A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Y2K - the event that never was

As I sit here whiling away the last hours of 2007, I started thinking about that grandest of all New Year's Eve's - 1999. Not only was it going to be the "turn of the century", but it was also the year of doom and gloom because of a bunch of COBOL programmers in the 60's who apparently didn't think there would actually be a year 2000!

At the hospital where I work there was a lot of hand-wringing and "task forces" beginning in early 1998 to overcome this dreaded problem. We sat around tables looking at all two-gazillion data systems to determine which of them could manage the new dates. Not many - it turns out. Some of the systems weren't upgradeable because the vendors also forgot there would be a year 2000. Some were upgradeable, but our hardward couldn't handle it. More wringing of hands.

My first husband had been one of those COBOL programmers and I asked him "What were you guys thinking??" He threw up his hands and said, "We figured that by the time 2000 rolled around, there would be all kinds of new programming languages and COBOL would be a thing of the past! We didn't think anyone would still be using it!!" Good planning, guys.

So, there is was. December 1999. We were told to not plan any vacations in case the hospital blew up and we were needed back at the front. Everyone was frantic about their home computers, digital watches, TVs - practically anything with a computer chip in it. There was nothing else on tv, radio, newspapers, or internet except the dreaded stroke of midnight on Dec 31. Would bombs go off? Would all the crazies in the world finally take it over? Would it be the "end of days" (as the Arnie movie predicted).

We watched. We waited. We planned. Some prayed. I remember sitting safely at home watching all the NYE celebrations around the world. Hey, Russia just turned the century and they're fine! Hey, France and Italy made it, too! Yippee, New York City came through safely!! Now it was our turn. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. And that was it. The clock read 12:01 and the world, as we knew it, still existed.

The next day, the big question was - did we all really do such an excellent job of planning that we warded off the total annihilation of the planet? Or was the whole thing much todo about nothing? Not sure we'll ever know. My ex believes in the first one because he was one of the planners. Of course, he was also one of the COBOL dudes so credibility is hurting.

The year 2000 and all the angst are now simply part of our history. It will be interesting to see what my grandkids think when they're older and reading about the Y2K frenzy in their history classes. My guess is there will be a lot of eye-rolling on their part.

1 comment:

judypatooote said...

Hi Sandi; Happy New Years..... Yes I do remember buying lots of bottled water, dry milk, just in case, canned goods and duck tape... and sitting with my head crunched down into my neck, watching the ball drop, just waiting for something to happen... Cursing my hubby for dying 5 years before, leaving me alone to face this event......whewwww....we made it.....I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.....it's just like the weather man's predictions around here.....last night (new years eve) we were told we were getting a huge snow storm, possible 12".....I quickly ran to the store, to stock some groceries since my frig was almost empty, except I have plenty of bottled water....I left for my friends house......when 10:00 came, and I saw the huge flakes and it was beautiful, but I didn't want to drive in all the snow, so I came home.......and the snow stopped, and we still haven't gotten anything...and it is the middle of new years day.....should I be grateful.....probably, but we are always scared into something....and the time you don't listen is the time it happens, weather it be terror, or weather.....boy I really rattled on, but I did enjoy your post... Again HAPPY NEW YEARS..... judy