On Account of Numbers

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My phone bill lists both my phone number and my account number. Why do I need a separate account number? If you dial my phone number, isn’t the reason you get me and not someone else because my phone number is unique? Why did I need a separate unique number for the account?

I asked someone about this. Now, I should say—in the interest of full-disclosure and all that—that the person I asked is not in any way affiliated with the phone company and has no authority to speak on their behalf. Why did I ask him, then? Because he was standing there when the question came to my mind.

It is his opinion that I have separate account number (and he does, too) because if I didn’t, then anyone who had my phone number would have my account number. “OK,” I said. Then later, after he had left, the following pithy quote came to mind, “So?”

So someone has my telephone account number. What could they do with it? Charge extra phone services to me? I can’t get the phone company to give me the services I signed up for, so good luck with that!

And then there’s my credit card. When I call in to the credit card company for whatever reason, the automated voice always has me type in the last four digits of my credit card. And then, when I get to speak to an actual, near-human representative, the person I am talking to says something like, “How can we help you today, Mister White?”

See, those four digits I typed in were enough for them to identify me. So, why do I need the other 12? And then, sometimes, the other twelve aren’t enough and I have to give them the three digits from the back of the card. Why weren’t sixteen digits enough? Why do I need to give them 19? And, next to those three digits on the back are 4 or 5 more digits (I can’t be bothered to check right now because that would require standing up, taking out my wallet, etc.). I’m sure, pretty soon, someone’s going to tell me they need those other digits, too. I like to think I’ll have the intestinal fortitude (which, doctors say, is actually located in either the lumbar region or the carburetor) to say, “No! This has gone far enough and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Which is what I should have said the other day at the prison, if I hadn’t really wanted inside. But I did want inside (to visit an inmate, not become one), only I was stopped by the guard who told me I couldn’t visit a prisoner while wearing shorts. So I had to go into the wonderful town of Plainview (official motto: “When we say ‘Plainview’, we mean PLAIN view!”) and purchase a pair of jeans. What kind of sense is that? If I were going to smuggle something into the prison, it would sure be harder in shorts than in jeans. Maybe the guards just don’t want to have to touch actual skin when they go all TSA on us. But they’re wearing rubber gloves, so what’s the big deal? Maybe it’s because the prisoners can’t wear shorts and they don’t want anyone making them feel bad. Dude, they’re IN PRISON. I think anything I do or wear is going to remind them that I have freedoms they don’t. Considering the place isn’t air conditioned, why can’t I be comfortable?

So I went into town and purchased a pair of jeans. I didn’t use my credit card, but they did ask me for my phone number. I didn’t give them my account number, though, so I guess I’ve done my part to nip white collar crime in the bud.