Monday, December 31, 2007

Help! It's Y2K!!!

Remember the panic? People stockpiling jugs of water, canned goods, and batteries; emptying out ATM machines and stashing cash in mattresses. Some people went so far as to find bomb shelters or escape routes. It really was a crazy time. Companies were in a fever to make sure they weren't the ones on the January 1 news as the morons who failed to be Y2K compliant. Personal, economic, governmental and corporate paranoia was strong in the months leading up to New Year's Eve.

But in my house, the fear was palpable in our basement in the week before New Years. My husband was absolutely convinced that some Russian bomb was preprogrammed to hit Washington, DC and wouldn't be Y2K compliant. And as the clocks struck midnight across the time zones, that one missile would make its way towards our home in Northern Virginia, a mere twenty minutes south of DC.

My husband tried to convince me that we should just get in our SUV and take off driving into the mountains of western Virginia. I had to explain to him that those very mountains were rumored to have hidden missile silos of their own as well as bunkers for the safe keeping of Congress and the Senate. If anything was going to be a target, it'd be those mountains. He didn't care; he just wanted to get away from DC, the largest potential target in his mind.

So I acquiesced. His fears were real and he was scared to death. I couldn't blow it off because I didn't have the same fears. But I had some conditions. I explained that if we were going to just drive, I first wanted to stop and buy a gun. I told him that if we weren't killed in a direct blast, that we'd be sick with radiation poisoning and I'd rather shoot myself than die like that. I think that really shocked him! I also told him that if the world is going to end, then I want to do it someplace fabulous. If we were going to go somewhere, I wanted to go to a tropical island and spend our time in the warmth of the beach and rebuild a life there.

I'm not sure which argument persuaded him to stay at home but something did. He spent New Year's Eve 1999 in our basement. He jokingly says that he spent the time wedged between the washer and dryer for protection.

Based on all this background, you can understand why ever December 31st, I chuckle. Obviously, nothing horrific happened. Aside from very minor blips, Y2K was a quiet event. And based on this background, you will come to see a very different side of me... the mischievous and well... joker side of me.

All night on December 31, 1999, my husband monitored the internet as the clock struck midnight in each time zone across the far east and Europe. Around 1:30am, I poked my head down to the basement to check on him. He wasn't too high strung so I decided it was time to tell him. The worst had happened.

"Hon, how you doing?"
"Oh, I'm okay."
"Okay. Um. I need to tell you something."
"Yes. There's been a Y2K glitch."
"Yes. In Rhode Island."
"Uh huh......"
"Are you sure you want to hear this?"
"Well. It seems that there's been a Y2K glitch."
"In Rhode Island......"
--more silence--
"Well..... ev-i-deeeeeent-lyyyyyy...."
--intent staring--
"It seems that in Rhode Island...... The slot machines weren't Y2K compliant and quit functioning when the roll over happened at midnight."
--dead. silence.--

Yes, I still chuckle at that.

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