Editor’s note: John Rice has the week off. Please enjoy this column from Jan. 5, 2000.
Remember all those worries about Y2K problems? Well, those dire predictions all came true at our house.
Our Y2K nightmare began on the afternoon of the 31st. I had these three exotic fish, you see, that I had nurtured for more than a year. And, at 3 p.m., they all started doing the backstroke. It was heartbreaking, flushing the toilet for each burial at sea. I knew right away they had been killed by a computer virus. And vowed never again to purchase pets from www.goldfish.com.
Later that afternoon, our vacuum cleaner became the next Y2K victim. We had grown quite attached to our carpet cleaner, as it gave off a pleasant aroma of pine needles. However, on the last day of the century, it started sounding like a jet engine with a broken muffler. And the poor thing had such little suction, we had to pick up the dirt by hand and drop it inside. I was kicking myself for buying the Hoover 3.1, instead of the Hoover 95.
We called Trage’s to get a replacement, but they were closed for inventory. Inventory? Isn’t that counting things? And isn’t our computer’s inability to count past 1999 the source of the Y2K problem? By the way, my personal computer is so screwed up on the date, it thinks we’re back in the Ming Dynasty.
Anyway, my Y2K problems continued to mount on New Year’s Eve. At about 7 p.m., the drain pipe on my sink started gushing water all over the floor. I slapped my forehead, remembering how I had implanted the Drano microchip, hoping to avoid clogs. Now that little puppy had blown a hole right in the pipe.
Ah, but there was more trouble to come. A sudden surge in the world-wide electrical grid made the light bulb at the top of our stairs pop. We were still reeling from this, when we noticed the three-way bulb in the living room would only work on the 60 watt setting. We couldn’t take any more. We groped our way through the dimness to escape the house before further catastrophe.
We took shelter at a neighbor’s house, but she had her own Y2K problems. It seemed her new credit card bore an expiration date of Jan. 1, 3011. She was naturally upset. We tried to calm her by pointing out that, if she paid off the balance every month, she’d be paying no interest for 1,000 years. This didn’t help, because she had never paid off a credit card balance. She also feared collecting social security for the next 980 years was not going to be enough to keep up with the payments.
Seeing civilization crumbling around us like this was depressing, so we headed to the Madison Street celebration to get our minds off Y2K. At midnight, though, we learned Y2K not only affected computers but also the human brain. I mean, can you imagine thousands of people unable to count backward from 10? Luckily for us, the police didn’t consider the lack of countdown to be the failure of a mass sobriety test.