Some people want bad things to happen. It’s a quirk peculiar to smart and not so bright people alike and probably has some unclear purpose in the human genome. On the evening of December 31st, 1999, I was assigned to help police the crowds gathering at Times Square to welcome the New Year. A few hours separated the relative calm I was experiencing and the Y2K nightmare certain pundits claimed would occur when the clock struck midnight.
A middle age man wearing a shirt that read HUMPTY DUMPTY WAS PUSHED asked me if the NYPD was prepared for the chaos that would ensue when all computers shut down.
“Let’s hope for the best,” I replied.
He told me that he was a professor of computer sciences and mathematics at a local university. “This is no joke, captain,” he said. “Planes could fall from the sky.”
I recalled reading doomsday scenarios about planes falling from the sky, trains crashing, and bank accounts disappearing because computers could not abbreviate a four-digit year to two digits. The Year 2000 problem would usher in Armageddon and I was standing among 1 million people. I told the professor that I knew very little about computers but would keep my eyes focused on the sky.
A young college student defended the professor. “He’s the chair of the computer science department and you should listen to what he has to say,” she said. “My husband has been studying this problem for a really long time.”
I did not want to argue with the professor or his child bride. I believe he needed a plane to fall from the sky to validate some professional journal articles he had probably written.
And now I sit looking outside my window watching birds eat sunflower seeds. The president spoke to our nation’s children and life continues to ebb and flow more with the weather than the ramblings of political commentators. I suspect that few, if any, children have been converted to “radical socialism” and nothing bad has happened after the president advised students to stay in school and work hard.
Humpty Dumpty may have been pushed, but he was too thin skinned and clumsy to be sitting on top of a wall looking upon others.
The opinions expressed in Road Diaries: 2009 Teacher of the Year are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.