Smile of the Day

Life is getting much too serious, yes? Who doesn't need a daily smile?

Wednesday, January 4

A valuable skillset

After years of being taken for granted and treated as a technological dinosaur by all the client/server programmers and website developers, Jack, a COBOL programmer, was finally getting some respect after becoming a private consultant specialising in Y2K conversions.

Still, the relentless, mind-numbing work was starting to take its toll on Jack. He began having anxiety dreams about the year 2000. All he could think about was how he could avoid the year 2000 and all that came with it ... so he contacted a company that specialised in cryogenics. He would have himself frozen until March 15th, 2000: safely after the New Year celebrations and computer debacles; after the leap day; after it was all over. 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 sees is an enormous and very modern room filled with excited people, all shouting "I can't believe it!" and "It's a miracle" and "He's alive!" There are cameras (unlike any he has ever seen) and equipment that looks like it came out of a science fiction movie. Someone who is obviously a spokesperson of some kind finally steps forward, and Jack can't contain his enthusiasm: "Is it over? Is the year 2000 already here? Are all the millennial parties and promotions and crises all over and done with?"

The spokesman explains that there had been a problem with the programming of the timer on Jack's cryogenic receptacle. (It hadn't been year 2000 compliant.) Instead of just a few months later, it is actually eight thousand years later, and technology has advanced to such a degree that everyone has virtual reality interfaces which allow them to contact anyone else on the planet.

"That sounds terrific," says Jack. "But I am curious. Why is everybody so interested in me?"

"Well," says the spokesman, "the year 10,000 is just around the corner, and it says in your files that you know COBOL ..."


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