Have you ever tried to fill out an online form so you could enter a contest to win a coupon for dog food… or tried to buy tickets to see the local spoken word revival of the Broadway hit CATS…and been stopped cold in the process at some point by a series of incredibly fuzzy letters and numbers that look like they were regurgitated by a fun house mirror?
Then, not only did you have to try to look at these without experiencing vertigo, you were also instructed to replicate them in a tiny box to prove yourself human?
If so, you have grappled with my nemesis: CAPTCHA.
CAPTCHA is a program that was ostensibly created so companies could be sure that their online order forms or registrations were being filled out by real, live human beings and not robots.
I don’t buy that for one second, though. CAPTCHA was obviously created by some angry malcontent sitting in his parents’ basement trying to monetize his attempt at revenge on humanity.
Still don’t believe me? Examine this excerpt from the official CAPTCHA homepage:
CAPTCHA is a program that generates impossible sequences of numbers and letters to make people prove they are human. CAPTCHA’s ability to frustrate is universal, thus working across all countries and formats. The genius of CAPTCHA is that most don’t even have actual solutions! Robots operate with logic and will move right along. Actual people are quite stupid and persistent. They will keep trying and trying to prove their humanity long after the computers have cut their losses and moved on to wreak havoc on other non-CAPTCHA protected websites. Click here for our affordable pricing guide!
There is nothing I hate more than encountering a CAPTCHA when I am in a high pressure situation. If you are trying to buy tickets to a hot show, they only allow you to secure them in your check out cart for 4 to 5 minutes before releasing them to the next customer.
Time is of the essence! The last thing I want to see as I’m finishing up my order for front row seats to The Susan Boyle Christmas Experience is a damn CAPTCHA staring me in the face.
It always starts for me, as with so many other things, with denial.
Lisa: Hey! This looks like an easy one! It’s not even blurry!
Lisa: Okay, no problem….7…6…2…N…C…6…j…5…2
Lisa: Oh, SHOOT. That wasn’t right. Okay, no problem. Let’s see the next one. I’ll get my glasses. That will totally help.
Lisa: Oh, hell. One of those divided ones. This one is a bit more challenging. That’s okay. I can do it. 2…3…is that an “h” or an “r” with a “j”? hmmm…h…A…C…T…U?
Lisa: DAMN IT!
After two tries I usually hold my face *THIS* close to the computer screen and squint my eyes because that is obviously helpful.
Lisa: Is there a “1” before that “7”? I just can’t tell! Okay….1…7….0…2…k…D…g…is that an “o” or a button?…O…I swear that is an upside down “t” but that can’t be right…I…R
Okay, this is the point where it gets serious. You’ve already messed up three attempts. You can literally feel the Susan Boyle Christmas Experience slipping through your fingers.
Lisa: OHMYGOD…You’ve got to be kidding me.
Because what else can you say when faced with something that’s blurrier than the Vaseline’d lens they used to shoot Joan Crawford in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”.
When I get one like this (and after I stop screaming), I just skip that CAPTCHA without even guessing and move on to the next one.
Now, when you are totally desperate and you see something like that on your computer screen, you might think, “This is a good time to click the audio button and just transcribe what the voice tells me.”
Hahahahahaha. Oh, Lawd. If you think that, you’ve obviously never clicked the audio button, my friend. Not only is the CAPTCHA robot voice the stuff of nightmares, it’s also conveniently unintelligible.
CAPTCHA robot voice: Niiiiiiinerfivineineinenine…fiiivevennnvefiiiiivefive Bleepblotwinningdliblahblahpingerererebloop
Lisa: Seriously, what the hell? Am I supposed to put 95…or 99995555 or 99555 or what? How does “bloop” translate to a letter of the alphabet?
But the good news is that you don’t have to worry about it any more. By the time you are on your 5th attempt the tickets have been taken from your cart and given to some other fan of light contemporary adult holiday music. You are left with nothing. (Nothing except the strong desire to throw your laptop across the room.)
It can’t just be me, right? Everyone else can’t be effortlessly zipping through these things when they’re entering the Hidden Valley Ranch Online Sweepstakes or subscribing to the Quiznos Online Monthly Newsletter, can they?
If you’d like to leave a comment or give your secret to decoding the demonic CAPTCHA, do not fear:
THE DOSE OF REALITY IS AN ABSOLUTELY CAPTCHA FREE ZONE!!