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An Open Letter To My Alternate Password

An Open Letter To My Alternate Password


Hey, you.

It’s been too long. When was the last time we got together? Was it two months ago when I signed up for that 30-day free trial software that required my password contain two seldom-used punctuation marks, a capital vowel, and a prime number? Good times. It feels like just yesterday. Do you remember when it took me three tries to retype you correctly in the confirmation box? I thought I’d never to be able to finish creating my account. That’s what I love about you—you always keep me guessing.

I know I promised that we were going to spend more time together, but it’s complicated. I think you know I’m still seeing my main password, but you have to believe me when I say that password means nothing to me, now. The only thing keeping us together is a sordid history of increasingly embarrassing AOL Instant Messenger accounts. Try to understand the position that puts me in; that password knows that my Internet moniker was once “RockSteady713” and, more troublingly, “le defibrillator.” Do you know what irreparable damage could be done to my reputation if that information leaked?

Look, I want you to know that when I update that password at work, I just change a number. That’s it. That’s how little I care about that password. But you. You’re the special one, with your nonsensical combination of symbols, numbers, and upper- and lowercase letters. Do you know how many times I’ve clicked, “Forgot my password,” and entered my mother’s middle name and the city I was born for you? I wouldn’t do that for any old password.

You know I want you to be a bigger part of my life, but that’s easier said than done. I’ve been with my main password for years now, since before passwords had strength requirements. I tell you this in the utmost confidence, but my main password is pretty insecure, especially compared to you. I won’t deny that you’re endowed with a more impressive length. I’m not the only one who thinks your character number is impressive–several websites have voiced their approval. Six characters used to be enough, but not anymore. How do you think it makes my usual password feel that it would take hackers decades to crack you while my long-term password could be compromised after three attempts at combining my birth date and dog’s name? You should be flattered. You’re the real catch here.

Every time we meet again you accuse me of using you — that I only want to be together when my main password doesn’t satisfy the requirements, but that’s just not true. It means a lot that you always come through for me when adding a capital letter and an exclamation point to my usual password isn’t enough. But don’t you see that what we have wouldn’t be as special if I used you for my email, my Netflix account, and my MyPanera Rewards? Our spontaneous meetings would be less serendipitous, growing duller and duller until I finally store you in my browser like a box of baking soda in the back of the refrigerator. I don’t want that to be us. What we have is too good to be sabotaged by routine.

For you, I did something I’ve never done before. You may not believe this, but I have you written in notebook that I keep in my desk. You’re right there next to my paperclips and post-its in a place of prominence my main password has never occupied. From time to time I open that little notebook and look fondly upon you when I have one last try before I’m locked out of an account. It’s in these precious moments that you mean the most to me.

That brings me to why we’re here today: I need you. I need you more than I’ve ever needed you before. I’m creating an account somewhere to receive free shipping once, and the password requirements are too demanding for my main password. You’re my only hope, alternate password. I know you don’t think you can trust me, but I’m going to change. What if I put you on my online banking login? That would be a big step for us! I know it’s about time I keep my promises make more time for you, but what do you say? Can we make this work again, at least this once until I can opt-out and never use this account again?


  1. The General March 10, 2016

    In MY day your Yahoo password was only FIVE letters…AND you had to plug a corded phone into your computer to get on the intrawebs and hack into Norad along with Matthew Broadrick. We also lived in a shoebox in the middle of the road, where we would stay up late playing Pong and watching the M.A.S.H. on channel 32. THEN we’d wake up in the morning, at 10 o’clock at night, a half an hour before we went to bed, CLEAN the shoebox, walk 120 miles uphill in the snow and pay our boss for permission to come to work. ALL that, but we could AT LEAST say…that Donald Trump wasn’t running for President. THOSE were the good ole days…

    1. TechSideOnline June 30, 2016

      This is brilliant. I’m sure the second password gets lonley and when you need it you forget it about it..passwords have feelings too! lol how would you feel?

  2. mixedmedia2016 April 20, 2016

    LOVE THIS haha. Would you mind if I used some or all of this as an audition monologue sometime?

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      I mean, as long as you don’t claim it as your own?

  3. Tracy April 20, 2016

    Lol. Damn upper and lowercase with symbols but no spaces commas or semicolons.

