DEAR ABBY: I am the computer operations manager for a large company. As the year 2000 draws closer, people are becoming more concerned about the Y2K bug. The following is my response. If you think your readers would find it interesting and/or helpful, please feel free to print it. -- CARL SCHUTTE, CHULA VISTA, CALIF.
DEAR CARL: While I'm confident the computer geniuses will exterminate the Y2K bug, I frequently hear on the news about people going to great lengths to prepare for it, so I'm sure many readers will be interested in your commonsense commentary. Read on:
Y2K HYPE REPORT
A number of people have been asking me about how Y2K will affect them. First, I got out my crystal ball. Then I cobbled together some thoughts on the subject:
99.693 percent of the Y2K HYPE is to get you, the consumer, to buy, buy, buy! (If you spend enough money, you will be OK, etc.)
I'm sure everyone has seen or heard ads telling us to buy bottled water, long-term storable food (enough to last six months at the least), water filters, wind-up radios, flashlights that use LEDs rather than bulbs, guns and ammunition (go NRA!), computer software that will "fix" any Y2K bugs on their computers (as if it would be the end of civilization if the computer fails), and anything else some nutcase can think up. Then, once all of us have mortgaged our homes to buy all this junk, we are urged to take the rest of our money, stocks, bonds and anything else of value we might have and buy (there's that word again!) gold because that will be the only currency accepted on Jan. 1, 2000.
Most of these people are the same ones who claim that when you use your ATM or "rewards" card at the supermarket, the CIA/FBI is tracking your buying habits to produce a "profile" on you.
So much for fantasy. Now for a little reality:
Vital utilities or government agencies have been preparing for Y2K for some time now. Could your power go out? Yes. Will it be out for more than an hour or two. Probably not. (Has your power ever been out before? Didn't you live through the outage?)
Will you receive a bill from VISA for $43,554,238,490.32? Probably not. If you do, don't pay it. Call the bank.
Will the bank lose all your checking and savings balances? Probably not. If they do, you have records, they have records, and it will get fixed.
Remember that most of the services affecting you are someone else's livelihood! These companies aren't going to vanish. Any major problems will get fixed FAST. Minor problems will get fixed a little later -– that's why they are called minor problems.
If you will stay calm, don't panic, use your head and don't do something stupid, everyone will get through Y2K JUST FINE.