If you are reading this without first having to remember a password, congratulations - and may the printed word never die.
To even type this, I had to put in a password that changes, oh, every three months or so, then remember the various steps involved in accessing the right icons on my computer screen, not to mention clicking on the correct file folder, year, month, column slug, type size, etc., etc. Ad infinitum.
Oh, for the simplicity of the typewriter. But then I remember the days of ink stamped, letter by letter, on a clean, white sheet of paper - typos, bad grammar and all.
No, I do not yearn ever again for a little one-on-one with a bottle of Wite-Out to coat over my mistakes. Then again, a typewriter never once asked me for a password "between eight and 12 characters long, including at least one numeral."
Complicated? No, not at all. The trick is in the remembering. Especially since I seem to have acquired, over the years, online passwords for four grocery chains, three newsmagazines, several newspapers, four department stores, two HOAs and one airline.
Note: These are not passwords designed to thwart Nigerian princes hellbent on hacking into our financial accounts. That requires a separate set of hieroglyphics. Nope, what I'm talking about are the rather mundane accounts that allow me to access, say, a sale on rutabagas down at the corner grocery store, or give me instant updates on the latest carnage occurring in the Middle East.
As with most annoyances, this one started out deceptively simple. One password would suffice. But then somewhere along the way I forgot the dang thing. Was it "Zonagirl24" or "Zoniegirl42?" Nothing to do after countless tries but to click on "Forgot your password?" Then came crafting a new one - one I'd, sooner or later, also forget, either in my head or on some scrap of paper long stashed and forgotten.
Rinse and repeat. Before long, I found myself suffering from what is known in the industry as PPS, also known as password proliferation syndrome. Symptoms include mental fatigue, lightheadedness and a propensity to swear at robot voices pretending to be humans on the other end of the telephone line. At least I think they were robots.
Bear in mind, much of this was thrust on me without much choice in the matter. Years ago, I got used to those grocery loyalty cards. But I still clipped out the paper coupons by hand. And then the stores started coming up with schemes to "upload" your card with online coupons - redeemable only at checkout.
At first I resisted - until even the carryout clerks made me feel like a troglodyte: "Ma'am, you could have saved $1 on that jar of mayonnaise if only you'd uploaded your card."
And so I gave in. Sign me up. Naturally it involved a password. My reward nowadays is reams of digital coupons streaming my way. If only I had time to peruse them all - and remember my password.
You see, even though these folks solicited me - and even though they are the ones sending me this onslaught of "bargains" - they still demand a password each and every time before I can even deign to fantasize about saving 50 cents off that can of bread crumbs. I tell ya, folks, Homeland Security has nothing on Safeway. Or Fry's.
Then there's Newsweek, which recently went all-digital. Yes, of course the magazine let me know months in advance. Yes, of course I signed up for the "easy transition," complete with email, subscriber number and all-important password.
No, of course the password never worked. Ever. I tried emailing "Help." Mailbox full. Apparently I wasn't the only one having trouble.
I tried phoning. All lines busy until April. I tried ranting to customer service email. All to no avail. Ah, well. My now-extinct print subscription that entitles me to the all-digital version expires soon. I won't be renewing.
Now if only I could wean myself off of those "bargain" bread crumbs.
Bonnie Henry's column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org