  4. Skyscapes for the Soul April 20, 2016

    You’ve brightened my day. I thought I was the only one who had such a relationship! Or three.

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      Definitely not alone! I’ve got a couple. 😉

  5. Lorna Pegram April 20, 2016

    This had me cackling!! Thank you! I absolutely have this relationship with my second password!!

  6. world4womencom April 20, 2016

    Loved your post. I have just started blogging and have been reading different posts to get an idea how people write and to evolve myself. But your post came as a cool breeze as this is the first humorous post I came across. Simply awesome. If you find time sometime please do visit my blog and if possible do leave your opinion.
    Such opinions would help me improve.


    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      Thank you! How can I find your site?

  7. Angela Maree Barnett April 20, 2016

    Brilliant. If we could donate to a charity every time we click ‘forgot my darn username or password’ there’d be no need for aid in the world.

    1. LUMAOL April 20, 2016

      I usually use the same password in all my accounts, but when certain webpages don´t accept my password it is just hell for me

      1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

        Oh my gosh when you have to try to figure out a password that’s stored on a difference device. Major first world problem, but aggravating nevertheless.

    2. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      That’s a great idea! Like Amazon Smile, but for forgotten passwords.

      1. Muhammad Ahmed Mumtaz Niazi April 21, 2016

        A well deserved idea that has strengthened our bond with our password. Our password reflects our personality. Our password realizes it’s presence. It lives with us like soulmate. We can’t take breath without it and we can forget people but we cannot demoralise it. I hope you’ll usher new ideas in our lives with great skill of creativity.

  8. Parveen Sabharwal April 20, 2016

    That’s a beautiful post with absolutely a novel idea and taking the real problem in a very lighter way. We confront changing of password or creating an alternate one daily and its not that easy to remember

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      Thank you!

  9. lamontcollins April 20, 2016

    Brilliant. I must don’t love my alternate because I find ways to make it as similar as possible to my main squeeze.

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      Hahahaha. You have a type!

  10. gracious01 April 20, 2016

    WOO………. I LIKE IT!

  11. mzlizzlizzin April 21, 2016

    This is PERFECTION!! At first I thought I was reading a story then I realised what was happening and I couldn’t stop grinning like a damn Cheshire cat. I too have that special password. So many special moments; thanks for rekindling our love. 🙂

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Bhurva April 21, 2016

    Awesome! check out mine

  13. Umer April 21, 2016


    This was too good.

  14. Chinmay Behare April 21, 2016

    Much needed dose of laughter!
    Cheers! 🙂

  15. karenf615 April 21, 2016

    Great post, something I have thought about for a long time.

    I have so many different passwords for so many different sites and apps. I wish all of them could use the same convention for creating passwords, but nooooooooo. One has to be all lower case, one has to have a cap and number. One has to have one cap, one lower case, special character, and number, in THAT order. Oh, yea and they have to be EXACTLY 8 characters!! I have a sheet of legal paper, both sides, with logins, passwords and web addresses for the sites I use at work. For my personal passwords, etc, is use an app called Keeper. Love it. I have it on my computer, phone and Kindle. Never get lost again. Unless I’m at work and my piece of paper gets wet or destroyed. Hmmm, that might mean a day off!

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      Hahaha, I’ve thought about setting myself up with an App like that. On my laptop and phone most of my passwords auto-populate, but when I’m the work computer? It’s like a brave new world logging into websites.

  16. Kirizar April 21, 2016

    I think this makes you a two-timing password hussy. For shame. For shame.

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016


  17. tarurohatgi April 21, 2016

    Wow! Just loved the way you mentioned a complicated thing we all face. Being a new blogger, you have taught me a new style of writing. Keep up the humor intact!

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      Thank you! Good luck with your blog!

  18. Chiradeep Patra April 21, 2016

    Thanks for bringing smile on my face when I was feeling bit tired & down.

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  19. jessicasblog45 April 21, 2016

    Love this post. I used to keep all my passwords in my head, but now I have to write them down. Why does every website needs to have password attached to it?

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      I remember back when I had AOL my password was literally “cheese.” I don’t know how or why that came to be – or how hackers didn’t hack all my 12-year-old stuff – but cheese it was.

