Dan Rattiner's Stories

Happy Birthday, Terri Ross

My wife and I share the same online calendar. It’s a pretty neat thing to do. She has it as an app on her cell phone and can enter from there. I have the app on my cell phone and can enter it from here. When either of us opens the app, we get both schedules. It’s great. We both know where the other one is.

But now we’ve been hacked. It may not seem like much, but wait until I tell you.

“Who is Terri Ross?” I asked my wife.

“I don’t know. Who?”

“It’s her birthday tomorrow. It’s in our calendar. I didn’t put her in there.”

“I don’t know anybody by that name,” she said.

We stared at each other for a few minutes.

“How do you know it’s a she?” my wife asked.

“Because her first name ends in an ‘i,’ that’s why.”

I showed her the note on my iPhone calendar. It reads “TERRI ROSS’S birthday.” As if I were possibly not to be believed, she looked it up on her iPhone. There it was.

“This is so strange,” she said. “If you didn’t do it and I didn’t do it, who did it? And WHY would they do it?”

If neither of us did this, I said, there’s only one conclusion to be drawn from this. We’d been hacked. Somebody’s stolen our passwords and weaseled their way into our calendar. They want to send us thither and yon.

We can’t go thither and yon if we have no idea who Terri Ross is.

“Maybe it’s Terri Ross herself. Are you sure you don’t know some computer geek named Terri Ross? How about just Terri?”

“I don’t know any computer geek named Terri.”

“I wonder if this is widespread,” I say. “I wonder if Terri Ross…Or someone PRETENDING to be Terri Ross…is putting this out all over. Trying to get presents. Or trying to get everybody feeling bad about not knowing who Terri Ross is?”

“Maybe she’s the new CEO at our provider?”

“Terri Ross?”

“Well, they have these things in there when you get the calendar. Columbus Day. President’s Day. Christmas Day, which is Jesus’s birthday. And you can’t take them out.”

“Well, we can take Terri Ross out.” I picked up my phone.

“Don’t,” my wife said. “If it’s supposed to be in there, we could get in trouble with our calendar provider. Maybe they’d cut us off. We wouldn’t want that.”

“Then we have to find out who Terri Ross is. Let’s Google her.”

There’s a Terri Lynn Ross, who has recently died in Florida and is sorely missed. There’s Terri Ross the marketing technologist, Terri Ross the real estate agent, Teri Ross the keynote and conference workshop speaker, and there’s lots and lots more. This wasn’t getting us anywhere.

We reconfirmed that neither of us knew any Terri Ross. Then I made a bold decision.

This is going to spread, I told my wife. I think I should call our service provider and tell them we’ve been hacked.

“Or updated,” my wife said.

“Or a terrorist attack. I’m going to be a whistleblower.”

I dialed the number, and after five minutes of listening to Johnny Cash, got through.

“May I have your name?”

“Dan Rattiner”

“Your birth date?”

I told her my birth date.

“Your current address?”

I gave her my current address.

“Your favorite color?”

“Blue”

“The name of your kindergarten teacher?”

“Why do you need all this?”

“We need to confirm who you are. We don’t want to talk to someone who is pretending to be you.”

“Someone IS pretending to be me.”

“Your first puppy’s name?”

“Kinky,” I said.

“How about your second wife’s birthday?”

“You can’t be serious.”

“You gave this to us before. I’m just checking we have it right on your records.”

“March 7”

“And the secret nickname you used to call her?”

“I’m hanging up on you.”

“Can you confirm you finished in third place in the archery competition at Camp Mah-Kee-Nac in 1967?”

I hung up.

Anybody out there know who Terri Ross is? No? Okay.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TERRI ROSS.

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