A Y2K Hitch
By: Bernd Wechner
A Y2K Hitch
Author: Bernd Wechner
Well today's the day! It's Y2K. You still there? Lights still on? Quick go get a glass of water, tap still running? ISP operative? Well, if not I guess I'm talking to myself again.
Well, to be honest, I wrote this just before the big bang, so to speak. For all you or I know, I'm falling out of the sky in a Jumbo Jet this very minute, or running head long into an oncoming car because my power steering and ABS system forgot they should work in the year 2000!
Well, it's a new millennium, so enjoy it, if you can. Unless you enjoyed the going of the last one so much you still have a hangover fit for a planet ... Or is it? A new millennium that is. Now just watch me swing wide here and weave the most unbelievable themes into hitch-hiking. It's a special occasion after all, so we need a special hitch-hiker.
There's a kind of hitcher I've run into again and again over the last year. The Y2K hitcher. A special breed of person, latching not onto other peoples vehicles, but their ideas.
It's not unique to Y2K, heck it's universal, around us all day everyday. It just struck me a little more than usual with Y2K approaching, like a sore thumb that won't go away, throbbing at you everywhere you turn.
It works like this: One person has a cute idea, and a lot of other people hitch a ride on it.
Many of us carry special kind of love for knowing something the rest don't. That smug kind of one-up feeling. We hold up this little gem of a fact like a flag and wave it about, shouting "look at me, ain't I spiffy, bet you didn't know that!"
Now sometimes we have a cute idea ourselves, or an insight, and share it around proudly. But more often, of necessity, there are after all, only so many ideas to go around, we pinch someone else's. It matter's not that we're not the first person on the bandwagon, but at least we're in with the first of them.
Now there are two special ideas that kept hitting me in the face, like a wet fish, again and again this year. One is so big you've all seen it, so I'll leave it till last. The other brought a smile to my face.
It struck me once walking the streets of Geneva. There were suddenly stickers all over declaring (in French of course) "What are you all excited about? The third millennium doesn't start till January 1st 2001!" Then I saw it again in other towns, in other languages. And always I'd smile. True enough, not so many as to call them a slap in the face with a wet fish, that's the other idea (we'll get around to that).
You see what's happened here, is some cute cookie noticed that there is no year 0. It all starts with 1 A.D. So the first millennium (or thousand years) was the years 1 to 1000. The second millennium was the years 1001 to 2000, and the third of course 2001 to 3000. Get it? Cute idea no? Heck it's even got a grain of truth to it!
But the bottom line is: Who cares? Who gives a doodley squat? I'll tell you who cares most! The Y2K hitcher, waving that little flag: "I know something you don't, so nah, nah ...". The Y2K hitcher can sit at home while the rest of us party ... Seriously, how cute. Who does care? What really does define a millennium? A count to a 1000, or what a billion people believe? I could weigh in a good argument for the second case anyhow ... there's my little flag!
What I'm saying I guess is, some smart cookie, or a whole bunch of them probably, worked this out a long time ago and went about business as usual, party time all the same, but mentioned it here and there as one of those cute cocktail party curios, where the hitchers grabbed on to it, and actually went to all the trouble of printing stickers ... or, in other words, I don't think anyone smart enough to count to 1000 would have bothered - it must have been the hitchers. Unless of course it's all a double bluff and the laugh's on me, it was the smart cookie all along, knowing some silly editor would take up the case.
So what about the real Y2K hitcher? The big one? Need I introduce him? We've had quite a few here at Suite 101, a pile more have spammed me over the last year, and lurked on bulletin boards. They're the scare mongers, the people with all the tips on preparing your six month survival kit, pantry, water supply, wood fired electric generator, telling us not to have babies in January, or to hide under our purely mechanical beds when the clock ticks midnight. Whatever you do, don't drive, don't even mention flying, and if you can afford it build a fallout shelter now ...
Man have I run into a lot of these. "Y2K hitchers?" you ask? "Sure." I say. I put it to you that the vast majority of these people know as little as you or I about what Y2K glitches lurk in our computer systems. That most of them pick up on a few articles and projections here and there, latch onto them like gems of wisdom, and wave them around in that same old "I'm onto something here folks ... ain't I good" manner. Or let's just say, they haven't enough to keep them busy,
I mean absolutely no disservice to the genuinely informed and genuinely concerned. I know they're out there too, and heck, I may be lying in some pile of rubble this minute and they'd have ever right to point that "I told you so" finger at me and sneer that sneer of uncertain sympathy for the blind fool.
As right as they may be, as informed they may be, I put it to you that they are the minority. Most of the hoo ha, on-line in particular, propagated by the hitchers, The hangers on, the admirers, the conspiracy theorists, convinced the government through negligence or malice is going to do us all in with this monster glitch.
And to them I have said for almost a year, "I too am a hitcher. I ride the big wave."
If the "whole shithouse goes up in flames", to quote a Y60s idol, I ain't going to be alone. If my brothers can ride out the storm, we'll ride it out together. I have no room for a water supply, pantry, electric generator, or anything else in my life. I can spare nothing more than a little prudence on the off chance that my bank account will be erased, or my kettle not cut out when it boils, or my heart-lung machine cut out on me.
I'm a humble ordinary joe, who's gonna stand back and watch the sky for fireworks (which will no doubt arrive as expected). And if I go hungry, well it's me and a billion others, if I go thirsty, it's me and a billion others, if I have no reading light, it's me an a billion others ... I take the package deal I guess, along with all the rest of those people who had more important things to worry about.
Hitcher I am. Y2K hitcher not. You still there? The net still up? Do send me an email and check if I'm still alive and well, let me know that you are ... the Y2K hitchers may have been hitchers, but they may have been onto something all the same, I'll give them that! Finger's crossed, they were over-reacting.
We'll all look back and know. Well, most of us I hope. A happy Y2K to you ...