On This Day Pre-Y2K

Confused by any of the jargon you see below? Check the Y2K Glossary!

January 10, 1999 Permalink

I told my parents about Y2k around last August. They looked like they were hearkening back to my being 15 or something (I’m 33) and perhaps wanted to pat me on the head and tell me I’d get over it. I told them again, in some detail, via email early last November. They had no response whatever. I talked to them about it on the phone in early December. They said, well, maybe there’ll be a couple “glitches” from this “bug” but all this doomsday stuff is just the rational-non-religious-computer version of the religious apocalyptic fears about century ends. (While I agree that could exist, I think ignoring what seem to be facts in favor of this theory explaining it is pretty irrational.)

So I had to think about it. Can I afford to stock up massive stuff for them too, and then drive to NE OK from Ncentral TX to give it to them? Not really. I decided that their decisions are their own, and I can’t live their lives, BUT, if I loved them I would do whatever I could to help ensure their safety.

This included lying about how I felt when they came for Christmas.

They’re not computer savvy outside writing email, but we are. Sitting back like the nonchalant experts on all things, as the subject was brought up by my husband (who thank god.* gets it), I smiled with a bit of mocking, “Well it’s not like it’s the END OF THE WORLD as some people suggest.” (I rolled my eyes for effect about all those paranoids.) They laughed and agreed.

“But,” I said, sitting forward and seeming serious now, “It’s pretty clear that there might be SOME problems -- Oh, not forever of course,” I said, watching them for signs of their pulling away or disbelief, “But you know, this is going to happen in the middle of winter, and there could be storms that could make things much worse of course. Heck, quite a few places in the US and Canada have been out of power for 2-4 weeks in the last few years, in Winter. Making sure you’ve got the food and heat and water stuff to be “camping” in your house for some time -- maybe even a few months worst case, if you add Y2K to the weather situation -- would be a wise idea. I mean with El Nino and La Nina, you just never know. I’d sure hate to have nothing prepared if something like that hit. I mean maybe you guys are okay but what about grandma down the street? She could need help too.”

Once I established I wasn’t a crazy doomsdayer, and once I caveated the problem by ensuring them it wasn’t permanent, and that it was just for a few months, and that it was as much for others they feel protective of as for themselves -- that much, they were able to handle.

My father assured me he has enough camping gear and propane to last twice that much time. I asked about food and water. “We’d have to store that,” says mom, “but we could stick it in the tornado shelter.” “What a great idea!” I said, like she’s the first human to think of it and ought to get a medal.

“Hey,” I said, “even a bad storm or tornado could be hard you know -- having a bunch of canned food stored should probably be done just to be safe, anyway.” They nodded thoughtfully. “You guys work on getting canned stuff and water,” I said. “And if a storm hits you’ll be the most prepared in your neighborhood.”

And I think they got THAT. They didn’t get Y2K. But they got something that is at least a part of it, enough that they I think will (or can be nagged to) do enough prep to at least be okay for 2-3 months.

It’s the best I can do. If I can get them that far, then MAYBE the idea of Y2K won’t be “too big” for them to absorb anymore. I think for many people, the scenario suggested is just so huge, so different from the reality they know, so scary, they don’t know where to start and are afraid to try. But if you can get them to prepare for “some” problems and potential weather issues, then maybe they’ll be less terrified about Y2K’s deadline once they know they’ve got at least a couple months of safety net, and perhaps if they’re a little more comfortable they’ll be a little more able to later accept a slightly larger or longer scenario.

—PJ Gaenir, Time Bomb 2000 Forum (LUSENET), 01/10/99

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