Today I had to prove that I actually am who I say I am. And I had to do it twice. First, online. Then in person.
It started when I called my cell-phone provider about a phone upgrade offer; it ended when I visited one of their stores to complete the transaction.
Here’s what happened.
I told the “helpful” online sales rep that I was qualified for an upgrade and had some questions. I gave him my name and my phone number so he could verify my status, but it wasn’t enough. I was going to have to do this in person…
At the store, the sales rep needed to confirm that I was who I claimed I was. He asked for the pin number for my account. You know, one of those numbers you’re never supposed to write down. But one you’re expected to remember.
Of course, it would be easy if you could just use a number you already know, but they warn you against doing that. No 1234, no street address, no part of your phone number, or any of your other numbers. It should be a random number. A number that is difficult to remember. It worked—I couldn’t remember it.
We moved on to the security question.
“Your first dog’s name,” he asked.
“Spot,” I replied.
“Spot,” he said.
“Spot,” I repeated.
“Oh-kay…” he said.
I watched him as an afterthought formed, no doubt spawned by a recent customer service seminar he’d attended. At least, that’s what I surmised.
“What kind of dog is it?“ he asked.
I wasn’t sure how to reply. We’ve had many dogs over the years: Benji, Denny, Zoe, Mr. Bill, Buffy, Augie Chloe, and Dahle, and those just since we've been married!
But we've never had a dog named Spot.
My guess is he was asking what breed the dog was. But I wasn’t sure. Maybe he’d have been satisfied with the size. Or maybe he wanted to know about the dog's disposition. Was Spot friendly? Did he bite? Did he jump on strangers and give them big juicy slobbering kisses? When he asked what kind of dog, did he mean well trained from which he hoped to glean something about me? I finally decided that telling him the breed was the best answer to his question.
I have a confession, something I need to get out of the way before I continue with the story. I’ve never really had a dog. There have been, and currently there are, dogs in the house I live in but to be accurate, they never belonged to me. It was always my brother's dog or my sister's dog or my wife’s dog. They were also family dogs, but that fact was secondary.
The only thing I was sure of was that choosing a dog’s name for a security question had seemed daunting at the time, and so I had chosen “Spot”.
I then realized I still hadn’t answered his question. I started picturing the dogs we'd owned, trying to decide which one looked most like a Spot. I didn’t want to disappoint him.
The problem was he seemed impatient and frustrated. And that added to my building tension. I had to say something…
“A Shih Tzu!” I blurted out rather unconvincingly. “My dog… Spot… Is a Shih Tzu! Spot’s a Shih Tzu…”
He looked puzzled. And then disappointed. His face said, “Who names a Shih Tzu, Spot?” He tried to smile, but it was as awkward as our whole dog conversation had been.
Fortunately we finally got back to business.