Thank God it's Friday

28th January 2000 at 00:00
Monday We've just been linked to the council's voicemail system, which means we can now call in from outside and listen to our messages. But to get into it I need to dial a seven-digit number, followed by my five-digit internal direct line number, followed by a six-digit security passcode. I settle on the digits of my birthdate for my security code, which gets me thinking about all the other numbers I have connected to my work. Along with my union membership number, there's my payroll number, my national insurance number and my DfEE number. And now there's a five-digit entry code on the main door to protect us from unwanted visitors.

Tuesday The postman arrives with a catalogue from a mail order company. As a "valued and long standing customer" (one T-shirt ordered five years ago and returned as too small), I have been generously allocated my own "privileged shopper number", which will guarantee a speedy response to my next order.

Wednesday I use my mobile phone to check my voicemail. Somewhere I have a note of its security pin, smartcard and IMEI codes which will prevent its being used if stolen. I also have personalised insurance should I ever damage it in a bout of phoe rage.

My car tax is due for renewal. I need to know my car's registration number, my driving licence number and my insurance policy reference number.

Thursday I telephone the bank to check my monthly statement and have to give my account number, my postcode and my date of birth before the voice at the end of the line is happy I am who I claim to be.

I tot up all my financial numbers. There's my pin number for the cashpoint, my credit card number and my account numbers for a couple of storecards. My building society shares have their "unique reference number to be quoted in any correspondence". Perhaps this is what the national numeracy strategy is really all about.

Friday I open my mail to find renewal reminders for a monthly magazine subscription and my National Trust membership. Each carries yet more reference numbers.

I wonder if some enterprising company would be interested in producing a purpose-designed book to keep them all in? If so I'll be the first in the queue - ready to pay by simply "quoting my credit or debit card number and expiry date" of course.

Ann Hollands is part of the learning support servicein an inner-London borough


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