Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Secret Question Sadists

To be, or not to be: that is the question: - from Hamlet, William Shakespeare,

You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions. - Naguib Mahfouz

Today I mistyped a password into one of the more paranoid financial web sites that I'm a member of. I did it three times in a row and got barred! I then had to answer three of my "secret questions". I broke into a cold sweat.

Secret questions - security questions you answer when setting up web accounts, for later verification that you are really who you say you are - must have been made up by people raised in a 1950s "Father Knows Best" environment. Either that or they were brought up by Betty Draper wannabes. Such settled lives these secret question people must have led.

My mother acting the part of a secretary
"What is your mother's occupation?"

Are they serious? My mother has "gone to god" as she used to euphemistically call the state of being deceased. And before that? Well it depends. She had many jobs, so I typed in her last job - "Legal Executive". WRONG!!! Had I perhaps used the American equivalent when I typed in the answer three years ago? After all America is where I now live. I say zed with a zee, do I not? I tried again, "Paralegal". Wrong!!!

Luckily the kindly secret question module gave me another chance.

"What was the name of the street you lived in as a child?"

That is a secret question I particularly hate. Hawthorn Street. I don't remember living there but I have the distinct impression that my mother once told me that I lived there when I was four. I can't remember the five different streets I lived in before that. Straight after what might have been Hawthorn Street was possibly Brighton Street, though it COULD have been Kooyong Road, and after that I THINK I lived in Alma Road. Would that be what I could have typed in when I set up my account at XXX? Or was it Lambert Street in Bathurst. Or Enfield Street in Perth? Or Victoria Street, Elsternwick? The mind boggles. Maybe I could phone my brother and see what he would have answered.

"What was your first teacher's name?" Well that one I know. How to pronounce it, that is. As to how to spell it, well you've got me there! I was only four at the time. How unreasonable can you get?

Perhaps someone can recognize this street?
 One hundred years later when I initially set up my XXX Financial web access, how would I have spelled "Howie"? Who-ey??? And should I include the "Miss" in front of it, even though it wasn't part of her name. "Good morning children." "Good morning Miss Howee." Those were the days, my friend.

"Who was your favorite cartoon character?" Excuse me? We weren't allowed to have comics, and TV wasn't even invented when I was a kid. Or if it was, we didn't have one. And if we did have one, it was broken. And even if it wasn't broken we would not have been allowed to watch cartoons. ASIF!

"What was the first and last name of your child hood best friend?" Obviously written by a male. Little girls change best friends daily. In any case mine changed all the time. As soon as I made friends, we'd move. Often to another state thousands of miles away.

"What was the name of your first pet?" I THINK I had a fish called Henry but if I DID, I KNOW I had two fish and the other one was called Bouncer. Which one did I put into the XXX secret question bank? Or would I have put in my first cat? I remember distinctly it was a tabby and used to hide behind a hedge in Hawthorn Street and scratch me when I went outside to play. Or was that at Alma Road? Then again it could have been the sick bird I remember finding in a gutter and bringing home. My mother yelled at me and threw it in the trash. Would that count as a pet?

"What is the first and last name of your favorite historical figure?" Well I really like Gough Whitlam who was Prime Minister of Australia between 1972 and 1975. But as far as I know he's still alive. Is 1975 classified as history yet? Do historical figures have to be dead? I suspect this is a TRICK QUESTION.

Vacationing in Bali
"What is the name of the town where your grandmother lives/lived?" I LIKE that question as it doesn't make so many assumptions. Dead or alive ... freedom of choice already yet! But what TOWN? She didn't live in a town. She lived in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. The suburb was called East St. Kilda, but many people just say St. Kilda. And sometimes I don't put a period after the 't'. Remember, one must be exact - computers are unforgiving and "typo" is not in their vocabulary. Or could the answer be just "Melbourne"? And do they mean where she mostly lived or where she lived when she died? The nursing home was definitely not in St Kilda. Well at least I don't THINK so.

Oops, I'm a bit slow on the uptake today. WHICH grandmother? Like most people I have two. Another TRICK QUESTION no doubt.

"What was your favorite place to visit when you were a child?" Ha, that's easy. "Nowhere"! Everywhere was scary when I was a child. I used to like going to Tocumwall on the Murray River until a relative molested me there. And because of the trauma associated with that place I can no longer spell its name. So I wouldn't have put that in. Yep, most likely I should put "nowhere".

"What was your father's occupation?" - Huh. "WAS"? An assumption that he's gone to god? True in my case but really!!! What would I have put? Actor? That is true but it wasn't his only job. He started his working life as a shoemaker. We were so poor we couldn't afford heating and so he used to bring home leather scraps and burn them in the fire-place. At Hawthorn Street. Or was that at Kooyong Road. I know it wasn't at Alma Road as that's where our mum took us when she left him the third time.

Alma Road (with brother)
I hated the burning leather. It made my eyes smart. I liked it better when we lived at Lambert Street. There he used to get his mate to chop down trees (my dad wasn't any good with tools) and strip all the branches off so he'd have a very long log. He'd put one end in the fire-place and the rest of the log would stretch out over the lounge room floor.

We used it as a replacement for the chairs we didn't have (he was a gambler). I hated being the oldest kid as I'd have to sit on the bit of the log the furtherest away from the fire-place. When some of the end-bit had turned into coal we used to have to all stand up and push the log further in. Eventually there'd be nothing left for me to sit on.

"What is your favorite vacation spot?" At last we are moving into adulthood. A tad more stable. But where do I vacation that I enjoy? I usually have bummer vacations though my last one at my friend Di's was great. However I've only been to her new place once. And that was years after I set up my answers to my secret questions. So it wouldn't be that. I try "Bali". I used to love Bali and I went there before the internet was invented. So it is a distinct possibility I used that answer. WRONG!

I like visiting Australia. But can the country you are from count as one's vacation spot? I doubt it.

"What is the first and last name of the best man at your wedding?" Which wedding would they be talking about? Not that I had a best man at any of them.

Madame with Girls, Macrob 1963
"What was the first and last name of your favorite high school teacher?" My favorite high school teacher was called "Madame". She taught us French. I admired her because she'd been in the French Resistance. She was my hero. We all called her "Madame". I know she had other names. I have an inkling her last name was Lewisnki but perhaps I'm confusing her with Monica.

What are these question-makers up to? What turns them on? Personally I think they are all sadists. They make me remember bad things like being molested or having to smell burning leather or missing out on a place on a burning log.

I always feel like they are thumbing their noses at me - "Ya ya - I'm normal and you're not." I think they look like Fred MacMurry or Leave it to Beaver's dad. They are all white and believe in Jesus. Some might even be members of the Tea Party. They are the sort of people who don't acknowledge that not everyone is fortunate enough or boring enough to have been brought up in two-parent households with parents who had stable jobs, in houses with heating, in ONE street, where kids were allowed to read comic books in front of televisions and had with pets who lived long and happy lives and were called names like "Lassie".

My name is Kathleenwng and I approve this message.

1 comment:

Jaded NYer said...

Sounds like you had an interesting childhood.

Bet it was fun playing "musical chairs" with the log. tee hee.

I pick simple answers to these questions, things I know I wont forget.

So, just pick something you won't forget, like something that drives you crazy, and you will always remember it.

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