Southern Thing Column

We survived a New Year’s apocalypse and a year from hell so let’s welcome 2021 with hope: Guest blog

Below is a guest blog by my Sweetums, who had a former career as a law officer. Happy New Year to all of you and thanks for following along. — Kelly Kazek

By Wil Elrick

It was 11:55 p.m. on December 31 and the apocalypse was going to happen in five minutes. I was a police officer in a large city and our department had cancelled any days off. Our shifts for that day were changed – we either worked 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. It’s the only day I can remember where everyone worked. In my district no one called in sick and even the biggest of bosses was there. We were as prepared as possible. Y2K, as it was popularly and widely known, was upon us. It was 1999 and as I type that this, it’s hard for me to believe that was 21 years ago.

The world was flipping out over the looming change of millennia and talk of the end of times was fierce. People were buying supplies as fast as they could hit the shelves. Humans literally thought the computers that powered everything were going to simply stop because of the way dates had been programed into the computers. Experts predicted that when dates which for years been programmed as two digits for the year (example ’99 rather than 1999) would not be able to roll to 00 to represent 2000 and all computers and electronics would simply stop.

Some people fully believed that mass chaos would ensue. Planes would fall out of the sky, our power grids would black out, our back-up generators to keep us running in the event of a black out would be useless, dogs and cats would start living together and madness would descend upon the world. As police officers, we were prepared for the worst, which I jokingly thought was going to be roving hordes of people attacking each other in the dark while avoiding planes falling all around them.

Obviously, it didn’t happen. It passed very quietly and was the quietest New Year’s Eves I can remember in my law enforcement career.

I revisit 1999 and Y2K because it has weird similarities to our current year only in reverse. In 1999 the world watched and worried for a year about what the worst was going to be at the turn of the New Year. In 2020, we lived through it instead of wondering what it would be and now approach the New Year with cautious optimism.

I know that 2020 has been a tough year for every single person reading this and actually every single person on the planet. But just like Y2K this too shall pass.

Happy New Year from Kelly and Sweetums’ little farm.

P.S. To end 2020, I am going to do something I’ve thought of doing since I was a child, stand on Lookout Mountain and sing:

And someday when I make it, when love finds a way
somewhere high on Lookout Mountain I’ll just smile with pride and say

That my home’s in Alabama

Noccalula Falls atop Lookout Mountain in Gadsden, Christmas at the Falls 2020 (Photo by Wil Elrick)

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