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Endless PINs and passwords
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It's my birthday month again, and I had to renew my car tag. This year, I had to get an actual tag, not just a decal. I didn't think anything about it until I had to find my car in a parking lot and realized that I couldn't look for the familiar "ACY" license plate. (I told you there are several cars in Covington just like mine.) I have to learn a new set of letters.

Learning one more set of letters doesn't seem like a big thing, but I find I have too much I need to remember in the way of numbers and codes.

In simpler times, I had to remember several phone numbers and those I didn't know were in the phone book. I had to remember my roll book for most of the year. I would routinely go into a panic at least three or four times in June when I couldn't put my hands on my roll book. Then I would remember I didn't need it anymore. Relief.

And I had to remember birthdays. But it was OK to keep a list of names and birthdays.

Now I have more phone numbers I need to know as cell phones are not listed in the phone book. I know you have a list of numbers saved in your phone. But that can be a dangerous crutch as I found out about a month ago.

I had been talking to my daughter on my cell phone and left it on the kitchen table and got into my car to run an errand. When I got back to my car, it would not start. (After new battery cables and a new battery - both of which I did not need, my husband fixed the problem with a new starter.)

I reached into my pocketbook to find my phone and call for help and there was no phone. The only phone numbers I know by heart are my sisters, my husband's cell and a friend. My sister does not live in this town, I knew my husband was out of cell phone coverage, and I knew my friend was out of pocket. So it would do me no good to ask a good Samaritan to borrow a phone. Who would I call?

It was Saturday afternoon. I began walking home, and as I passed Newton Federal on 278, it suddenly occurred to me that someone would be working at The Covington News. I walked there, and one of the nice young people who work there gave me a ride and jumped my car off. Crisis resolved.

Back to things you have to remember. The code for my alarm system. The code for the alarm system where I direct a duplicate bridge game. The PIN number for my debit card. My bank recently went to online banking, and that requires remembering three codes. One of which the bank arbitrarily changed because I had used the same one for six months and it was time for a change. My American Contract Bridge League number.

And I cannot tell you how many passwords for places online where you have ordered something. I try to use the same one for all, but that does not work. Some want numbers and letters; some want capital and lowercase letters; some say case does not matter.

I tried to return a pair of shoes I had ordered for my husband that did not fit (the shoes, not the husband). The instructions were straight forward. Go online to the company site, go to help and print out a return label. I thought, "I can do that."

Well, no I couldn't. I followed instructions, and the site wanted my password and email. I gave what I thought was correct. It said I had no account. I tried to open a new account, but when I did, I could not find the order for the shoes I wanted to return.

I finally had to go to the last resort plan (a plan I use often). Call the 800 number and tell whoever answers I am old and cannot manage to follow the computer's instructions and will you please help.

This time it was not my fault though. My old email was But AT&T changed my email to The site had my old email.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at