Jack was once a COBOL programmer in the late 1990’s who (after
years of being taken for granted and treated as a technological
dinosaur by all the UNIX programmers and Client/Server programmers and
website developers, etc.) was finally getting some respect. You see,
he’d become a private consultant specializing in Year 2000
conversions. He was working short-term assignments for prestige
companies, traveling all over the world on different assignments. He
was working 70 and 80 and even 90 hour weeks, but it was worth it.
However, several years of this relentless, mind-numbing work had
taken its toll on Jack. He had problems sleeping and began having
anxiety dreams about the Year 2000. It had reached a point where even
the thought of the year 2000 made him nearly violent. He must have
suffered some sort of breakdown, because all he could think about was
how he could avoid the year 2000 and all that came with it.
By the end of 1997 Jack decided to contact a company that
specialized in cryogenics. He made a deal to have himself frozen
until 2001 through their totally automated (and very expensive)
process. He was thrilled. The next thing he would know is he’d wake
up in the year 2001; after the New Year celebrations and computer
debacles; after the leap year, and the dust had settled. Nothing else
to worry about except getting on with his life.
He was put into his cryogenic receptacle, the technicians set the
revive date, he was given injections to slow his heartbeat to a bare
minimum, and that was that.
The next thing that Jack saw was an enormous and very modern room
filled with excited people. They were all shouting “I can’t believe
it!” and “It’s a miracle” and “He’s alive!”. There were cameras
(unlike any he’d ever seen) and equipment that looked like it came out
of a science fiction movie.
Someone who was obviously a spokesperson for the group stepped
forward. Jack couldn’t contain his enthusiasm. “It is over?” he
asked. “Is 2001 already here? Are all the millennial parties and
promotions and crises all over and done with?”
The spokesman explained that there had been a problem with the
programming of the timer on Jack’s cryogenic receptacle, it hadn’t
been year 2000 compliant. It was actually 8,000 years later, not the
year 2001. But the spokesman told Jack that he shouldn’t get excited;
someone important wanted to speak to him.
Suddenly a wall-sized projection screen displayed the image of a
man that had a striking resemblance to Bill Gates. This man was Prime
Minister of Earth. He told Jack not to be upset. That this was a
wonderful time to be alive. That there was world peace and no more
starvation. That the space program had been reinstated and there were
colonies on the moon and on Mars. That technology had advanced to
such a degree that everyone had virtual reality interfaces which
allowed them to contact anyone else on the planet, or to watch any
entertainment, or to hear any music recorded anywhere.
“That sounds terrific,” said Jack. “But I’m curious. Why is
everybody so interested in me?”
“Well,” said the Prime Minister. “The year 10000 is just around
the corner, and it says in your files that you know COBOL…”