Nobody ever realizes they’re hooked until it’s too late. I suppose that’s always the way with an addiction, isn’t it. Nearly always perhaps. I wouldn’t have said it was an addiction but apparently I meet all the criteria. I even got an invite to join a help-group, one of those step things where you surrender yourself to a higher power or something. Bit over the top that, isn’t it?
It started out with a few games when I was waiting for some printing, a big long document on old whirring printer. I was quite good, right from the off. You could change the background and toggle the sound on and off. Nice little touches those were, although I didn’t have the music on much. Just it was nice to know I could if I wanted to.
I liked the ones where you could post your high scores online. I was usually in the top 20, sometimes in the top 10. And when I realized that was the whole world not just the UK, well how impressive was that? Only 8 people in the whole world were better at this game than me. Number 8. In the world. Practically Olympian standard I was.
The PCs at work didn’t connect to the Net, but there were a few games on there so I used my lunchtimes to practice. My desk faced out into the office and as we were on the third floor, there was no risk anyone would see in through the window. Then when I got home I’d do my proper playing with tournaments and leader boards and forums. I got quite well known in certain circles.
My friends said I should get out more and that I’d never get a proper girlfriend if I played solitaire all the time. Maybe I didn’t want a girlfriend, did they think of that? Unless she was a player too, I suppose. But solitary is kind of the opposite of a relationship, so I gave that one a miss. About Easter they stopped inviting me to go out with them. And I had online buddies anyway.
My boss caught me playing one afternoon when I should have been working on a sales spreadsheet for garden furniture. I was so engrossed in the game I didn’t see him coming. I mean I was about to beat my high score and in a record time, that was the only reason I carried on past lunchtime. I suppose I shouldn’t have called him such a rude name when he told me to stop and broke my concentration.
He said I was on a warning and I mustn’t play games on work PCs at any time, not even in my lunchtime. I tried to argue that wasn’t for him to say but he reckoned the machines were for business use not for staff entertainment. And he rang my Mum and told her too. So she started keeping an eye on me at home too. She’d pop into my room with cups of tea every 15 minutes and make up all kinds of excuses to come and see me. If I didn’t hide the game quick enough, she’d have a right go at me.
She went online and found this site for people addicted to the Internet. I said that was ironic and she said not to be so smartarse all the time. She printed off all this stuff about what it means to be addicted and how to tackle it and left copies all over the house.
She’s cut off the broadband account until I get it under control. But it’s not a problem. I can control it, I can.