It’s January 2000 and, boy, do we feel stupid. We who whined about the year 2000. Who predicted fire and brimstone. And gloom and doom. And that the Washington Redskins would go 14-2.
Go ahead, all you naysayers, have a good laugh. All of you folks who listened to us as we implored you to spend a million or 40 renovating/replacing/remediating/regluing all this year 2000 stuff ... and then nothing happened.
Because here we are, a week or two into 2000, and all is the same. Sure, we had a glitch here and there. A broken elevator. Traffic signals on the blink. A handful of lost luggage. But we’d lost luggage aplenty before, and we’ll lose some again. (Come to think of it, I’m still missing a green hooded sweatshirt from 1994. If anybody has seen it, let me know.)
So you folks go ahead and get on with your lives; get on with the work you postponed in ’99 because of all your overblown millenniprojects. But me, I have to spend the rest of this month eating crow. Groveling. Removing the egg from my face.
To be fair, it did look ugly for a while. So many companies were behind. Heck, so many countries didn’t have a clue. CIOs were convinced that the thing was a hoax and that 25 million lines of RPG code could be regression-tested in a weekend. I was sure a crash-and-burn was imminent.
That’s why I bet my career, my fortune -- the whole enchilada -- that you’d be reading this by candlelight. I gave up a great job making thirty-eight five. I jettisoned the Dow at 6,500. Now it’s poised to hit 15,000, and all I’ve got left is a few hundred shares of year 2000-related stocks, which, all told, couldn’t buy one item at the local everything’s-a-buck store.
I was sure the Department of Defense would screw up. I was sure Los Angeles would screw up. I was sure the FAA would screw up. But the only date-related failure was a microwave on a flight to Fresno that overzapped portabella ravioli and turned them into little pasta pellets.
I was wrong. So sue me.
Whoa, whoa -- don’t get too literal on me there! Although I have to admit it’s a safe bet somebody will sue somebody, this being America and all. The thousands of year 2000 lawyers who now have no plaintiffs, no litigation and no megabucks lawsuits surely will go after some poor schlub; it would be too hard for them to get back into ambulance-chasing shape after spending three years blathering to one another at conferences.
But don’t waste your time with me. I stuck most of my holdings in Gold American Eagles back in ’98, and now they’re probably selling for less than $US200 an ounce. If not a pound.
All is not lost. Catastrophe may still be out there, somewhere. I could still hold out for Leap Day. Or 10/10/2000, which is either the first true eight-digit date of the millennium or a cheap way to dial long distance.
But what’s the use? We’ve got this thing licked. We survived. World 1, Millennichondriacs 0. Face it: Big projects are a piece of cake. Year 2000 was a cinch. The euro? Just a blip on the screen. And I hear they’re getting ready to widen the Chunnel.
NO DISASTER, NO RICHES
All of which now kind of puts a damper on the remaining bleak scenarios such as running out of phone numbers in 2025, running out of Social Security numbers in 2040 or running out of Social Security itself any day now. We Chicken Littles must now take our sorry keisters down to the unemployment office and see if anyone will have us. As coders. As project managers. As french friers.
But I’m not bitter. Honest. Had I been right, my bank balance would today be a negative number. I wouldn’t be able to start my car. My power would be off. There would be looting, rioting and no presents under the tree. But instead, it’s back to the store for me. To return my camping stove. And the 85 containers of propane. And the 40 cases of generic tuna, which is not even the solid white kind but rather the dark, oily stuff with lots of little gray pieces of whale. Or seaweed. Or whatever.
The next millennium beckons. Full of promise. Full of wonder. Off we go. For those who endured my centurial sermons in 1997, 1998 and 1999, thanks for listening. I was wrong. It’s better this way. I didn’t get to say, “I told you so.” I didn’t make a million in code conversion. I didn’t sock away a fortune on some patent to cram four digits into two by turning them sideways. I can return to life as I once knew it and get back to all the boring stuff that wasn’t deemed mission-critical -- the piles of documentation and junk mail that have been gathering dust since, oh, late ’97 or so.
The hype is over. Year 2000 came and went. And with it went my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a bundle. Alas, maybe something else will come along. But in the meantime, if anyone wants to buy a Year 2000 Countdown Clock, please let me know.
(Cohn was a year 2000 consultant and now would be happy if his headhunter would just return his calls.)