How many passwords do I have? I’m not sure. I’d rather not think about it except there is no not thinking about passwords unless you want to jump on an ice floe and drift toward the sunset.

We were talking about passwords at dinner. I asked a friend where he stored his.

“I write them on Post-it notes and put them in a manila folder,” he said.

Fair enough. Makes sense. What could go wrong?

What could go wrong, goes wrong with passwords. We chase passwords like we chase youth and we are always a step behind and a symbol short.

Mine are stored in the Notes file on my phone. It’s bulletproof. What could go wrong?

This. Your credit union could place an expiration date on your password. Passwords are like milk, they can turn on you.

“Time to create a new password,” the message says.

Why? I like the old password. It was Dad’s birthday. It was the number of kids we have. It’s been a lot of things.

Passwords are like the stories of a man’s life. He only has so many. Eventually he runs out of new, clever and interesting.

I type in a password.

“You can’t use a previous password,” is the response.

I can’t? Why not. Haven’t you guys forgotten yet? That was six passwords ago.

I type in another one.

“The password cannot have your name in it.”

What’s wrong with my name? I like my name and after spending a bunch of time in the password Twilight Zone, it’s one of the few things I can remember.

I type in another password.

This one, it accepts but with a caveat because passwords are graded.

My new password has been deemed “weak.” Weak? Is this a comment on my password or my life? The latter I can accept but the former is where you and I have a problem.

This is a moment. Do you accept the weak grade or roll up your password sleeves and get competitive? No one wants a weak password on their resume.

Watch me. I can do better. I’ll dig deep. How about I use the Chinese symbol for blood of emperor.

I type it in. This one gets a moderately strong. Strong-strong is out of the question. That’s like expecting an “exceeds expectations” on your performance review.

Your next move should be to write down the password for future use, something I do about half the time.

I don’t because there is no possible way I can forget that password because it has my dad's/my kid's/my favorite food in it. Somebody would have to be insensitive or an idiot to forget it.

I forget. It’s time to log into my account again. Not only have I forgotten the password but I’m unsure of my username and sometimes I get the two confused anyway. Is my username hbenham, HerbBenham or HERBBENHAM!!!?

I luck out, get the username correct and now I have to enter a password. I enter the first one, no dice. Change it slightly for two and three but those don’t work either.

The system, the cloud, somebody with a twisted sense of humor informs me that I am now locked out of the system and that I should “Try later.”

How much later? Thirty minutes? The end of the day? Around Halloween?

How many passwords do I have or the better question is, how many passwords have I written down? I checked in Notes and I have 28 different passwords. Some are current, some are not current and some were just plain wrong to begin with.

A couple days ago, I signed up on Instagram. Make that 29.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or (661) 395-7279.

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