Column Classic: Password

By Lisa Scottoline

In the beginning, God created the Internet and shopping online. I was an early believer. Where shopping is involved, I get in on the ground floor, especially if I don’t have to move from my chair. Shopping online was like having somebody bring you brownies and stuff them in your mouth.

In other words, impossible to resist.

Plus the economy was better then. It turns out that “shop until you drop” wasn’t such a hot idea. Or maybe we just dropped. Or somebody dropped us. Either way, don’t get me started.

To stay on point, early on, websites like Amazon and required a four-digit password. It was my first password, and what a thrill! Think of a secret word! It put me in mind of decoder rings, speakeasies, and people knocking on doors, saying “Sam sent me.” In those days, I used the same go-to password for everything – specifically, my goal weight plus zero. It was easy to remember because nobody ever forgets their goal weight, and the chance of ever attaining it is zero.

Then everybody caught on to online shopping, so much so that the other day I went into a pet store and they had only two dog collars, both large and blue. I wanted red and small, so they told me go home and shop online at their website. So you know where this is going. The bad news is that someday the stores will be empty. The good news is that there’ll be plenty of parking.

But somewhere along the line, passwords stopped being fun. Complex rules entered the picture, like an IRS Code for passwords. Nowadays passwords have to be eight or ten digits, mix numbers and letters, use both upper and lowercase, no asterisks or other punctuation, can’t repeat digits, and never on Sunday.

Now I hate passwords.

I have 3,929,874 passwords, not only for shopping but for banking, Gmail, satellite radio, and other stuff. I try to keep track of them but I can never remember to record the password, and if I keep forgetting it, I get locked out of the website and have to reset the password. Then I reset the password to something close to the original, which means that all of my passwords are scarily similar, like some inbred mountain family, so I’ll never be able to keep them straight.

And then websites started requiring user names, because our regular names stopped being good enough and we became users and not people. I can never remember my user names, because sometimes the website requires lscottoline or lisascottoline or, and the other day I got so fed up, I made “password” my user name.

This amused me.

Then of course I couldn’t get into a website because I misremembered either my user name or my password, and they don’t tell you which one you got wrong, so you have to try different combinations to hit paydirt, which never happens before you are locked out of the site. And you can’t get an email sent to you reminding you of your password unless you remember your user name. But if you’re like me and you forgot your password, you’re also the type to forget your user name, which is when you throw your laptop out the window.

But it gets better.

Yes, I’m talking about Security Questions. These are something my bank has come up with, wherein after I finally get my user name and password correct, they ask me questions, the answers to which I established too long ago to remember, around the time I lost my car keys. And if I get all the answers right, I’m still not in the clear, because the website shows me a picture of an oak tree and asks me to remember the caption I wrote for the picture, once upon a time.


I can write a novel, but not a caption. All my captions stink. And so therefore they’re impossible to remember.

I look at the oak tree picture and try the caption, “This is an oak tree.”


Then I try, “This is not an oak tree.”

Surreal, but also incorrect.

I try “Oaky Dokey!” For fun.

Also incorrect, so I’m locked out of the bank. At which point, I leave the house to go to the store.

And park.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline

Column Classic: Got Limes?

By Lisa Scottoline

You may have seen the news story that one of the major big-box stores has applied for a liquor license, which would allow consumption-on-premises.

In other words, you could drink while you shop.


Happy days are here again!

Reportedly, the store is doing this because it’s expanding its grocery and food items, but I don’t care why.

Bottom’s up!

I already love shopping in big-box stores.


Everything is BIG!

If you need to buy laundry detergent, the smallest bottle is 187 ounces.

And that’s concentrated, so it’s the equivalent of an entire ocean of laundry detergent. 

That’s why I buy All laundry detergent.

Because it’s ALL.

In fact, you will die before you run out of laundry detergent, and you can bequeath it to your children. So after you have given your all, you can give them your All.

If you buy a can of coffee, it will be shrink-wrapped with 4700 other cans of coffee. You’ll have more caffeine than you’ll ever need and you can share some with your neighbors, so your entire block will be highly productive.

Or start a war.

I also buy multicolored gummy vitamins in a big-box store, and I now have 3,2029,348 vitamins. If I took them all, I would gain a superpower.

Or grow a third breast covered with rainbows.

Which might be the same thing.

But you get the idea, the bottom line in big-box stores is that everything is big, plentiful, excessive, and way out-of-proportion.

Ain’t it great?

The shopping carts are humongous, too, perfectly in scale with the massive stores, so that between the immensity of the warehouse space, the gargantuan shopping carts, and the over-the-top quantity of each item, when you step inside the store, you’re a Lilliputian stepped into Brobdingnag, which is the land where the giants lived in Gulliver’s Travels.

You probably knew that.

But I had to look it up.


Anyway it’s a good analogy, because that’s pretty much exactly how I feel when I’m pushing around one of those big carts, and like you, I go into the big-box store for one item and leave with several hundred.

In fact, I have been known to leave the store with two full carts, which shows you that Lilliputians love to shop.

Now that big-box stores will allow you to drink while you shop, I’m imagining myself walking those glistening, extra-wide aisles behind my cart-as-big-as-a-house, a Lilliputian sipping Lambrusco.

I don’t have that many inhibitions to start with, and for me, liquor only makes things worse.

Or better.

I buy too much in the big-box store when I’m sober, but if I shop while I’m drinking, I’ll shop until I drop.

Or until I drip.

Or both.

I might buy EVERYTHING.

Whether you think drinking-while-you-shop is a good thing depends on whether you’re the massive corporation that owns the big-box stores or my retirement fund.

Either way, I’m in.

It certainly improves people’s attitudes about running their errands on the weekends, if they can do them beer in hand.

It changes your Things To Do list into a Things to Drink list.

I’m wondering if the shopping carts will have cupholders in the shape of wineglasses or maybe tiny ones small enough to hold a shot glass.

Shot! Shot! Shot!

Shop! Shop! Shop!

But what happens when people start drinking while they’re driving those scooters in the store?

I foresee major collisions.

It brings a whole new meaning to, “Pick up in aisle four.”

Employees will come with a broom.

And a breathalyzer.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline