Monday, October 25, 2010

Stolen Identity

The following narratives are based on actual events:

My friend's dad (to whom I shall henceforth refer as Mr. Parker) was once pulled over for a mild speeding infraction. As the officer approached, Mr. Parker rolled his window down and the usual license and registration jargon proceeded. Upon obtaining the necessary documents, the officer went back to his cruiser. Mr. Parker sat and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The officer stayed in his car for an unusually long time.

At long last, the officer got out of his cruiser and began walking back toward Mr. Parker's vehicle.

Carrying a pair of handcuffs.

The officer brusquely ordered Mr. Parker out of his Astro van.

"It seems, Mr. Parker, that you have been avoiding arrest over the past several months in no fewer than six states," he stated as Mr. Parker confusedly began opening his door.

"What?!" exclaimed Mr. Parker. "That's ridiculous! There must be some mistake!"

"You are Gary Parker of 12345 Oak Drive, are you not?"

Mr. Parker gave a hesitant nod.

"Well, my report says that you were last seen in Kentucky robbing a jewelry store."

Mr. Parker gave a hysterical laugh.

"I've never even BEEN to Kentucky."

There followed a pause in which Mr. Parker began pulling out his mustache (his heart-rate all the while accelerating) while a look of pitying comprehension began to dawn upon the officer's face.

"Well, sir," said he (eyeing Mr. Parker's faithful and rather delapidated Astro van with a look of understanding belief), "I'm afraid you are a victim of identity theft."


Yesterday, I was at work. (surprise)

A fellow grad student walked in and asked if I had registered for classes for Winter semester yet.

I had not.

So of course I immediately went to the BYU website and began sifting through the classes I was interested in taking. Upon finding the first one for which I wished to register, I clicked the "Add" button. The usual pop-up box appeared.

But then I realized this was not the usual pop-up box at all.

In glaring red letters, the system was informing me that the class for which I wished to register was not added due to a hold on my account.

I racked my brain, wondering what the reason for the hold could possibly be.

Did I have library fines?

I quickly checked.

No, no library fines.

Was something amiss with my BYU financial account?

I clicked on the financial account link on Route Y.

The page began to load. And load. And load.

At last, the page appeared. My anxiety was only heightened.




I owed BYU four-hundred ninety-five stinking dollars?! But for what? I clicked on the details.

First item: a five-dollar testing center fee. I racked my brains. Had I taken a test last week? Yes. In fact, I couldn't forget that test if I tried. Three large blue books, three essays, three hours. But I hadn't taken it on a late day. There hadn't even BEEN a late day. Had there? Did my professor cruelly make the last day a late day and then not tell us?

But wait.

The day listed on my account was not even the day I had taken the test!


Second item: apparently, I had recently decided to purchase a bus pass. In the amount of $100. Ridiculous. Not possible. I can name the cities in which I have ridden public transportation (in the United States, anyway), on one hand. And none of those fingers is called Provo.

More confusion.

Third item: $390 in unpaid tuition. At this, my panic did a little flaring. I had definitely paid my tuition for fall semester. Months ago. On time. Using nearly all my summer savings. This couldn't be happening! No. I wasn't going to let those forty hours per week spent in the library stand for nothing. If someone was stealing my precious BYU identity, I wasn't going to let them get away.

I dialed Financial Services.

A voice recording answered, as usual.

I pressed "0" to just skip right to the part where I could speak to an assistant. But alas, no such luck. I sat through the entire voice recording, which seemed to have to inform me of every minute detail regarding financial payments, scholarships, grants, and other forms of pecuniary assistance. When the recording was at long last concluded, my delight was only furthered as my ears were subjected to a rendition of that beautiful, rare, and always well-performed composition: Fur Elise.

After a few minutes of waiting--during which I realized Fur Elise might never again be un-stuck from my head--a cheery voice answered the phone and asked me what she could do to help me. Dispensing with the niceties, I got straight down to business and gave her my student ID number so that she could pull up my account and shed light onto my dire situation.

