AS of August this year, scribbling a vague approximation of our signature is no longer good enough to get us over the line with our credit card.
We now have to have a PIN number.
This seemed a bit hard when first announced, given the number of other PINs and IDs and usernames and log-ins we have to remember.
But given my dependency on credit, the powers that be probably figured I'd be incentivised.
And they were right.
To be fair, they gave me heaps of warnings.
There were letters, that I lost.
There were ads, that I ignored.
And ultimately, there was a sense something bad was coming if I didn't pull my finger out.
Something along the lines of "Transaction denied."
So as August approached, I made it a priority to find that letter from the bank with the new PIN.
And when I couldn't find that letter, I made it a priority to contact the bank to get them to send that letter again.
And when that letter didn't arrive in time, I prayed there was an amnesty for a couple of weeks, which there is apparently, but time is running out.
Surprisingly, when the letter did arrive, I found there was room in the brain for another four-digit PIN.
Of course I had to make room by forgetting about ebola, and war in the Middle East and Ukraine, and ICAC.
But I was prepared to make the effort because remembering my credit card PIN is a biggie.
More important, probably, than remembering my blood type.
And just out of curiosity, who out there can remember their blood type?
I rest my case.
The fact that I can remember my credit card PIN and not my blood type probably doesn't augur well for the day I need a transfusion.
But it does augur well for the day I need to buy stuff, which is most days.
On that front, the credit card PIN spells freedom.
If four numbers could spell.
And you consider a monthly credit card bill "free".
Of course, nothing can be further from the truth.
It just feels free at the time.
This sense of freedom doesn't happen by accident, by the way.
(Cue images of George Brandis collecting our metadata. Ugly.)
It's all part of the great epochal movement in the history of commerce to "infantalise" the process of buying.
By infantalise they mean to encourage the "I see it, I buy it" mentality of a child.
Minus the grown up, "can I afford this" or "do I need this" thoughts in between.
As far as big business is concerned, these thoughts are a handbrake on the economy.
And our nation doesn't need restraint.
Our nation needs us to flash our plastic.
Money has become too slow.
People who pay by cash hesitate.
And this is bad.
Credit used to be reserved for special people with collateral and prospects and something even in shorter supply these days, jobs.
But now the shackles are off.
Credit suppliers, once right royal tightarses, and now like the friendly people from the betting agencies who encourage you to gamble, in moderation, as often as possible.
And maybe that's a worry because the push to use PINs has been pitched as a security move.
But anything that enables me to use my credit card with any less thought than before doesn't seem so secure.
Particularly as we're now required to do so a lot more in public.
This thought occurred the other day at a supermarket self-serve checkout.
I could have been reading a WHO magazine. But that's not my role at the checkout.
That is my partner's privilege.
Not that I'm bitter about it, although of course, I am bitter about it.
Anyhow, my time to dance came and I stepped up to blip my purchases.
After bagging all my goods, I skipped the rewards button and went straight to the main game, the PIN.
Thank god I'd memorised it.
It was then I noticed people watching as I inputted my PIN.
I thought to hunch over the pad, like a cat chewing on a chicken wing, but that seemed a little paranoid.
Or was it?
I was later chastised by the WHO magazine reader for not doing so because maybe someone was watching.
Not the WHO magazine reader, mind you. She had been deep inside Orlando Bloom's latest adventure with Beibs and Leonardo.
But maybe George Brandis. Or someone even more menacing, possibly with tats.
Or, given how popular tats are these days, someone without. Possibly a rogue who might beat me up in the carpark for my card, the PIN of which he had memorised at the self-serve line-up.
You'd hope that sort of thing doesn't happen, but I wouldn't PIN my hopes to it.