How It Went


I bought a TV yesterday. It took twenty minutes to check out but felt like many. I wanted to apply for the credit card and get 10% reward points. Right off the bat, they looked up my account and confirmed my address. I’m at the mercy of my merchant. My personal data laid bare for yet another retailer. 


Enter baby Elanor. Her doting dad wheeled her up with a look of forlorn pleading and resignation. She was wailing. I assumed it was because she was annoyed  that we had to hand over a kitchen sink of  personal data to buy a TV, but alas, it was not. Why she was upset — we were stumped. It comes with the tyke territory. As the clerk read aloud, typed, and confirmed my digits over the tempest, I cringed. At this point, you could call them extra credit points for all the hoops I had to jump through just to sign up. As he worked, so did we. We strolled, we rocked, and we soothed our bambino baguette. Elanor and her mad-as-hell-and-she’s-not-going-to-take-it-anymore squalls rebelled against our attempts, our parenting. How could she have a teenager’s temperament already? 


They entered my driver’s license number and birthdate. Then I input the last four digits of my social security number in the terminal. They called my bank and handed me the phone. From my arms, Elanor took a swipe at it but I was faster. Remembering that if while on the phone you smile it comes across even if you have venom in your veins, I answered more, yes more, questions–to buy a TV. My husband took our hot potato from me and scooted outside for a change of scenery to where the crows foraged in their natural habitat, the parking lot. Out of the corner of my eye, it dawned on me– oh God, oh God, what is that? Does he see it? Yes, he sees it. It’s written all over his face. Elanor stared wide eyed at the ground too. Glossy pink and oxbow red innards, now outwards, shined on the sizzling blacktop. Peck. Peck. Peck. Elanor watched. My husband witnessed. Elanor inhaled, her lungs filling with urban air, paused, and let out a belly laugh that startled and broke up the murder. The clerk finally looked up from my life’s data and smiled. We were all smiling now. This bloodbath was almost over, right?


No. It was not. The bank wanted my social security number and birthdate. Then they sent me a text to confirm with a code. I wasn’t buying a vault – just a telly. This much hoop jumping is excessive, even for vaudevillian acts.  My husband looked at me through the window and shrugged. Elanor was finally content watching a crow having its lunch.


The bank person needed to talk to the salesperson again. A round-robin of more data slinging — with my data! I signed a few more docs on the credit card terminal, and wiped my brow.  Now I wondered if the big screen would even fit in our car. My dearest carted our sleepy, sagging child back in. I took her in my arms where she sighed, and fell asleep. Her face was flush and she felt hot. Maybe she was sick of silly questions, too? 


How It Can Be – And Someday Will Be To Apply and Qualify for a Credit Card….


I scan a QR code on my phone to launch the app of the electronics store. Since I’m already a customer, I can verify my identity using the powerful sensors on my smartphone, like the camera. The app verified my identity with a face scan and a picture of my ID, which remain private on my phone and are not shared with the company, or anyone else for that matter. The app, powered by Journey (an award-winning security company focused on frictionless, high veracity digital identity) connected all the backend dots without sharing them. It was easy and painless to buy a TV and get my points with the credit card. Still not sure it will fit in my car though. And by using the app powered by Journey, I did my part for the economy because the friendly salesperson was able to sell another TV. 


“Journey uses asymmetric encryption”, I told my super smart 4-year-old daughter Elanor as we stood in the short line, Jingle Bells dancing in our ears.  “The solution is to use symmetric keys to encrypt personal information instead of inputting it or showing it every time. Data is transmitted between two parties, say bank and retailer, while remaining unseen by Journey or any googly eyes.” Elanor smiled up at me. We were done in less than a minute even during the holiday rush. “With the time we saved, can we go to the toy section?” she asked. See? She is smart.    


Sheryl Headshot

Storyteller and translator of technical jargon. BA in English from UC Riverside.