Stocking H2O

“How could this Y2K be a problem in a country where we have Intel and Microsoft?” ~Al Gore

Sure, I had water stocked up. At last count there were 30 gallon-sized bottles edging out all other space on the kitchen floor. The apartment was small enough without the attention to detail that the possible looming emergency situation “required.” I argued that it wouldn’t be necessary, that, as the vice-president said, it wouldn’t be a problem, but I was one simple voice in the void.

What did I know anyway? What did anyone know?

I did know that I hadn’t worried about it at all from the moment the news outlets started talking about the horrendous possibilities.

“The Y2K problem is not caused by technical limitations. We simply forgot to think of the problem.” ~Hasso Plattner

That was the crux of the issue right there, at least as any ordinary citizen could understand it. These days it’s easy to say there are failsafes for all the failsafes, but back in the early days of computer technology it wasn’t even remotely the case. Scientists were lucky the systems were even working, they hadn’t considered how their coding could affect things all the way into the 21st Century.

Why would they? If technology had no limits, as they asserted, why would the clocks in the technology have limits?

So many people were afraid of the chaos that would descend in case the technology all shut down at once, as the clock shifted to 12:01 in a new millennium. Many were talking about possibly being without electricity for months, as if we would revert to a primitive state. Still others were out buying industrial size generators, spending their life savings stocking up on items they could never use in a million years, much less the several months they might be needed.

“We anticipate plenty of groceries on the shelf for Y2K and hereafter.” ~Brian Sansoni

We had canned goods in the apartment, stacked in the slim pantry closet (that’s why the water was on the kitchen floor, after all). There was no generator, but it wasn’t like we could afford one that would power anything for any length of time, so what was the point? We went to a prayer meeting where folks on their knees begged god to save us from Y2K, to save us from our technological hubris. I didn’t believe in it, but I hoped it worked anyway.

The grocery stores were barren wastelands when I stopped in on the 28th of December. From Kroger, to Bi-Lo, and everything in-between, there were not many canned goods or spring water to be had. It was even worse than when an inch of snow had been forecast for the Knoxville area. I shivered as I stood there hoping against hope that Y2K would be a blip on the radar screen, yet fearing the worst.

“Perhaps we are yet to feel the full impact of the Y2K bug but so far it’s been quiet.” ~Michael McGirr

On January 2nd, I was pouring bottle after bottle of water into the sink, into the tub, into whatever orifice was available for the job. I was wondering if Bi-Lo would accept 50 cans of baked beans for store credit. I was on my computer reading story after story of how the rest of the country was recovering from “the emergency.” I was thinking about those poor souls who had traveled to Times Square with no certainty that they would get out.

But mostly, I was pouring out water. Y2K indeed.

Sam

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