For the entire year of 1999, a former co-worker of mine (we’ll call him “Thomas”) was worried that the world was going to end, due to The Y2K threat. For months leading up to the event, he envisioned, prophesied, and fell in line with all the entrepreneurial opportunists who predicted computers crashing in a conspiratorial display of fireworks previously unseen in today’s world. He was worried that cars wouldn’t run, banks would lose track of who owned what money, stocks would plummet, power grids would fail, and looters would ransack life as we know it.
Watching Tom was like having the golden ticket to the best show it town - and even though what happened through the final months of 1999 was painful to watch, I simply could not look away.
Tom spared no expense in his Y2K preparations. He filled his garage with so much dried camping food he had to keep his car outside. He buried coal in his back yard. He bought a generator, stockpiled water, fuel, and freon. He obtained a gun permit and brought his kids to the rifle range. He taught them to shoot. He scoured the internet for hours, looking for new proof of the world’s demise. He talked his father into buying supplies. If I’m not mistaken, he may have even closed his bank accounts… He preached the gospel of Y2K to anyone who happened to pass by his desk.
On the Eve of Reckoning, he sequestered his family at home. He secured the perimeter… And then, he waited.
Midnight steeped around the world without a blipped screen or an intergalactic wrinkle in the space/time continuum. In New York, Dick Clark harkened the New Year. The ball fell. The engineers of the Y2K Hoax counted their money and bought tech stocks. For the rest of us, it was business as usual.
The only real dim moment of the New Year came when my co-workers and I had to return to work. No one dared walk near Tom’s desk. We sat at our desks, read reports, checked our mail, and did whatever we could to look as busy as possible. Tom eventually approached my desk:
Tom: Happy New Year, Kelly!
Kelly: Happy New Year, Tom.
(outrageously long pause)
Tom: Well, I’m glad nothing happened, but if it did, I was ready!
Kelly: Yeah. If it did, I was going to come to your house.
That’s it. Tom’s entire nose-dive into the embarassing Y2K Conspiracy, the thousands of dollars embarassingly spent on unnecessary survival equipment, the uncomfortable afternoon we spent when Tom brought his embarassing firearm into the office and asked me to be a character reference – shrunk to a “Preparedness” scout badge. “I was ready,” he said.
We never spoke of the event again, although I noticed that Tom soon bought a camper and began taking his family on weekend campouts…
Lemon, thy name is lemonade!
This year, Dave and I are having a low-key night. We’re going to a restaurant to hear some musicians we like, and be with people we like. Like me, Dave is not a big fan of NYE. He calls it Amateur Night, so we don’t feel obligated to do much of anything…
On New Year’s Day, the band is playing a hangover party at some Elks Club. They liked us so much last year, they’re having us back. They feed us. We watch them slip out of their hangovers – and perhaps slip back into them… We tell them funny stories. They tell us what period in their life Neil Young’s Old Man brings to mind. They sing Rider Blues with us. It's a nice gig.
Maybe someday, another great New Year’s hoax will come our way – The “Pros,” (like Dave and me) can watch the action ringside. I’ll even buy a ticket for Tom… And the New Amateurs – whether they be marketing victims or simple drunks – can entertain us in whatever way they see fit.
Labels: Miscellaneous Hoo Hah