It Started With a Phone Number.

There are times when, even as I see how necessary it is, I despise how overcomplicated our technology has become.  That’s not me playing the part of a technologically challenged old bat.  You should’ve heard the string of curses I muttered as I tried to log in to my email accounts today.

It started when I noticed that my author email account had outdated contact information.  I’d changed phones (and phone numbers) about a month ago and the old number was still on my Gmail account.  That might’ve been a problem should I ever lose my password.  Time to update it.  That’s where it prompted me to log in.

Guess what I forgot?

Thankfully recovering my password for that email wasn’t a big deal.  A matter of reading a nearly illegible captcha, giving up details like the last password I remember and my mother’s maiden name, and I was back in.

Here’s where the real problems started.  For some reason, I was kicked out of my main email account and I couldn’t remember the password for that either.  No problem, right?  I just went through this procedure.


I had two-step verification enabled on this account.  That’s where if you ever try to sign in on an unfamiliar device, Google sends a verification code to your phone to make sure some prince in Nigeria didn’t get hold of your login.  That would make things problematic if the codes are being sent to a number I no longer have, because you can bet I never updated the contact info on that account either.

Apparently your only option left after your phone number doesn’t work and you don’t have the foresight to save some backup codes, is to let Google sort everything out.  That supposedly takes 3-5 business days, but I’m willing to bet with Christmas around the corner it’s going to take me even longer.  And that’s assuming they don’t think I’m an exceptionally sneaky Nigerian prince.  Thankfully, I can still access both emails from my phone.  I only have to hope I’m not kicked out from there too.

It’s not a great loss, I suppose, because I’m not anticipating anything useful going to my main account these days.  But it is terribly inconvenient having those extra layers of complication to unlock what is really a personal email account of little importance.  I spend more time dodging sale emails than I do sending out state secrets.  (JUST KIDDING, NSA!)

Lessons learned here:

  • Always update your contact information.
  • Saving backups aren’t just for manuscripts.
  • Don’t bother with 2-step verification.

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