .

I buy things online and for each site that I buy from, there is a different log in e-mail and pass code. The trick is to remember not only which e-mail address I used but which passcode goes with that e-mail on that site.

I have a facebook account and twitter account–times three–one for personal stuff and one for my job and one for my author stuff.  Each has  different e-mail address and password associated with it.

I sell books online so there are another set of pass-codes and e-mail addresses for that.   Sometimes, for the same site I have to log in differently depending on whether I am buying or selling and whether I am buying for work or for personal use. And if I want to edit my webpage, there’s a code for that, but a different code for the work webpage. Security guru’s all caution against writing these passcodes down so I try to be clever and make up codes I will remember, but no, this one requires numbers, capital letters and lower case letters. That one allows no punctuation marks or spaces, another requires a “special mark.” And never use the obvious: 123password!

Sometimes, OK, way too often, I can’t remember a password so I have to reset it, sending a link to the e-mail address associated with the account and not finding it, I realize that it must have been a different e-mail address than I had thought. So I have to check all my e-mail accounts including ones I haven’t used since, well probably since the fall of Rome and follow the link back to the site.  And then five minutes later I can’t remember what I reset it to, because of course, to be safe, I chose random numbers, didn’t write them down and now can’t remember them. At least now I remember which e-mail account is associated with this web site! I think.

Sometimes, I need to access something fast.  My boss is hovering over my desk looking for some obscure piece of information. This is his password I need to remember.  He set it up, but he doesn’t remember it.  At these times, all the passwords in my brain seem to swirl in an incomprehensible stew. This one, no that one?  These letters, those numbers–or the other way around? How can I not remember a simple password?  At least, I console, myself, he doesn’t remember either!

I don’t like looking stupid.  I tried one of those smart web apps that remembers your pass codes but it didn’t allow for folks like me who have separate personal, work, sellers and authors accounts at say Amazon.com and each have different log-in e-mails and passwords. I think I drove the app crazy–or maybe it drove me crazy.  I can’t remember. At any rate, we’re no longer on speaking terms.

I feel like my life has been taken over by pass-codes!  Seriously. I spend a good chunk of time every day remembering, resetting and monitoring pass-codes–increasingly as my life seems to involve more and more web applications, this seems to involve way too much time!  I could be far more productive if I could just remember the passcode for that!  Wait!  Does productivity have a passcode? I can’t remember.

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