A pin in the ass

By Bridget Ndlovu Jones…

Pin The other night I was at a friend’s house and I asked her for her teenage son’s cell phone number – she wanted me to pick him up from the movies. As I stood poised with my cell phone in hand, ready to punch in the number, she started rummaging in her handbag for her own cell phone…??? I couldn’t believe it. She didn’t know his number. She didn’t. She had to get her own cell phone to look it up!!! Her OWN son’s cell phone number!!!

What the hell happened? Something somewhere’s gone horribly wrong! When did our minds get emptied of important and useful numbers?? What or who took over that space that once was filled with our own home phone number, our best friend’s number, the local pizza delivery guy? Where did they go?

Believe it or not, I know what’s happened. I do. Over the years, those useful numbers have been replaced by meaningless pin numbers and passwords. It’s totally out of control. Then, to add to the confusion, you’re given rules about what pin numbers should look like – you’re told not to use obvious numbers like your birthday, not to use the same number for different access pins, to use an alphanumeric where possible and maybe throw in a capital letter! It’s exhausting…

In a moment of creative genius, or so I thought, I came up with a way to store my ever increasing list of pin numbers – I started storing them as fictitious telephone numbers on my cell phone. I made up memorable contact names that would act as a prompt. Example, Ms Piggy for my bank account pin “082 111 2883”. The last four digits of the fake number was bank card pin number. Genius! Well it was until my phone got stolen.

So that’s when it happened. That’s when I had to ‘find’ and ‘replace’ my useful numbers ie own home phone number, with pin numbers. Do you know, on an average day, I use up to 9 different pin numbers/passwords (pp). NINE! I counted.

I get up and turn off the alarm (pp 1). I turn on my cell phone (pp 2). I leave the house and reactivate the alarm (pp 1 again). I get to work and turn on my laptop (pin 3). I open up my gmail to check my mail(pp 4). I photocopy some documents at a client’s office (pp5). At lunch time I withdraw some money (pp 6). Back at the office I need to pay a couple of bills electronically (pp 7). I query the Telkom bill and have to go into my telephone account online (pp 8). I go home and pick up some food for supper using my debit card (pp 9). I get home, hands full of shopping, exhausted and accidentally trip the alarm…. Arrgghh….I deactivate alarm (pp 1 again)….phone rings…it’s ADT – the alarm company, “are you alright?” “Yes. Sorry. It was my fault”. “Ok mam. Not a problem. Can you please give me your pin?” WTF!!

Bridget Ndlovu-Jones
Black. British. Zimbabwean. 30 something. Married. Confused.….

(Read this article on useful tool you can use to remember all those computer related passwords)

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