It seems impossible, but it was ten years ago tonight that the news business lost its collective mind.
(Update: For an opposing view go this blog)
Fueled by months of hype and ridiculous predictions, broadcast and print media tried to outdo each other with angles on the Y2K scare that in today's light seem cartoonish.
The Flint Journal was no exception. I bowed out. I'm not one for hype and I prefer to work the holidays alone. So I was not one of those who volunteered to man the newsroom to watch the end-of-the-world-as-we-knew-it story unfold.
The metro editor was not happy that I was skeptical of all his efforts to find more and more angles to this story. It seemed to me, rightly so as it turned out, that nothing was going to happen. That somehow the worst thing that might occur is that a clock or two might suddenly reset to 1900, but I was not among those who believed the power grid would fail, that the lights would go out in Georgia and everywhere else and that we would be plunged into World War III.
So while my wife and I enjoyed a night dining and dancing at the local American Legion Hall, many of my colleagues were gladly taking triple time pay to cover the end of the world.
One reporter was assigned to stay with a Lapeer County survivalist family in their underground, well-stocked bunker. The couple predicted they would be overrun by unprepared neighbors, but were ready to meet the assault with firearms and sturdy locks.
How silly it must have felt for them to crawl out the next morning with their neighbors snug in bed.
But there were reporters at City Hall, at the police department, and stationed throughout the county waiting for the predicted disaster that never came. What no one ever was willing to answer was the question of where the newspaper would be printed if the disaster the editors so anticipated actually happened.
My wife and I left the smokey Legion Hall early and watched Peter Jennings on ABC welcome in the new year from around the world, each hour on the hour. The reporters were almost disappointed to report that no problems, power outages, or riots had occurred anywhere.
When the clock rolled around to midnight here in the Eastern time zone, the lights stayed on, the computers and clocks still worked and Y2K fizzled like a wet firecracker.
I lifted a non-alcoholic beverage to my wife and toasted my good sense in staying home that night.