It’s getting harder for me to tread carefully around my dear friend, That One Guy, hence the photo.
For the lulz, here is how my day went this past Tuesday:
On my way to work, I got a call from him. He said that he sure could use my help to download and install some programs that he needed for his new job, and if there was any way I could come by sometime, there’d be cash money in it for me. The magic words “cash money” were music to my ears, and I said so, reminding him that I’m still having a lot of trouble making ends meet, so I’d be happy to put my canvassing on hold and come over to help him download whatever it was. I knew all too well that it would never, ever be that simple, because it never is with That One Guy, but he and his wife are truly dear friends of mine, they’re my family, I love them, and I was glad to hear that he’d gotten a job. And he promised me cash money. So I headed over to their house.
Upon arriving I found that he wanted me to download some “software” (read: some Excel spreadsheets and PDFs) from a site that had provided a handy printout with step-by-step instructions for how to download and use the stuff, but my dear friend couldn’t tell whether he had downloaded it or not and needed me to make sure. The morning was punctuated by him calling his contact at his new employer and having an excruciating speakerphone conversation with the poor guy who clearly was having as much trouble as I was keeping the “DUH” out of his voice while addressing my friend.
And then while I was busy downloading, unzipping, and arranging his new “software” on his desktop where he wouldn’t forget where it was, this happened.
Sometimes I feel like a dentist who naively thinks I’m just seeing this patient for a routine cleaning but he shows up with three broken crowns and expects me to fix it all up in the same allotted time.
Anyway, the situation was that my friend hadn’t been getting emails on his smartphone for over a week. It was chock full of failed login messages. However, he was still logged in to Gmail on his laptop, and he swore up and down that he hadn’t changed his password, at least he didn’t think he had, so it appeared that it had just gotten munged on his phone somehow. And then it turned out that his other Gmail account, that was on the same phone, had been getting failed logins too, and he hadn’t noticed. Two accounts, suddenly inaccessible, only on the phone, somehow, for some reason.
You might be thinking (shades of Tales of the BossLady here), “What’s the big deal, just use the ‘forgot password’ feature and reset the passwords, end of problem.” And that is, in fact, what we did, but it took me AN HOUR, including trying and failing to find the legal pad he had diligently written his passwords on the last time I went through this nightmare with him. And I wish I could convey the tone he used when he said “No” after I asked him if he remembered his password. It was almost playful. Like, “Come on, C, we both know I can’t remember passwords, why are you even asking? Just do what you always do and make it right for me. Tee hee.” The tone put me right off, and while I did do what I always do, I did it with a touch of grim resentment that I don’t usually show to my friend.
First we had to do the password reset on both accounts. That part was relatively simple. We did it via text message, and he managed to read me the reset codes without too much difficulty, albeit having to search around for his glasses because he wouldn’t let go of the phone and just let me do it.
Then we had to pick two entirely new passwords, and they had to be passwords he hadn’t used before, and they had to be long enough. This took quite a while because he kept picking ones that were too short, or were the same as an old password, or were the same as his username(!!!). I had to double-check his security question on both accounts, make sure he remembered the answers, and make sure the alternate emails were accessible by him and not his wife’s email which she literally never checks and probably does not know how to.
I had to FORCE him to write the new passwords down. I had to repeat myself, several times: “Here’s a pen. Take the pen. Write them down. Write them down now. Write them down RIGHT NOW.”
Then, he assumed we were finished. “So they’ll be fixed on my phone now?” Um, no, because the whole reason we had to reset the passwords was so that we could change them on his phone where they had gotten somehow screwed up, a fact which I pointed out to him with some acidity. Since he couldn’t remember his passwords, we had to make new passwords, passwords that we know, so that we could put them in his phone.
(As a side note, whenever I’m helping somebody with their email or other password-protected stuff, I deliberately don’t remember their passwords. It’s just my personal policy. I don’t like knowing other people’s passwords, in part because it can sometimes make them distrust me, in other part because when I know them I’m responsible for them. That One Guy, of course, put his paper away right after the password-generating exercise and was chagrined when I made him dig it back out to read them to me so I could put them in his phone. “Good thing we wrote ‘em down, huh?” Yeah.)
Additionally, the whole time this was going on, he was griping that he wished he still had RoboForm so that he wouldn’t have to go through all this. (RoboForm had been a casualty of the Great Cleanup.) I didn’t bother pointing out that:
- If he would just pick easier-to-remember passwords, or at the very least keep the password list where he can find it, he wouldn’t have to go through all this;
- If he would bother to take the time to read a few help files and be a little more careful in general, he wouldn’t have to go through all this;
- In fact, I am the one who actually has to go through all this every time he screws up his stuff, not him.
I did point out, through gritted teeth, and as gently as possible, that:
- He had, in fact, reinstalled RoboForm on his laptop, but was not using it;
- You have to know what your passwords are in order to put them into RoboForm in the first place;
- Even if he had been using RoboForm, it wouldn’t have done him any good in this case because he had changed the stored password somehow. RoboForm can’t help you if you go around accidentally changing your passwords without realizing it. If you lose access to your account, RoboForm can’t get it back for you (as far as I know).
In the end, his “software” was downloaded and his emails were flowing freely on his phone again, for which he thanked me profusely. And I accepted the cash money without my usual hesitation, despite knowing that they’re still somewhat struggling themselves, because quite frankly (a) I’m struggling more, and (b) I’m foolishly hoping that maybe if it starts costing him actual money to get his computer crap fixed over and over that he’ll learn to be less careless with it. I love my friends, but I don’t love being taken for granted.