Just one of those months…
We’ve all had “one of those days.” But have you ever had “one of those months”?
Well, I just got done with one.
It started with a mistake in one of my columns. I wrote about how hard it was for me to learn to tell time and I said my mother taught me the big hand told the hours and the little hand the minutes. It was a Duh, and one I shouldn’t have missed, but I did. After the column was printed, my pal Jersey Bob emailed me and said no wonder I had so much trouble learning to tell time.
Then, the very next week, I made yet another goof in print.
This time I attributed the line “April is the cruelest month” to Geoffrey Chaucer. It wasn’t. It was written by T.S. Elliott. I got two emails on that. One, from Roberta Delaney, simply corrected my error. The other, from my pal Kenny Youngblood, was as snarkily-esorteric as I could expect. He said the column was written in Middle Adirondack — a takeoff on Chaucer writing in Middle English.
One the one hand it was reassuring that peeps read my column. On the other hand..
Making mistakes in print in front of 3,000 potential readers is embarrassing. But that’s all it is. Sure, it’s a direct hit to the ego, but aside from that, there’s no damage. I’ve still got my health, friends, family, and piggy bank. So while I may have lost face, I hadn’t lost anything important. That happened the next week, when I lost my credit card’s security.
Every month when I get my credit card bill, I look at it, but not terribly closely. Instead, I skim it, looking for something obviously out of place, which is something that had never happened. Or more exactly, it had never happened till this month.
There weren’t a lot of charges on the bill, and as I ran my eyes down it, everything looked fine till I saw a charge from some place called Dreck Shmattas, Inc. I didn’t recognize the name, and didn’t remember ordering anything from them, But not having a lot of faith in my memory these days, I called the credit card company to double-check.
A pleasant and efficient lad there told me that Dreck Shmattas was a clothing company.
Clothing company? Now I was really boggled, since I almost never buy new clothes, on the internet – or anywhere else, for that matter. And I never will, as long as Sign of the Fish is in business. But my memory being what it is (or more exactly, what it isn’t), I called Dreck Shmattas.
The clothing lad who answered the phone was as pleasant and efficient as the credit card lad.
“Yep,” he said, “I’ve pulled up your record and I see that charge.”
“OK,” I said. “What’s it for?”
“Mickey mouse T-shirts,” he said. “One medium, one small, and one extra-small.”
Me buying Mickey Mouse T-shirts is as likely as me buying a pair of skinny jeans.
“That’s on my credit card?” I asked.
“It is,” he said.
Then he gave me the vital details, the most important one being that while the shirts were charged to my card, they were sent to some schmuck in Houston whose name I’d never heard.
I told the fellow I certainly did not order that stuff, and he told me he was sorry but there was nothing they could do at their end since the bill had already been paid.
Thus another call to the credit card company.
Yet another p. and e. lad told me five additional charges had been made to that same Houston schmuck, but the credit card company hadn’t paid them yet. Or at least they hadn’t paid four of them – he wasn’t sure about the fifth, since the charge was pending.
Next, I canceled my old card and got a new card issued. I also vowed to check my next credit card bill to make sure there were no bogus charges on it.
All this raises the inevitable question: How did I get hacked?
Your guess is as good as mine. The card was out of my possession only once in the previous billing period, when I’d paid for dinner in Frisco, Colorado. Back home I’d made the usual purchases — pet food, vet bills, gas — and a few from online. But that was it.
But it doesn’t matter. Your info can be copied from receipts. Internet accounts can be hacked. There are even gadgets that can copy the info if it’s tucked away in your pants pocket,in our wallet, no less!
The only thing we need to know about the “how” of credit cards get hacked is this: Any security system created by people can be (and will be) hacked by other people. I was told that years ago by a pathological thief who knew exactly what he was talking about.
So the upshot of this was:
1). I’d be without a credit card for a week or so til the replacement arrived (they graciously offered to Fed Ex it overnight for a mere 25 bucks … and I graciously declined).
2). I”ll check my credit card bills much more closely from now on.
So far, but maybe not so good
After The Great Credit Card Shtuss of ’19, I hit two more speed bumps on the Cul de Sac of Life.
On Tuesday I lost my car keys. Then on Thursday I lost my glasses.
And before you start: Yes, I looked all over my car, in my furniture’s cushions, in all my clothes, and finally in the freezer compartment.
No dice, all.
While losing those things is upsetting, far worse is my fear of what caused it, namely that my prop is slipping. It’s something I don’t like talking or even thinking about. Nonetheless, I told Kookie about losing that stuff and shared my fear with her.
After having poured out my heart, her only response was to laugh.
‘What’s so funny?” I said.
“Don’t sweat it, pard,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with your memory.”
“Yeah?” I said. “And how do you know that?”
“We all lose things, we’ve always lost things, we always will lose things. It’s normal. It’s just what people do … and it’s nothing to worry about.”
“So when do I start to worry about my memory?” I said.
“When you’ve got those objects,” she said, “but you don’t know how to use them.”
“Well I guess I’m fine,” I said, “since I haven’t yet tried to start my car with my glasses.”
“Fine, I don’t know,” she said. “Instead, consider it, ‘So far, so good,.”
As soon as she said it, I went silent. And stayed silent for at least a half-minute.
“You still there?” she said.
“Yeah,” I said. “Just thinking.”
“About who else said, ‘So far, so good.'”
“Who else said it?” she asked.
“Only one person I know of,” I said.
“Who?” she said.
“The guy who jumped off the Empire State Building … as he shot past the 50th floor.”