By Hannah Reich Berman

I wish that the people I deal with would stop bothering me. It seems that every time I turn around, someone wants me to change my password. They tell me that changing my password from time to time will provide me with better security. I have been asked to make the change for my bank account, burglar alarm, cell phone, and a half-dozen other accounts.

The last time someone bothered me with this nonsense, I told them what was on my mind: “It will be secure alright, because if I change my password, even I won’t be able to get into the account.” It took me years to find the perfect password, one that I would not be likely to forget. And now that I am comfortable with it, suddenly everybody wants me to change it!

Last week, I was unable to access my e‑mail, so I called AOL and hit the button for tech support. Tech support has become my savior. After speaking with me for a few minutes, the fellow who answered the phone realized that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with me. When it comes to these things, I am never of much help. In truth, chances are that I could assist in solving whatever problem assails me at the moment, but I choose not to. It’s so much easier to let some savvy technician do it for me–and he is being paid to do it.

After a few frustrating minutes, my latest helpmate asked if I would allow him to “take over” my computer in order to solve the problem. That means I give permission for him to go into my AOL and do what needs to be done. He didn’t have to wait long for my answer. There was nothing I wanted more at that minute than for him to fix the problem. So I gladly gave my permission and then sat and watched as the cursor moved back and forth across the screen, seemingly of its own volition. It looked creepy, but my helpful new friend had control over my computer and was doing what he had to do. It was pure pleasure to sit back and relax while he cleared up the trouble. He probably expected me to thank him and hang up when everything was in order. But he was wrong.

He didn’t know that our relationship was far from over. When the support “session” ended and it was time for me to take back control of my computer, he told me that my password was now gone and that I would need to create a new one. In no uncertain terms, I let him know that I didn’t want a new password. I wanted to keep the old one, the one that I would always remember. I can’t be sure, but I thought I heard him give one of those world-weary sighs that people give when they’re fed up with me. But I didn’t much care! After a brief pause, he collected himself and then said that I could eventually take back my former password, but that for right then he had to give me a “temporary” one–one that I would need to use to get back into my AOL account. He didn’t have to tell me that it was temporary; I knew full well that it would be, since my intention was to change it back to the old one as soon as I could.

Then I lowered the boom on the poor guy who, by this time, probably could not wait to get off the phone with me. I let him know that I could not do any of this by myself. When it comes to computer business, I don’t do much by myself. I insisted that he remain on the line and “walk me through” the change. Well-trained by his superiors, and nothing but polite, he agreed to help me. I knew he was not overjoyed, but hey, that’s life! We all gotta do what we gotta do. I needed his help and I intended to get it. It was another 20 minutes before the task was completed–and all of that could have been avoided if he had just let me use my old password in the first place instead of insisting upon giving me a temporary one.

There have been other times when I needed to go through this nonsense. (Note: Anything I don’t understand, I refer to as nonsense.) Whenever one signs up for a new online account, a message appears explaining that one must create a password. But first, a temporary password is given. Oh joy! I am shown a bunch of letters and numbers on the screen and asked to copy those characters into the box that is provided. Half the time, I can’t make out what the letters and numbers are. Not only are they all wavy as well as slanted, but there are both upper- and lower-case letters involved. Do people lie awake at night and think of ways to torture me? It cannot be that I am the only one who has a hard time with these things. And if I am, then so be it, because that’s just the way it is! Ï–

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.


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