January 1st, 2000
Sitting in front of the television watching a rerun of an old M*A*S*H episode, the scene changes from Colonel Potter’s office to the CNN newsroom in Atlanta, Ga. Sitting behind the anchor desk is none other than Capt. “Hawkeye” Pierce dressed in Korean War-era army fatigues. Looking somber, Capt. Pierce reads from a paper he holds in his shaking hands. “This just in from the White House: President Clinton has just issued an alert to the citizens of the United States of America. The statement reads as follows:”
“My fellow Americans, we have just received confirmation from our NORAD facility at Cheyenne Mountain that early warning satellites have detected the heat signatures of no less than thirty-two missile launches, all originating within 300 miles of Moscow, Russia. I am presently in contact with the Russian military leaders who are telling us this is a major malfunction they are attributing to a total breakdown of their missile launch sequencing as they attempted to run routine simultaneous software checks at their launch facilities. The Russian military is attempting to send self-destruct codes to the missiles, but so far have been unsuccessful. When asked how many of the missiles are targeted at the United States, I was informed that they all are. As your Commander-in-Chief, I beseech each and every one of you to take what cover you can. If your home or building has a basement, go there now, if not, you must find shelter wherever you can. Do it NOW! Estimated time of first impact is twenty-seven minutes. May God have mercy on us all.”
Hawkeye Pierce looks into the camera and goes into his Groucho Marx impression using a pencil for a cigar.
“Well, that’s not good, not good at all. I’d like to stick around and keep you folks company but I’m gonna take the President’s advice and go find me a basement. I’ll turn this show over to my lovely but somewhat incompetent co-anchor, Martha.”
As Hawkeye waddles away from the anchor desk the camera pans right to find a red faced, somewhat insulted Martha Stewart standing behind her activities table. She collects herself and looks into the camera. “Mmm, that wasn’t very nice of him, now was it? I think he’s just a scared little man. I’ll deal with him later.
“Meanwhile, now that our worst fears of the Y2K bug have apparently proven true, and in recognition of the President’s announcement, I think we’ll explore the always fun topic of the ten most important things to have handy when facing nuclear annihilation. First and foremost on the list is, of course, a good vintage of red, or if you prefer, white wine. According to this handy little chart I’ve prepared, under the present scenario of less than 30 minutes till annihilation, a supply of 1 to 2 bottles should suffice. Next on our list is…”
I find myself sitting up in bed, my heart beating so fast I think it’s about to explode, my whole body cold and clammy. Lying next to me, startled awake by my sudden movement, my wife places her hand on my arm and asks if I’m okay.
“I’m fine. I had a bad dream, is all.”
But I’m not fine, I’m still scared. The dream seemed so real that I actually grab the remote control off the nightstand and turn on the television. I punch in 44 and watch as the CNN anchorperson reassures me that in regards to any anticipated Y2K problems, all is well with the world. Only a few minuscule Y2K related glitches have been detected, and none of those have anything to do with nuclear missile launch sites.
Confident now that it really was just a bad dream, I decide to get up and begin this first day of the year 2000.
In the bathroom I turn the handle to start my shower. But no water flows, at least not in the shower. Instead, the toilet unexpectedly flushes. What the heck? I go to the sink and turn on those faucets. No water but the overhead lights go out. Uh oh! I flip the light switch and water commences to gush forth from the shower head but it remains dark in the bathroom. What’s going on here, I wonder. I feel my way to the toilet and push down on the handle. Instead of flushing, the lights come back on but the shower quits. This is too bizarre! I notice my electric razor on the shelf above the sink and take it in my hand wonder what will happen if I turn it on. I flip the switch and instantly wish I hadn’t as cold water comes jetting out of the sink faucet and splashes all over me. I turn off the razor and the water stops. I decide to forego my morning shower and shave and leave Rod Serling’s bathroom.
Downstairs in the kitchen, I attempt to make a pot of coffee but have no more luck than I did trying to take a shower. For one, I can’t find the right combination to get water out of the faucet. The light switch turns on the dishwasher, the sink faucets turn off the lights, the Mr. Coffee button starts the microwave and the electric can opener turns on the garbage disposal.
That’s it, I’ve had it! My whole world has been turned upside down by Y2K glitches that no one warned me about. I can’t live like this!
Upstairs I hear water running in the shower. I run up the staircase calling my wife’s name. “Carol! Don’t! There’s something wrong!” I burst into the bathroom and find my wife, well, taking a shower. Taking a shower like it was the most normal thing to do. Startled by my intrusion, she asks what’s wrong. I try to explain to her what’s been happening in the house since I woke up but she’s not buying any of it. “Will you just get out of here and let me finish my shower.”
Befuddled, I turn to leave the bathroom. But to prove my point I flip the light switch, expecting the water to shut off. Instead, the lights go out and I get yelled at. “Peter! Turn those lights on and get out of here!” I do as I’m told.
I can’t explain what happened to me on that first day of the year 2000 or each subsequent day since, for that matter. Things just don’t work the way they’re supposed to for ‘ol Pete Miner anymore. The hardest part is getting someone to believe me because the weird stuff only happens when I’m alone. That’s right, as long as someone else is in the same room as me things work normally, but when I’m by myself there’s no telling what will happen when I push a button, flip a switch, turn a knob or pull a plug. Take now, for instance. I’m alone at my iMac and no matter what I type on the keyboard, nothing comes up on the screen. In order for me to digitally reproduce this story I had to write it out in longhand on 3×5 index cards and feed each card into the CD-ROM tray which when closed opened up a SimpleText document which somehow transcribed the index cards into what you see here. Sounds crazy, I know, but that’s the sort of stuff I’ve been having to deal with ever since the year 2000 came crashing down around my ears. No one else’s, just mine!
I do take comfort, however, in the fact that no matter what Y2K throws at me in the form of glitches, it is still better than waking up dead from nuclear annihilation.