Long before the copious discussions about the turn of the century (and millennium), as a young girl I remember wondering what the world was going to be like in the year 2000. I knew how old I was going to be - and that was about the only definite thing that happened as it turned out from my predictions (no, we're not living on the moon yet, for example)! I thought about the big change going from 1999 to 2000…kind of like watching all the nines on an old odometer bending down all tired and flipping over to zeroes.
So what did you do the night all those nines turned to zeroes and the '1' became a '2'? I’d always had dreams of being at Stonehenge or the Pyramids or maybe on a beach in Tahiti.
But rather than hanging out on exotic beaches or at historical landmarks, I spent the night of Friday December 31, 1999 at work, sipping sparkling cider and munching on lasagna from Olive Garden. I was in the Helpdesk/Call Center industry at that time, working as a vendor on the campus of a major software company. There was simply no doubt: that night – and all the preparations leading up to it – was going to be All Hands on Deck. Time off would have to wait.
Our department Director had ordered in food for our whole crew working that night. We had beefed up staff because, well, we had to be prepared for just about anything that might happen, in every time zone we supported (which happened to be just about every single one).
Remember all the Y2K paranoia? We were worried computers were going to crash, power was going to go out, food would get automatically dumped from inventory – people were even hoarding canned food in some extreme cases. Generators flew off store shelves and some people filled up their gas tanks as if they were expecting a hurricane, not a New Year. We heard reports of relief that Y2K would fall on a Saturday - an offpeak time for most business - so the REAL test would be Monday January 3rd. On and on and on.
It might be tempting to laugh about it now but I don't think it's worth a lot of finger pointing. We simply didn't know what was going to happen - or not happen. None of us had ever been through this before, and none of us would be alive the next time around. We were becoming more and more technologically savvy as a global community...and more and more dependent on it too. At the same time we were also learning about the pitfalls and ugly sides of technology, such as computer network virus outbreaks. My team dealt with virus scares, outages and cleanups about every 2 or 3 months it seemed. We were still learning how to protect our networks and respond to reports and threats. What would happen the night of Y2K? We simply weren't sure.
We DID know we were all in it together. And that's probably about it.
I spent part of that unglamorous night at work with my Director in her Jeep picking up forty (yes, forty) lasagnas and delivering them to our teams. We had a glass of wine in the restaurant bar while waiting for the food to be packaged up, reflected back on the year and had a few laughs. We agreed that whatever happened we would get through it together! I'll drink to that!
The lasagnas were each packed in disposable foil baking pans sealed with a layer of foil on top, stacked 3 or 4 high in paper grocery bags. We made sure to drive back to the campus very, very carefully. But when we arrived at the first building we opened the Jeep tailgate and suddenly - SPLAT - a few bags plopped right into the tailgate hinge, creating a huge, reddish-orange steamy blob.
That was a moment where it really helps to have a sense of humor. Thankfully we both did and burst into huge belly laughs! What more could we do? Some of the bags had ripped along with some of the sealed tin foil, so we lost a few trays of food deep into that tailgate hinge. I'm sure her Jeep smelled of lasagna for days! Luckily we had plenty of food to go around despite the casualties.
A few hours later our teams both cheered and breathed a collective sigh of relief when the clock struck midnight. The building was still standing. The power stayed on. No one started rioting in the streets. We didn't have a massive network virus attack. The only glitch we had was a brief phone outage due to outrageously high call volumes for a few minutes! WE MADE IT!
That was my magical turn of the millennium moment. It doesn't seem like nearly ten years ago, but maybe time just appears to go by faster the older we become.
A lot can happen in ten years: I became an Aunt 3 times over. I bought a townhouse for the first time. Worked four different jobs, and had a handful of relationships - some serious, some not. I got rid of "friends" who were toxic and welcomed in new ones. My family said goodbye to two grandparents. My parents became grandparents, retired and survived health scares with flying colors within months of one another. I traveled to ten different countries between 2000 and 2001. Our country experienced its worst act of terrorism ever. Seven years later we elected an African American as our President.
There is just so much to reflect back upon; as we get closer to the end of the year I'm sure there will be numerous retrospectives in the media and perhaps in our own thoughts too. Along with celebrating, I get a little sentimental every New Years Eve.
And I think it's OK to start now.