By Hannah Reich Berman

Some people have a tendency to routinely get themselves into trouble. I am one of them. Confusion often reigns supreme in my life. In my case, I overthink things. Apparently I have been programmed to do that, because my father picked up on it when I was just a small child. He would often say, in his endearing fashion of using both Yiddish and English in the same sentence, “Daineh kupp arbit overtime.” Translation: Your head is working overtime. He was right. And it occasionally creates problems for me.

Recently, I received an e-mail alerting me that there had been a failure to deliver a parcel to my house. The heading of the e-mail read USPS. Normally, I would have disregarded the notice but timing in life is everything and just a few days earlier I had ordered something. My friend Amy sells an amazing new line of anti-aging skin care products and I wanted to try some of them. I usually don’t do a lot of fancy footwork in caring for my skin. Moderately priced cosmetics such as concealer, lipstick, and mascara have always worked for me and I buy them straight off the shelf of any local pharmacy. But the passage of time has left its mark and, as I age, changes are taking place on the roadmap known as my face. I now find myself dealing with unsightly pouches under my eyes and bleeding lips. Note to all male readers: Bleeding lips is just an expression. I am fine. There is no blood coming from my lips! Mature women know that, a few hours after application, one’s lipstick often bleeds into the lines above her lips. This is called bleeding. And it is not attractive.

When the facial changes first became noticeable, I bought creams and lotions in a valiant attempt to stop the bleeding lips and to reduce the under-eye puffiness. Nothing worked. The only thing that was ever reduced was my pocketbook. And then Amy started selling anti-aging creams. Unwilling to take anyone’s word that anything was going to help me, I held off buying anything more. And then, suddenly, I saw living proof that the products work. I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a long time and complimented her on how terrific she looked. When she told me the new product she was using, I realized that it was what Amy was selling. I was ecstatic. The next day I placed an order! And that is how it happened that I was expecting a parcel. My creams were being shipped via UPS but I got confused when I saw the letters USPS. It was that extra S that got me! There is an old Amish proverb that says trouble is so much easier to get into than to get out of. The Amish have something there!

By coincidence, it was just a few days after I had placed the order that the e-mail arrived. In my haste, because I wanted to get my hands on the creams as soon as possible, I opened it. The e-mail was short and simply stated that a package that was to be sent to me was undeliverable and that I should print out the label, as indicated in the body of the e-mail, and bring it to the nearest post office to retrieve my parcel. Huh? The name of the post office wasn’t mentioned so how was I to know if it was the Woodmere or the Cedarhurst post office? They are equidistant from my house.

I realized that something was fishy but that didn’t stop me. I took the bait. I tried to print out the label, but as I did so, a message popped up stating that this was invalid and that there was an error. Panic set in and I worried that I wasn’t going to get those creams that I so desperately wanted. Unable to print out the label, I printed out the e-mail instead, and ran with it to Amy. She took one look at it and said it was a scam. Why she immediately realized this while I had not is another one of my life’s mysteries. It is also why she is one of my ‘go-to’ friends. I have several of those.

“First of all, Hannah, USPS is the United States Postal Service. Your package is coming from United Parcel Service and that’s UPS!” Relieved, I left the store secure in the knowledge that I had not missed any delivery. Other than the creams, I had ordered nothing else in recent months. I thought to myself, okay, so it was a silly scam and I fell for it. No big deal! But what neither I nor Amy knew was that this silly scam was a virus. It had corrupted my entire computer.

Over the years, I’ve had as many colds, flus, and viruses as the next guy, but a computer virus was new to me so when my computer started to give me trouble, I didn’t immediately make the connection. For that reason, hours later, as I sat in front of my keyboard and monitor and discovered that I was unable to open my AOL, I assumed it was the fault of AOL. So I called them for tech support. The technician who attempted to help me asked if I had recently downloaded or installed any new programs. Knowing precious little about computers, I said that I had not. It didn’t occur to me to tell him about the wacky e-mail I had received that had turned out to be bogus. The nice man worked with me over the phone for close to an hour and eventually got things going with AOL again.

But less than five minutes after we concluded the call, the problem returned. I was perplexed. And now, in addition to being unable to use AOL, I was also unable to work in Microsoft Office. Realizing that my computer was having issues, I called for help from my computer-savvy friend, Lester. Lester, like Amy, is another one of my saviors. He came to my house, sat down at my computer, and tried to figure things out. He too asked me several questions, similar to what the guy from AOL had asked. I remembered that silly e-mail that I had opened. I told Lester about it. “That’s it, Hannah. It was more than just silly. It contained a virus!”

I only recovered from the shock when he said he would take care of it–clean it out or whatever it is that one does to get rid of a virus. I never pay much attention to his vernacular. The only thing that ever matters to me is that he will help me. And he always does. I would very shortly have my computer back in full working order. Little did I know that it would be no simple matter. It took time for him to get rid of that virus. Who knew that computer viruses have a name? I didn’t. The name of this one was malware and it was a beaut!

Lester got the job done but he was unable to use any of the usual programs to do it because those programs are not compatible with Windows 8 or 8.1. And wouldn’t you know, 8.1 is what I have. So he went another route. He rid my computer of that malware by rolling my AOL back to a date before I had received the offending e-mail. Fortunately, all my files and folders were safe and secure and the only thing I lost were the e-mails that were sent to me after that date.

After it was done, I mentioned it to a friend who explained to me that those e-mails are not lost because I should be able to see them on my iPhone! And I could–if I knew how to use my iPhone to its fullest advantage. But so far I do not. So it may take a bit longer for me to catch up on what I missed. But that’s the way it is. v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.


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