Monday, November 22, 2010

If at First You Don't Succeed

A little while ago, I decided I needed to get into one of my bank accounts to see how I was doing these last few days of November. I do the same thing around this time every month, just to determine if I need to sit down and select certain objects from around the house to try and sell on the street so I can make ends meet. No big deal. All old people do this.

I go online and pull up my out-of-town credit union's website. I enter my account number and the gibberish they want you to repeat so that they know ... what? That I'm me or, at least, not a robot or something? I don't know. I do what they tell me to do.

In return for this, I get another screen that asks me to answer a private question, like who was my favorite rock musician when I was 16? Huh? "Rock" musician? Not "Bach" musician? We had "rock" when I was 16? Then I remember. Of course, we did. Why, I'm a part of that legendary generation that gave the world rock and roll to begin with. But I never got that question before. My questions usually have to do with my father's middle or my mother's maiden names - something no one besides me and my brothers would know. But I follow through. I think, rock musician, huh? Um, Paul?


They insist I start over, so I start over. Then they want me to answer another question: What is my favorite place in the world to vacation?

Huh? I don't "vacation". I haven't "vacationed" in thirty years or more. At least, not since that time Bobby made me go to Key West with him, and the airline lost our luggage, and we got inundated with a plague of insects our first night there, and when we went out to dinner, our waiter had a "personal crisis" that necessitated his declaiming Medea on the dining room floor. Loudly. In Greek. So, no, I don't "vacation".

Now I knew something was wrong with my credit union. No, not my credit union. Worse. My account number. Wait. Even worse than that. My memory of my account number. Those five little integers each of us carries around with us for a lifetime. I've lost them. As the beginning stages of panic start to bubble, I try to remain calm. I put my my mind in a "quiet place" and try to relax. I breathe. I breathe, breathe. I try again.

No luck!

It takes me eleven tries before I finally get it right. Of course, these are not eleven uninterrupted tries. No, I have to periodically close my browser, shut down my computer, and then restart it. But I'm a dogged man if I am anything, and so I persevere.

It's a frightening thing, though, forgetting your bank account number. The truth is, I should have seen it coming. A few years ago, I started to find myself going blank and then, like, waking up to see a group of faces looking back at me expectantly. Those "blank" moments were kind of nice, though, like lying down on a vast bank of grass in a glen somewhere far away. They were relaxing. Soothing.

But nobody wants to not be able to get at his money. This is serious. So I persevere until I get it right.

Did I mention I'm that kind of guy?

Once I've hit on the right combination of digits that compose my account number, I jot them down, just to be sure I don't forget them again too quickly, and I create a spreadsheet document. I create a file I will store in a secret folder on my PC called "My Stuff". I give my file a secret name, too, that only I will know. And, like I said, I stick it in "My Stuff".

I'm covered. No worries. And if the day ever comes when I will have forgotten the name of that file, I will surely have the sense to look into a folder called "My Stuff". Or, at least, to glance at the printout of this post taped to the side of my computer. Yep, I'm covered.

Mama didn't raise no fool, no.
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