"All right," she said, "I'm looking at your account. What seems to be the trouble?"

"The trouble," I replied, "is that none of those fines are mine! I didn't take a test in the testing center that day, I never ride the bus, and all my tuition is paid!"

There followed a puzzled silence.

"I'm not quite sure I understand what you're saying," the assistant finally replied.

"Those fines!" I said, slightly exasperated. "They're not mine! And now I have a hold on my account, which means I can't register for classes. What am I supposed to do?"

Another perplexed pause.

"I see no fines," she said.

"But..." I said.

How could this be?

Who was clever enough to fine my account mysterious amounts of money, and then make it look as if nothing was amiss when the financial office viewed it?

What could I do?

And then, I saw it.

The answer to all my problems.

In fact, my problems were not mine at all!

At the top, left-hand corner of the screen was written a name. The account holder's name. And that name was not mine.

"Aha!" I cried euphorically. In my head.

Realization was dawning. Had I ever actually logged in? No. The computer had kept the previous user logged in. I had simply not noticed.

"Let me try logging out and logging in one more time, " I said aloud to the patiently waiting assistant.

I logged out.

I logged in.

No fines.

No holds.

No stolen identity.

I was free!!!

"Well, never mind," I said, "There's nothing wrong with my account at all."

"Great!" said my assistant. "Have a nice day!"

"Oh, I am!" said I.

I am.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


As I am an aspiring pianist, it is not surprising that my fingernails and I rarely agree about what is best for my health. After spending a few hours locked away in the vault (or any practice room, for that matter), my nails inevitably begin to protest. Chipping, cracking, or downright crumbling, they constantly attempt to impede my practice. But, lo! I am not one who gives in easily. There have been very few instances in which I was forced to heed the remonstration of my digits. My general rule of thumb (no pun intended) is to halt only when blood makes an appearance. Unfortunately, this is what happened yesterday.

I had clipped my nails in a very short fashion, mainly due to a certain trill in a certain Mozart sonata that I had decided must be played on the extreme tips of the fingers if I wish to play with the appropriate articulation and clarity. My second finger was quite tender (maybe I'd gotten slightly carried away with the shortness of my clipping), but--as a seasoned pianist knows--if one merely ignores this fact, the tenderness is replaced by a certain amount of numbness after a half hour or so, which in turn makes the remaining hours of practice entirely bearable.

And so, I finished my early-morning practice session with a slightly numb finger, but none the worse for the wear. I proceeded with the remainder of my day in the usual fashion: teaching, going to class, and then heading to the good ol' HBLL. (Well, to be technically correct, I was already in the HBLL, as that was where my class happened to be.)

Little did I know that my mistreated fingernails had taken upon themselves the arduous task of teaching me a lesson. Plotting and scheming, mulling over their less than pleasant allotment in life, they at last found a way to get back at me.

An hour into my shift, I went to look for an item for a patron. I bent down to grab a book, and the next thing I knew, my finger was searing with pain. A book with a cardstock-paper type cover had found just the right angle to insert itself between my fingernail and the skin underneath said fingernail.

Yes, it hurt a little bit.

Blood started gushing out by the pint, and before I knew it, I was lying on the ground pleading with my fingernails to forgive me of my horrific wrongdoings. Never again would I cut them so short! Never again would I practice till all that remained were chipped, sad excuses! Never again would I so heartlessly ignore their existence!

At last, after losing at least another twenty pints of blood (yes, I know the human body actually only contains 8-10, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it), I crawled back to my post at the reference desk and used the last bit of my strength to climb into the chair, cradling my injured finger in the opposite hand.

"What am I going to dooooooo?!" I moaned to my friend Joseph, who was sitting nearby on a couch.

Dear, kind, sincere Joseph looked up from his laptop and said, "I've heard soaking it in lemon juice really helps."

"Really?!" I asked both desperately and deliriously.

Of course, the ridiculousness of this statement dawned on me a few milliseconds later.


In other news:

Did you know the word 'gullible' has five 'l's in it?