1. Supplier stiletto: The descent begins with an innocuous email from a supplier indicating your account has been sold and a new vendor will require a switch of e-commerce processing. Before you finish your polite reply, your blood begins to drip on to the floor.
2. Authorize auto-da-fe: You set up a new account with the vendor’s preferred gateway and discover that you cannot process anything without going to your bank servicing department first. Suddenly you can feel the burn.
3. Department of death: The servicing department doesn’t care that you have been processing credit cards for 20 years without a problem. They want an application. And all your personal information. Now. And no complaints or you are denied. Again. And again. You are checkmated by the devil in the Seventh Seal.
4. Gateways to perdition: Suddenly, you are approved to enter Jorge Luis Borges’ Library of Babel. The letters on every page are meaningless acronyms, every gateway you open leads to another gateway and another set of passwords you cannot remember.
5. Fat-finger apocalypse: You finally arrive at the last gateway. But your auto-correct inserts a “Z” for a “2” on the last pass code. Back to Stage 2. For infinity.
6. Notification ring of fire: At the end of infinity, the passcode works. But when the door opens, you are in a theater that streams endless, random email notifications with the Johnny Cash single soundtrack on an endless loop. You search in vain for an exit.
7. The crucible of security: Your seat falls through the floor and you enter pit of flaming security certifications, suspended over a vat of boiling tar. You must continue certifying or you will fall, but the more you certify the higher the flames grow. To quote the late Jim Morrison, an expert on this sort of thing: “This is the end.”
• Henry Dubroff is editor and owner of the Pacific Coast Business Times. He can be reached at [email protected]