Monika’s Musings

miscellaneous tidbits on marketing, advertising, and life in general

Just any number


You know, I am all about security measures, when they make sense. For example, yesterday I was ordering something on Amazon and it didn’t bother me (too much) to have to dig through my purse and then wallet to find my credit card, despite the fact that they have it, just because I was shipping my order to a new address. I get it that this protects me against possible credit card fraud and I happily comply.

Hell, for the sake of security, I am even OK to endure some ridiculousness, such as the liquid limitation of carry-on luggage.

However, often times these measures are either pointless in their nature, or made futile by the way they are exercised. Here’s a little story to illustrate this point.

While I was working in Budapest for 6 months in 2009, my friend Maria came to visit me for a couple of days. One day she had to have a brief business meeting, so she went to the office building where it was happening.

At reception, she was asked for her passport number.

I’m sorry, I don’t have it on me. I travelled with my ID card, she told the receptionist. Ah, alright, could she have that number, then?

Well … no. In the morning hurry, Maria had left her ID card at the hotel. But she really needed to get to this meeting.

Well, then, do you have an employee card?, the receptionist insisted. Rules are rules.

So … basically you just want ANY number?, my friend asked.

You would think this would expose the rule for being as dumb as it is, right? Oh, but no. The lady insisted. So Maria did a little experiment: she took out her employee card and read out the number – changing every third with an arbitrary number.

Thank you! I am happy you understand the importance of this safety measure, the receptionist said, while letting her in.

Indeed, my friend replied and went on to have her meeting.

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