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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?

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  • Reply The General

    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…

    March 10, 2016 at 12:00 PM
    • Reply TechSideOnline

      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?

      June 30, 2016 at 7:12 AM
  • Reply Tammi Kale

    Amen, Sister!

    April 20, 2016 at 2:09 PM
  • Reply mixedmedia2016

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

    April 20, 2016 at 2:28 PM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

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

      April 21, 2016 at 12:23 PM
  • Reply Tracy

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

    April 20, 2016 at 2:57 PM
  • Reply cupidonashootingspree

    Hahahahaha this so needed to be written

    April 20, 2016 at 2:57 PM
  • Reply Groove Is In The Heart | Birgit

    Lol! It sounds all to familiar!

    April 20, 2016 at 3:34 PM
  • Reply Skyscapes for the Soul

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

    April 20, 2016 at 3:52 PM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

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

      April 21, 2016 at 12:24 PM
  • Reply Lorna Pegram

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

    April 20, 2016 at 4:10 PM
  • Reply world4womencom

    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.


    April 20, 2016 at 4:40 PM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

      Thank you! How can I find your site?

      April 21, 2016 at 12:25 PM
  • Reply m23diabour

    Hahaha…very nice

    April 20, 2016 at 6:32 PM
  • Reply Angela Maree Barnett

    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.

    April 20, 2016 at 8:24 PM
    • Reply LUMAOL

      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

      April 20, 2016 at 10:42 PM
      • Reply Katie Hoffman

        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.

        April 21, 2016 at 12:28 PM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

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

      April 21, 2016 at 12:27 PM
      • Reply Muhammad Ahmed Mumtaz Niazi

        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.

        April 21, 2016 at 2:45 PM
  • Reply Parveen Sabharwal

    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

    April 20, 2016 at 9:09 PM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

      Thank you!

      April 21, 2016 at 12:26 PM
  • Reply Off-topic… | myadventures720

    […] Off-topic…A lady writes about her alternate password  […]

    April 20, 2016 at 9:35 PM
  • Reply lamontcollins

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

    April 20, 2016 at 10:21 PM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

      Hahahaha. You have a type!

      April 21, 2016 at 12:29 PM
  • Reply gracious01

    WOO………. I LIKE IT!

    April 20, 2016 at 10:28 PM
  • Reply mzlizzlizzin

    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. 🙂

    April 21, 2016 at 12:09 AM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

      🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      April 21, 2016 at 12:30 PM
  • Reply Bhurva

    Awesome! check out mine

    April 21, 2016 at 1:06 AM
  • Reply theunleashedwanderer

    awww…loved it

    April 21, 2016 at 2:00 AM
  • Reply Umer


    This was too good.

    April 21, 2016 at 2:11 AM
  • Reply Chinmay Behare

    Much needed dose of laughter!
    Cheers! 🙂

    April 21, 2016 at 2:29 AM
  • Reply karenf615

    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!

    April 21, 2016 at 8:20 AM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

      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.

      April 21, 2016 at 12:32 PM
  • Reply Kirizar

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

    April 21, 2016 at 8:22 AM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman


      April 21, 2016 at 12:33 PM
  • Reply tarurohatgi

    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!

    April 21, 2016 at 9:38 AM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

      Thank you! Good luck with your blog!

      April 21, 2016 at 12:34 PM
  • Reply Chiradeep Patra

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

    April 21, 2016 at 10:03 AM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

      Glad you enjoyed it!

      April 21, 2016 at 12:33 PM
  • Reply indianbornconfusedcanadian

    Haha love this post!

    April 21, 2016 at 10:16 AM
  • Reply ijustlookbadonpaper


    April 21, 2016 at 11:04 AM
  • Reply jessicasblog45

    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?

    April 21, 2016 at 11:51 AM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

      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.

      April 21, 2016 at 12:35 PM
  • Reply pathswewalk

    “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. 🙂


    April 21, 2016 at 11:56 AM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

      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.

      April 21, 2016 at 12:36 PM
  • Reply Andonis

    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..☺

    April 21, 2016 at 12:03 PM
    • Reply Katie Hoffman

      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.

      April 21, 2016 at 12:37 PM
  • Reply Muhammad Ahmed Mumtaz Niazi

    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.

    April 21, 2016 at 2:54 PM
  • Reply Erica

    This is hilarious!! Thank you!

    April 21, 2016 at 5:17 PM
  • Reply aqueendom


    April 21, 2016 at 5:21 PM
  • Reply Taffeta

    Really hilarious.

    April 21, 2016 at 6:27 PM
  • Reply juandering.artist

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

    April 22, 2016 at 2:38 AM
  • Reply Shaymâ

    Hahaha. This is really funny and true too.

    April 22, 2016 at 5:45 AM
  • Reply kirkhsmith

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

    April 22, 2016 at 3:37 PM
  • Reply Martine

    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.

    April 22, 2016 at 4:44 PM
  • Reply arianasusilo

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

    April 23, 2016 at 5:49 AM
  • Reply Sarga

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

    April 23, 2016 at 6:08 AM
  • Reply Sarga

    What a delightful read !

    April 23, 2016 at 6:09 AM
  • Reply The Tea Room

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

    April 23, 2016 at 12:15 PM
  • Reply sheisashipwreck

    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?

    April 23, 2016 at 2:13 PM
  • Reply indianbeatsblog

    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!

    April 23, 2016 at 11:47 PM
  • Reply NooryaK

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

    April 24, 2016 at 9:42 AM
  • Reply w1nt3l

    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!

    April 27, 2016 at 8:21 AM
  • Reply Freelance Cindy

    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.

    May 1, 2016 at 10:00 PM
  • Reply Bala

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

    May 2, 2016 at 5:11 AM
  • Reply fallowfieldsofwords

    “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.

    May 4, 2016 at 7:55 AM
  • Reply harshitshukla184

    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.

    May 19, 2016 at 2:50 PM
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