By Hannah Reich Berman

Two years ago I became an addict. My addiction did not involve drugs, drinking, smoking, or even eating excessive amounts of chocolate–despite the fact that chocolate is the one thing that I could easily become addicted to. My addiction was playing a game on my iPhone.

It began innocently, two years ago, when two of my grandsons decided to teach me how to play. The game, known as Candy Crush, was fun. Initially, I played only occasionally. It was perfect for passing the time when I was forced to sit in a waiting room. But after a while, it became a little less enjoyable. Every person I knew who played this game–which included some of my grandchildren and several of my friends–had reached a level in the upper hundreds; one or two of them were even on a level above one thousand, while I was stuck on the embarrassingly low level of 150. My success was far from impressive. But I kept at it. In fact, whenever I had a few minutes to spare I picked up the iPhone and played.

Last week the unthinkable happened. My six-year-old iPhone began to act strange. I sensed that it was time for a new phone.

The day I decided to purchase a new phone started out just fine, because, happily, the two brothers who own and operate the Verizon store in my neighborhood had forgotten who I was. At one time they knew me all too well. Several years ago, when I was having a hard time learning to use my iPhone, I returned to their store so often that they both cringed when they saw me walk in the door. They knew I would be asking for help. On one occasion, as soon as I entered the place, one brother suddenly got busy on the phone and the other one ducked down behind the counter. Undaunted, I yelled out, “Hey, guys, I see you, both of you, and I’ll wait until you are available.” After a few minutes they gave in and one of them helped me with my (latest) problem. That was four years ago.

Since that time, things have been going smoothly for my phone so I have not had the need to go back to them for help. It appears that, in the interim, the boys had forgotten about me. Neither of them seemed to recognize me. (I figured that out when neither one tried to hide when I walked in.) I was able to walk right up to that counter and tell one of them that I needed a new phone. He was very helpful. I told him that I was not in the market to spend $700—$800, so we settled on the iPhone 6S. Even that one did not come cheap. While there was no upfront charge, it gets paid out monthly over a period of two years, and the cost to me will add up to approximately $600.

The fellow assured me that I wouldn’t lose any information by making the switch. He transferred all of my contacts to my new phone, and I had all the same apps that were on my old one. It did not occur to me to ask him about anything else, such as Candy Crush.

So the next time I picked up that new phone and attempted to play the game, I learned that everything had been wiped out. I was back to zero. I wanted to cry. How could that have happened? But the good news was that I could start fresh and maybe this time I would progress more rapidly. It was doubtful, but I told myself that it was possible. Maybe!

Nevertheless, I was frustrated by having to start from zero. I called Wendy, my tech-savvy friend, and told her what had happened. Her first comment was, “I don’t understand. When I got my new phone I didn’t lose my game. That should not have happened.” Stumped, I said, “Well maybe it should not have, but it did!” She thought for a minute and then asked me if I had been playing Candy Crush on Facebook. My response was my usual, “Uh, I don’t know.” All I knew was that I played.

The next day, when Wendy came over to my house for one of our marathon mah-jongg games, she arrived early in order to check things out for me. She picked up my new phone and immediately determined that I had indeed been playing the game on Facebook. With a big smile on her face, she touched the phone’s screen in a few places and then handed it back to me. “Open Candy Crush and see what happens,” she instructed. I did as she suggested and, sure enough, I was once again on level 150.

On one hand I was delighted, but on the other hand I was not. Because when I had found that I was back to zero, I almost overcame my addiction and actually considered quitting. I would stop playing the game! But now that I was back to the level where I had left off, my addiction returned in full force. I knew I would be playing again whenever I got the chance. That’s just the way it is.

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.


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