If I print out my list of computer passwords, it comes to four pages, which is crazy and makes me crazy. Even though I have this list, it doesn’t save me from a pie-in-the-face by the evil angels who lurk in “The Cloud,” whatever that is, and tell me I have the wrong password.

Let’s start with Apple. Every time I get in trouble and go to an Apple store (where I always ask for someone who can work with old people) they want me to enter my Apple ID, which is not the same as my Apple password or my user name but is the same as my iCloud ID. However, it’s not the same as my iCloud password, which never works anyway. So they have me change it. It works fine, I thank them profusely, and when I go to use it later, it doesn’t work. Which makes me wish I still had a baby blanket to hold and still sucked my thumb.

Then there are the sites that give me passwords that work when I’m online with them or in their office but not when I try to use them on my own: my building, Comcast, State Farm, Teachers’ Retirement System, etc.

When I was handling my sister’s Bank One account for her before she died, I had three steps to get to her account, one of which included selecting a picture. I chose a red rattan rocking chair, kind of cute, but why? My bank, Chase, has been ever constant, never refusing my password, although they’ve added passwords for safety deposit boxes, another barrier for those of us who have a hard time remembering where we keep our safety deposit keys.

While we’re grinding our teeth over passwords, passcodes, user names and user ID’s may I offer for your consideration Adobe Player, which drops onto your screen willy-nilly to tell you about an update you need to download, which turns out to be impossible.

I guess it’s all about avoiding identity theft, but I’ve already had my identity stolen and there seems to be nothing I can do about it. His name is Mario or Mary or Mary Ann or Mary Irene Gomez or Perez and was last located in Hoffman Estates. He stole my Social Security Number in Cambridge, Mass., where I haven’t been in decades, and first used it about 15 years ago. It didn’t work because the finance company in Texas contacted me and I thought that was the end of it. Then about five years ago, he used it to try to buy a car, and a finance company contacted me again. They told me to report it to the police. The Oak Park police were not the least bit interested, nor were the police in Hoffman Estates. So I guess if he’s caught whenever he uses it and I still get my social security checks, it’s not a problem.

I think there may be a very good reason for the success of Amazon, eBay and Zappos. They’ve never questioned my password or asked me to change it. In fact, when I go to Zappos website, I select “password” and it says Hello, Mary, and the rest is a breeze. Except that I must avoid Zappos and telling myself I need a Christmas present for myself when all I need is a till-death-do-us-part password.

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Mary Kay O'Grady

Mary Kay O'Grady is a former high school English teacher and later owned her own public relations business, The O'Grady Group. She has lived in Oak Park for almost fifteen years. She is currently the chairperson...