Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A powerful word shares multiple meanings

     “You’ve been hacked.” Three little words can turn your world upside down. Suddenly an extra time-consuming burden falls on your shoulders.
      Just when you think you have passwords secured and firewalls in place, misery lifts up its ugly head.
     I had my credit card hacked on Cyber Monday. Pitiful isn’t it that I would even think of online shopping on such a day when the Internet predators are stalking in full force?
     All I was doing was purchasing a pair of boots in preparation for snow, and with a blink of an eye, a blizzard came out of nowhere from China.  
     Fortunately, my bank was right on top of it and had their routine down pat. I was talked through the process calmly from a person on the phone trained to offer a teaspoon of sympathy to hysterical customers, and I gave her an A rating on the follow-up survey.
     What stings the most is the loss of my personal privacy, although I shouldn’t be surprised at what information is out there.

     To this day I am still getting credit card information stored on various websites integrated with my new card.
      If only vitamin C and Echinacea would work preventing my online accounts from being invaded like it does building up my immunity.
     I have heard tales of people taking a year or two getting a bank account functioning properly. I hope you’re not one of those folks.
     You can never sympathize with someone else until it has happened to you. I promise to listen more attentively when a rational human being turns into a raving maniac who needs to share every single detail of his ordeal — the woes of the worst history case of hacking since credit cards were invented.
     The story gets grander at each telling, too, with additional whining for effect from the drama queen or king during his fifteen minutes of fame.
     The bank that I am dealing with terms it ever so politely —  “your account has been compromised.”  It’s useless ranting and raving.  I have to follow the procedures that are outlined for me, even though I want to cut to the quick and make everything right — like it was yesterday when I fell asleep.
     What a huge difference from the pleasurable excitement of the late 80’s statement: “You’ve got mail.”  
     I loved the movie with Tom Hanks and perky Meg Ryan. My then AOL account was bringing me news quicker than waiting for the postal person. Dating online was introduced to a whole new generation, too, and I fell right in with the hype.
    Hacked is not a new word in the dictionary, and I when I looked it up, there are a variety of meanings depending upon the subject matter.

     For example, every time I had a respiratory problem growing up, I would end up with a “hacking” cough. Yucky cough medicine along with a warm cloth of Vicks Vapo Rub around my neck would be what the doctor ordered. How that dry, deep cough would hurt my entire body making school an afterthought.
      Today, in a public place I steer away from hacking cough sounds knowing that germs are waiting to conquer someone somewhere whose defenses are down – please, not mine.      
     Airplane trips are the worst, and this week on a quick flight I heard a chorus of coughs floating up and down the aisle in mad counterpoint like the brisk tempo of an orchestral allegro movement layered upon a second theme.
      A familiar person is no longer at the cash register when I go to the supermarket. I hear rumors that she can no longer “hack it.” I guess the pressure became too great and the part–time job was not worth the effort. If she were to elaborate, she would explain that rude and demanding customers are hard to put up and keep a smile on your face, too.
     All writers’ fret that they can’t “hack it,” especially in the print media world, which is fast paced and geared towards a younger generation of readers. If they are indeed producing dull, unoriginal work, the term suits them.
     My mother would come back from the fish market on the dock and think nothing of “hacking” off the head of the bluefish with her trusty kitchen meat cleaver.

     She would go out to the backyard, take a wide board from the garage and put it between two sawhorses. Rolling away the thick tan butcher paper from the fish, she would prepare her workstation. She let her frustrations out lopping off fish heads splattering juice and flying scales within three feet. (Mom was big into fish chowders.)
    We kids laughed our heads off, too, watching her, and frankly, we were relieved that she wasn’t mad at any one of us right then.  
     It wouldn’t surprise you that on those nights I was involved in vicious fish head murders while running from the hacking hands of sundry characters waving cleavers wildly in the air, one being my eight-grade math teacher.
     Thumbing through the dictionary, hack is a term in masonry and politics. When a player in a game inflicts a kick or hit on another player, it is called a hack. Or a horse rented out for riding, an inferior or worn-out horse and an ordinary riding horse is a hack.
     I’m spending the rest of the day hacking around idly with no definite plan.