Column: $%#@

By Stuart Adelberg

This week I created the best column I’ve ever written. It was funny. It was moving. It was thought provoking. I dug deep into the recesses of my mind and found ideas that I never knew were there, based on the deepest observations of critical aspects of the human condition. There is no doubt that this column was going to change your thinking and the way that each of you look at the world! When I sat down to write, the words just flowed in the most effortless process I’ve ever experienced. I had to work hard to limit my writing because I had so much to say, and I didn’t want to leave out even one word that would rob readers of the chance to experience my brilliance. Unfortunately, and with great regret, I must report that you will never get to read my greatest masterpiece because. . . I FORGOT MY PASSWORD!

That’s right. The only thing standing between me and a long overdue, but well-deserved Pulitzer Prize is an eight character combination of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Over the years, I have authored thousands of pages, written and delivered hundreds of speeches. I can recite poems that I memorized in second grade! I can sing the lyrics to just about every song that Carole King, Elton John, and dozens of other prolific songwriters ever composed. I can remember and probably still do all the steps to a tap dance I did in a musical production in 1985. But I cannot for the life of me conjure up the eight $%#@<&!? characters that will open my computer screen and allow me to access my own brilliance!!

I tried shoving my face in front of the computer’s camera – so much for facial recognition! Maybe I can try a fingerprint – but which finger did I use? My anger tempted me to use a specific finger – but that wasn’t particularly helpful! Someone told me that I can get my computer to send me an email with a password changing link – but how do I get to my messages if I can’t open the computer?

How hard can this be? I surely would have used a password that would be easy to remember. Hmmm. What was my phone number in 1968, you know – when phones hung on the wall? What’s my mother’s second cousin’s maiden name? Where was my great grandfather born? What was my father’s childhood address? If I used my birth city, was it all in upper-case letters? What symbol did I add at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end?

Don’t I have a password manager on my smartphone? I surely would have added this password to the list. Fortunately, the phone recognizes my face, and I don’t need to remember that! OK – I’m on the phone. Now, how do I access the password manager? Oh no!! It wants me to enter a password! Which one would I have used? How many characters was it? Upper-case, lower-case, numbers, or symbols? No problem, I have a system. I always save this important information on a spreadsheet on my desktop for just this type of emergency. I even told my family where it is in case someday I should happen to. . . well, you know.

So now to access this critical information, all I have to do is get into the computer. That shouldn’t be a problem, if I could only remember my $%#@<&!? PASSWORD!

Stuart Adelberg has a long history of leadership and active participation in the region’s nonprofit arts and human services sector. He appreciates the opportunity provided by Greenwich Sentinel to share his occasional thoughts and observations.

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