I don’t normally consider myself dumb, but I couldn’t think of a creative new password on Tuesday.
The bank teller said, “You’ll have to key in a new password to open your microwave-oven savings account.”
My mind froze with the pressure. The teller looked at me with her modern hair, holding out her portable wireless keypunch pad for me to click in my new secret code.
My mind raced. Nothing came.
A strong password is unique
A secure password includes capital and lower-case letters.
Contains Arabic numerals.
Uses symbols such as those found in conversation balloons of cursing comic-strip characters.
A healthy password is quick to remember when someone’s beeping behind you at the drive-thru.
I couldn’t think of a new password. My right index finger hung in the air above the beige buttons. The teller’s tight smile faltered. I licked my lips. She cleared her throat.
What to use? What to use? As a password for my thumbs-up, free access to online Icelandic-music training tutorials, I’d already used my nickname as a teenager: “Dumbo_The_Weasel_15!?#.”
I had used my dog’s name and his quirky habit for my online tax-attack program: “Poofy_Gnaws_His_Leg_Rash_27%.”
I had used my mom’s maiden name, my first tricycle, my elementary-school gymnastics coach’s favorite munchie, and my wife’s shoe size in meters for my email-account password: “Glutzik_FlappingKnees_Who?_2.”
“Um,” I said.
Scrambled numerical dates of birth of all my children?
A burrito divided by the year that lock washers were discovered?
My meanest piano teacher’s initials, the diameter of a rubber wading pool, plus an asterisk representing a Christmas tree star?
The teller glanced at her watch.
“Well,” I said, perspiring. “Could I do a password remotely off-site from home and not here in the bank where I am right now?”
She looked at me, expressionless. Her frozen smile had long since melted in the heat of my flush.
“Maybe not,” I stammered. Seconds thudded by as blood pounded in my ears. I looked at the letters and numbers that mocked me from the plastic device.
Finally the teller put the keypad on the counter. “Okay,” she said. “I can provide for you a generic, computer-generated, plain-waldo password from our Passwords for Dummies program. You can log on off-site and change it later when you’re thinking more clearly.”
“That would be fine,” I whispered, exhaling slowly. “Thank you. I promise I will change the computer-generated, generic password just as soon as I can figure out the name of the cereal that Mata Hairi ate in episode 3 of Lancelot Link Secret Chimp.”
“Fine,” she said. She tapped a couple keys on the computer, printed out a chit, and handed it to me.
Strong password. Robust simplicity. Memorable yet mysterious. Numbers. Symbols. Concise capitals. Logical lower cases. Everything a password could possibly need. Right there. Bravo.
I went home and changed it to “password.”