1999: The Fifth Day of Christmas III, Y2K is a joke

A year certainly made a major difference by this Christmas Break! The previous one was lonely but filled with a quiet optimism. My patience did pay off throughout 1999 and it was more of a Thanksgiving or point of Remembrance like New Year’s is for me:

  • Hired by Apple in April.
  • My dating of Somara became a more permanent arrangement, not married but we had exclusivity for lack of a better term. I don’t recall if she started throwing the marriage hint around by then. That’s a funnier story in its own right.
  • No more moving! I had a one-year lease on an apartment with Garrett until next Spring.
  • Broadband (cable modem) in the apartment for the first time.
  • Got the last of my belongings out of North Carolina in November.
  • My personal financial picture was improving yet I wasn’t close to paying anything major in full for another couple years.

For 1998 I did say The Phantom Menace was something I was excited about. I am relieved that I didn’t invest too much mental capital into it. P-U! To counter it, 1999 did have two movies I like and these continue to hold up after a decade: The Mummy and The Matrix, both of which should’ve stopped there and avoided sequels. The former was the best re-imagining (I prefer the term modernizations) attempts done. During the Nineties, Hollywood redid Dracula (yawn) with Gary Oldman, Frankenstein (ugh) with DeNiro and the Wolfman with Nicholson (double ugh). They only got it right with The Mummy by combining Action-movie elements a la Indiana Jones and enough Horror to prove the monster was dangerous, malevolent and ruthless.

I had to digress a bit with a movie because as 1999 wound down, I was leaving my part-time gig at Gateway 16 to a new part-time setup at Kenny’s Coffee Company. Being a barista would pay less but I spent a significant chunk of my spare time at the shop, why not get paid for drinking coffee! My last day was on Christmas, working the box office, selling tickets to some rather uninteresting fare, namely Man on the Moon since Toy Story 2 was long in the tooth (it was a Thanksgiving release). The managers at Gateway 16 expressed their gratitude several days earlier by giving me a goodbye present of a D&B gift card and movie passes. Gratitude? I was one of the few employees who did his job during his shift. Quite the contrast from the inept, clueless service worker I was 15 years ago at Farrell’s. Then again, I was 31. If I behaved like the teenagers who were the majority at Gateway 16, I should’ve had my head examined.

As for Christmas Break, I was stoked. Apple had moved to a new building the week before so there was the “new car” smell but the different phone system sucked and our new cubicles lacked privacy. Little did we anticipate how it would get worse in 2000, namely Apple selling the most Macs it had ever done since 1996. Worse? It is when you don’t enough people to answer the phones. This came later anyway. Before the phone-call deluge, Apple remained sweet. We only had to work half a day on Christmas Eve! Ethan, Garrett and I scored the 10 AM – 2 PM shift. We tried to have breakfast at Trudy’s North but they weren’t open so we had to settle on Taco Cabana. The day was slow and as expected, some Tier 1 tech tried to dump a call on me at 1:59 PM. I can’t remember how I managed to get out on time. I probably don’t want to, I have a feeling I did it by unfriendly means.

Jumping ahead to Christmas, I did an opening, final shift with Gateway and afterwards, I think Somara met me at my apartment where we then went to visit her parents’ house in Georgetown. I know I had been there before for birthday parties. It may have been my first encounter with her siblings, in-laws, nephews and niece. The meal was nice but Somara’s gift to me was the best! A new Jansport backpack. My current one was falling apart or looking ratty. What made Somara’s extra special was the modifications she made to it, Bugs Bunny was glued on to the outer pocket! Somara knew how much I like the character (he’s my totem) so she found a pair of socks, cut his head off of them and glued them permanently on. I was clinging to “dying” backpack due to the Bugs Bunny design, now I could give it up. Besides, the modification on the back, it had an inner pocket to store my PowerBook 5300c. I still have this backpack too, it’s very well made and it’s one of my trademarks at Apple; everybody knows it’s my backpack (or sac a dos).

Now to the elephant in the story…Y2K. What a joke! Actually, I was never worried about it. Not because of my profession using computers (Macs were compliant from day one and many older models will be until Unix Time runs out in 2038) but all the hysteria wasn’t founded in any solid facts. Think about it. What does the year have to do with the electricity running, the car starting or a nuclear weapon? Absolutely zilch. Maybe there could’ve been a glitch in billing yet nothing was going to turn off or spontaneously start. Apple didn’t take any chances, one little, trivial glitch caused by third-party software would be enough to give the SCLM a field day. Everybody at my level of skill (Tier 2) had to be on call for certain shifts in case it hit the fan. Having little interest, I was a third stringer.

Quick aside. Last night I had dinner with my friends Ethan and Kelly (the Lowrys of California, not the couple I catsit for) and we talked about the Y2K silliness. Ethan volunteered to work that fateful evening, there was extra pay or comp time for his effort. I asked him if it was as easy as it sounded. His response? There was one call and it was a guy trying to get support after hours for a piece of software. Otherwise, he and his co-workers drank beer. They probably watched DVDs on the souped up G4 towers and played numerous Quake/Unreal battles.

My only hope is that all those Chicken Littles continue to feel stupid.

Back to my New Year memory.

I recall having to work the whole day but when I was finished, I was off to Somara’s to ring in the year and decade (and century and millennium if you care for such a definition) watching TV, petting Wicca and taking it easy. Neither of us found a decent party or anything. Downtown Austin was going to be nuts for A2K. I would’ve enjoying seeing Lyle Lovett though. I do clearly remember calling Somara before leaving work to tell her I was on my way. She asked me to stop by the store for some club soda. Foolishly, I agreed. The one day of the year NOT to hit the grocery store, then would be it. The experience wasn’t too bad. I did get a huge laugh scouring the nearby Albertson’s (on Oltorf, South Austin). All the toilet paper and bottle water was gone. Water I could see in an emergency having experienced Hurricane Alicia (or was it Alisha?) yet toilet paper? If civilization is collapsing left and right around us, I think a change of underwear would be more prudent.

Needless to say, we both collapsed well before the magic moment at midnight. I woke up briefly at 12:45 AM, didn’t see any mushroom clouds and went back sleep.

Austin II was definitely panning out on numerous fronts!

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One Response to 1999: The Fifth Day of Christmas III, Y2K is a joke

  1. Somara says:

    Not only were there no hints about wanting to get married – but I hadn’t even said the “L” word yet. That wouldn’t come until March 2000. Marriage hints would take a few more years and weren’t really hints since he had to ask me for them before I’d say anything.