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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: First World Problem (04/17/14)

TITLE: TB or not TB
By Wilma Schlegel


"Oh, for goodness sake!! This is getting really annoying. I am so sick of user ID's and passwords. How am I supposed to remember what I used for my flu survey last fall? Cheese and crackers! Was it my name?" Ginny painstakingly typed in 'GEdwards'. She was pretty sure that was her user ID. Now for the ridiculous password.

"Let's see....hmmm, maybe it was 'Lovethisjob', I've used that before." Immediately after she typed the word sequence, all the asterisks denoting her characters turned red, they were underlined in red and there was a red exclamation point behind them.

'Forgot your password?' The sign-up page asked.

"Yep, I guess I did - I'll have to reset." Ginny grumbled.

"Let's see, I think I'll pick 'whatawasteoftime'." Everything went red again. "Maybe I just need to type it again in that second box. " She was careful to type the exact word sequence again. Again everything went red. I do not have time for this, Ginny sputtered. "Maybe if I click on this stupid little red box next to the password space."

She moved the mouse so that her cursor would move to the red box. The mouse pad moved with her movement. The cursor moved one half of a micron, if that.

Ginny grabbed the mouse pad and winged it frisby-style across the room. It slid to its safe landing just inches from the locked office door, the door with one centimeter clearance at the bottom, the door it might have slid under. She guffawed at this. 'I can imagine the note we'd get tomorrow if that mouse pad had ended under the door.' "Can anyone explain to me why the mouse pad was on the floor in my office? This is not acceptable!" !!!!

Funny though that was to consider, Ginny resigned herself to the task before her. 'Honestly, this is ridiculous. Whatever happened to just giving the PPD, (purified protein derivative, tuberculin skin test) instead of this questionnaire? Another way to save money, I guess.

She moved the mouse easily and this time the cursor moved efficiently to the little red box, which then revealed its secret message: 'Your password must contain 10 to 30 characters; there must be at least one uppercase and one lowercase letter, one number and one special character.'


Nearly at her wits' end, Ginny typed '@Ridiculous1'. The characters were red as she typed but turned black when her password choice was complete. She had to enter it the second time and again the asterisks hiding her word sequence went in red but turned black on completion. She had a certain sense of satisfaction over using the word 'ridiculous'. 'That'll show'em,' she thought.

She hit the enter key.

'Password key not found'

Ginny threw up her hands and backed her chair noisily away from the computer. "That's it!" she yelled. "I doubt I've been exposed to TB, but I'm not going to give myself a stroke over doing this questionnaire. How important could it be anyway? "


The sun was hot, again, but it did nothing to warm Hlengiwe's wasting body. She convulsed with a movement, more from natural impulse than deliberate attempt, into the fetal position as she coughed. More blood, so much blood, how much more could she possibly cough up? No matter, she was in too much pain to care and too weak to do anything about it, or was it the other way around? She let her head rest in the pool of bloody saliva sinking into the dirt floor of her hut where she lay alone somewhere in the rural hills of Kwazulu-Natal. Perhaps the coughing would end soon, perhaps she would soon face her maker and feel peace and joy. Oh, but not yet, not the peace yet, she felt the coughs gagging her again...

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This article has been read 224 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 04/25/14
Excellent job with the topic, which was clearly evident by contrasting differences in the sobering conclusion. Well done.

God bless~
Joe Moreland04/26/14
Wow! You jerked me from laughter at your MC's frustration over a stupid password to a very sobering ending of someone dying from a real problem. Great job of providing perspective and illustrating the topic.

Nice job!
Sheldon Bass 04/28/14
Excellent job of showing the frustration that most of us have faced at some time with so many passwords and user names. You made it easy to relate with. I was left very curious about who was behind the office door. Higher management perhaps?

You gave us a stark contrast between the two crises presented. Good job.
Laura Hawbaker04/29/14
I liked this. I could so relate to the frustration of passwords and computers...and so not relate to the very real problem of TB. Good job, thought provoking.
C D Swanson 05/01/14

God bless~
Joe Moreland05/01/14
Congratulations on your EC placement. I really enjoyed this story...I just re-read it and it made me laugh and tear-up again.

Great job!
Tracy Nunes 05/02/14
Oh boy, could I ever relate! My list of usernames and passwords could practically be a book! You did an excellent job at contrasting the two. I was shocked at first with the complete change of pace and tenor but it was a perfect way to jar us into seeing the contrast. Wonderful! Congratulations!