My Password is XrPP4&uKeb$04

When I was growing up, my parents owned a small business, a bakery in our Nebraska town of then-about-10,000 people. Things were very different in the 1950s and 1960s in small-town Nebraska than they probably are today. People weren’t terribly worried about locking the doors to their houses. And as for cars? I don’t remember ever locking a car door. There was probably some violent crime, but not enough to make our parents worry about us walking around the town after dark.

As I’m writing these words, I’m recalling an exception to this feel-free-to-walk-anywhere-in-the-dark mentality: When I was in high school, I walked over one night to a friend’s house. She lived about four or five blocks from our house. As usual, I took the short-cut, popping through the hedge in her backyard to make a bee-line to her back door. Except this night there was a man lurking in the bushes, startling me. He didn’t say a word, nor did I, and he didn’t do me a bit of harm, but it shook me up plenty.

Anyhoo, there was one bit of crime that I do recall. Every so often, we would get a call at the bakery from a neighboring business, warning us that there was a “quick-change artist” in town. The businesses had developed a way to warn others about these con men and/or women, that is, via a telephone chain. When we got the call, it was our duty to call the next business on the list to warn them of the bad guy in town. Mom would carefully explain to her staff (which included her three daughters) that these con artists were masterful at confusing cashiers and making off with excess change as a result. But you’d have to get up pretty early in the morning to confuse the Gloor’s Bakery crew. I don’t think we ever got slammed.

I was going down this Memory Lane yesterday, because I opened up my email and saw that there were items in my Spam Folder. Fifteen items to be precise. When I opened up to see what was happening, I saw that one of my passwords had been compromised, and all sorts of chaos was ensuing. The good news is that the password that had been compromised was one that I used many years ago, and now did not. But I spent the afternoon yesterday changing the very few websites for which I still used this password, thanking the good Lord that none of those websites were very important. Anyone who wants access to the Magnificat Catholic website can have at it. God forgive them.

Passwords, my friends, are the bane of my existence. If I make them too complicated, I will never remember them. So I keep a record, understanding the inherent risks in that action. If they are too simple, like the password that was compromised, bad guys can get access to my life.

Sigh. It seemed so simple when all you had to do was worry about a quick change artist. Now cashiers don’t even have the slightest idea how to make change at all!