It's the little things

You'll be happy to hear, dear reader, that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. A cross I had been bearing for the past couple of years has been taken away. I've gone through the tunnel and have come out the other end into the light. Hell, I'd even say there's been an awakening.

I invariably love it when there's a part of my life where I can cut out the middle man, where I can increase my level of independence and responsibility. To paraphrase Voltaire (as well as an arachnidically gifted fellow): with great responsability comes great power. Not surprisingly, then, when home banking became a thing many years ago now I was first in line to try it out. For those of you unfamiliar with the procedure—hello, readers from the US—the bank issues you a battery-powered card reader, which you can use to authenticate against their website. While offering me many years of hassle- and middle man-free monetary exchanges, this card reader was also the source of my abovementioned hardship. You see, whenever you enter your PIN number on this little device, the following message pops up:

Oh, how this message irked me! It. Drove. Me. Nuts. No, not because it's written in ALLCAPS. After all, both PIN and OK are acronyms (of sorts). Nor was I bothered by the lack of functional vocabulary items. Screen real estate is highly precious on a device this small, so a switch to headlinese made perfect sense. No, the thorn in my side was that exclamation point at the end of this pseudo-sentence. The card reader is not just informing you that you have correctly entered your PIN number, it is shouting ecstatically: Fantastic, you got your PIN number correct! Great job! Every time I felt like screaming right back at it: Of course I got it right: it's four numbers for cryin' out loud and I enter them all the time! Why on earth would I get them wrong? It was especially maddening when you had to enter your PIN a couple of times in quick succession (once to log in, once to sign a transaction, etc.). Every Single Time the exclamation point was there, like an overencouraging parent giving a pep talk for their two year old.

There was nothing I could to to right this wrong, however, so I suffered in silence. Until last week, that is, when I received a brand new card reader from the bank. They were revamping their home banking infrastructure and asked me to use the new card reader from now on. Imagine my joyful surprise when, after entering my PIN number for the first time, this showed up:

No more exclamation point! I almost couldn't believe it, and immediately entered my PIN a second time to check that this wasn't just some random fluke, but no sir, this was the real deal. The exclamation point was finally gone. Balance had been brought to the Force. I could sleep peacefully again.

  1. I tried to get a friend of mine who works for the bank that issued the card reader to bring up the issue with his bosses, but he didn't seem to appreciate the poignancy of the matter.