Hey Dummy, I said to myself, if you’re going to be late once every fifty years on your credit card bill, why not put the sucker on autopay?

Actually, a lot of people addressed me in that fashion, but I still hear it in my voice. I didn’t pay the finance charge, which was considerable. On the advice of everyone in the whole world, I called the company and got it removed. I used my quavery voice and words like “Gracious” and “Tarnation” and “Dear.”

Still, autopay would have prevented all that. I have that bill and four other utilities that still come through the mail. I have resisted going paperless out of a sense of loyalty to the Postal Service. But I can’t save the Postal Service all by myself. I could when I was a letter carrier, and I did, but they’re on their own now. That’s why things went to hell after I retired.

So one day I sat down and plotted out my paperless future. All these bills have been coming for years with enticements for going paperless so I figured all I needed to do was express an interest and my wishes would be granted. I started with the credit card bill. Couldn’t figure it out right away, or possibly ever.

Shoot. Well there’s still the two electric companies, the internet, and the gas company. All of them required me to set up an online account, easy peasy. Not! One of them kept sending me in a loop where when I set up my username and password and hit Submit it started me over again. I gave that a half hour and gave up. Tearing up paper would be more satisfying than clicking off, by the way.

Second utility was way slicker. I got it all filled out in a snap and hit Register and the new screen had a pretty red banner at the top saying “We were unable to process your request. Please try again in a few minutes.” It must have been a very specific few minutes, because I got the same result five times over three days.

The third utility would not let me put in a password. I usually use the suggested passwords with all the letters and numbers and doodly keys but they wouldn’t take any of them. My email tipped the whole screen to the left with the weight of Reset Password messages but it was still no go.

The Internet bill seemed offended that I’d even contacted the site. I even put in my account number but they wouldn’t get me any further than that. I had a little chat with the robot in the chat box and discovered they had my old email address. Which I could have fixed myself, if I had an account set up, but I didn’t. So I had them fix that, and then it was just a matter of filling out the rest. Three or four stabs at a password before I hit the sweet spot, but then all was complete, and I hit the submit button, and there, bright and shiny, was a new screen that said “HI, GINGER!”


My thirty-two character random password with the upper and lower case letters and numbers and symbols, none of which could be repeated three times, got me Ginger? I investigated.

Sure enough, now I know Ginger, and her home address, and the fact that she owes the company $103.50, which is twice what I owe them.

I don’t know why I need such a secure password if they’re just going to give me someone else’s pertinent details. She’s on autopay so I can probably access her bank account numbers, but I’m not evil enough to know how to benefit from it.

The credit card was the most baffling. I’ve got that online account set up already and they seem to recognize me when I come calling. But nowhere on the site did I see how to set up autopay. So I hit the search bar. “How do I set up automatic payments?” I asked politely. They popped right back.

“You can set up automatic payments through your online credit card account.”


“You can set up automatic payments through your online credit card account.”

Says you! I did figure out how to add an external account but I don’t know if it’s merely associated with my credit card, like they’re pals, or if there’s going to be some communication between them. I dug a little deeper.

Twenty-five full minutes later—and I swear, I’ve been around this internet more than once or twice—I finally set up autopay. It was buried ten deep in drop-down menus. The Autopay option was the second cousin eight times removed of the home page.

Damn. I should’ve given them Ginger’s account number.