  20. pathswewalk April 21, 2016

    “Do you know how many times I’ve clicked, “Forgot my password,” and entered my mother’s middle name and the city I was born for you?”

    This is amazing and hilarious! I always fail at remembering those jumbled passwords. The worst is when I saved all those random computer-generated passwords in Apple’s keychain, and then my computer crashed… I lost all of the passwords and had to contact each individual website to get a new password. Some are lost forever. 🙂


    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      Oh my gosh using the Apple-generated passwords is something I always immediately regret, because I’ll go to sign on somewhere that isn’t my personal Apple device and it’s like, I’m not going to remember 52utg8w-2f0ea5-lp1;;;i1-4965u3qja.

  21. Andonis April 21, 2016

    Great piece..loved reading it. Reminded me of myself so many times. Until my main e mail account got hacked and lost almost everything there. My relationship with long, impossible to remember passwords became more than full time then..☺

    1. Katie Hoffman April 21, 2016

      I’ve got a good thing going with one right now. It’s still early, but I have hope this one’s gonna work out.

  22. Muhammad Ahmed Mumtaz Niazi April 21, 2016

    An idea that has strengthened our bond with our password. Our password realizes it’s presence in our lives. The way you’ve nourished your efforts in this post is highly commendale. I have experienced it’s impotrance. Our password reflects our personality and our personality reflects our password. Both are integrated like soulmates. I hope you will pen down futher on this topic in near future with new collection of ideas.

  23. Erica April 21, 2016

    This is hilarious!! Thank you!

  24. Taffeta April 21, 2016

    Really hilarious.

  25. juandering.artist April 22, 2016

    Ridiculous! Yet brilliantly written! hahaha I can definitely relate!

  26. Shaymâ April 22, 2016

    Hahaha. This is really funny and true too.

  27. kirkhsmith April 22, 2016

    My little black book of passwords just keeps getting bigger and bigger….

  28. Martine April 22, 2016

    Hahaha this is just great. It’s especially funny, cause I actually wrote a post today that was kinda about passwords. They made an appearance at least.

  29. arianasusilo April 23, 2016

    And we’re waiting to that day they required a smiley to the password

  30. Sarga April 23, 2016

    I had trouble with remembering passwords too .So now I use the same password for all my accounts. 😀

  31. Sarga April 23, 2016

    What a delightful read !

  32. The Tea Room April 23, 2016

    I love this! It’s so original and captivating, how do you come up with this stuff?! You’re truly genius :))

  33. sheisashipwreck April 23, 2016

    Hahaha. Yes. The struggle. Like, what is life when I have to change my yahoo password every year just to play fantasy football but my Bank of America password has been the same basic 8 characters since 2006?

  34. indianbeatsblog April 23, 2016

    This is an amazing piece! I forget my passwords so often, that the ‘Forgot my Password’ click is now practically a default setting on my email accounts!

  35. NooryaK April 24, 2016

    Hilarious 😀 I love it 😀
    I have a notebook too 😀

  36. w1nt3l April 27, 2016

    Found this post on Discover and I chuckled reading through it. Really appreciate the humorous sarcasm that speaks to me directly. I’m an IT guy, since forever. Passwords are a necessary evil like taxes are servitude to living in a civilized society. Password managers, the address book (turned into a password book), sticky note under the keyboard; they’re all lacking. We need a better way of authentication!

  37. Freelance Cindy May 1, 2016

    Hilarious, I can relate….I actually have an ipad to help me keep up with these password. I hold so many account information for my personal and business. I can’t keep track. Your post was awesome, thanks for sharing.

  38. Bala May 2, 2016

    That’s so relatable…. Funny, the way you put it!

  39. fallowfieldsofwords May 4, 2016

    “I won’t deny that you’re endowed with a more impressive length.”

    Haha! A metaphorical rice just shot out of my nose. Very creative. I applaud you.

  40. harshitshukla184 May 19, 2016

    Sarcastically penned down the bane of online technology. One has to remember login id and password of the account to excess it. Now we have id and password for cable recharge, electricity bills , ordering anything online , transactions , mails , for watching a video , downloading a song , even opening a folder and a desktop. So much to remember. And what is even outraging is the typical format in which it has to be designed using every possible variety of characters available.
    Its not just you and me , rather everyone undergoing the process of recovery of passwords.

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