Real Life

Y2Krazy. Why would anyone intentionally fly on January 1, 2000? Read on.

We didn't get home until after 5 a.m. So we slept most of the day Saturday and then turned on the news. Everything seemed fine.

My flight wasn't until 4:30 p.m. I opted against the 8 a.m. flight because a) I'm not a morning person, b) I might be hung over, and c) I didn't want to die. I figured if I flew late in the day Continental would have either worked out the Y2K problems or canceled my flight. I was willing to take this experiment only so far.

At 3 p.m. LaGuardia was empty. It looked like the commuter terminal at the Tri-Cities, Tennessee, airport. I was the only person on the escalator when I went to check in. Almost all the counters were closed.

Jesus wanted to watch the ball drop in Times Square too.
Angela Blankenship
Jesus wanted to watch the ball drop in Times Square too.

As I handed over my driver's license, I asked the check-in attendant if there'd been any problems.

"Nah," the lady said. She looked like she was tired of being asked that question.

Were you worried? I persisted.

"Nah," she said. "I was more worried about yesterday. I thought once it turned twelve o'clock instead of the ball dropping, I would have heard a boom."

That was the common worry. Mike Warren, a 31-year-old aircraft mechanic from Tucson said he was more worried about dying in Times Square than on the plane. His earlier flight had been canceled. The airport said it wasn't a Y2K problem, but he thought "they" might be lying. "It could've been," he said.

Now, as the plane started boarding, he figured everything would be fine.

"If they started flying and the planes were all falling out of the sky, they wouldn't keep taking off," he said.

The flight was full. Not many people had bought tickets, so Continental had canceled and consolidated earlier flights.

I talked to airport security guards and people who search for bombs. But no one had any terrorist tales. I was getting worried -- not about Y2K, but about my story. No mayhem means no story line, or at least no interesting story line. I thought about checking my bag to make my article more interesting; after all, a computer glitch might send my suitcase to Africa. I decided against that.

"So do you think we're going to die a fiery death?" I cheerily asked the people next to me as I sat down.

University of Houston professor Ellen Stevens-Roseman said she was feeling really cynical about this whole Y2K hype. She didn't think we were going to die. I, however, was still a little bit worried. But I'm a worrier.

"It's our honeymoon," Ellen said, introducing me to Mark.

"Mazel Tov," I said. "It's my birthday."

The newlyweds hadn't planned to fly back New Year's Day; they had planned to take a train to Cape Cod to lie around, and fall further in love.

"That was going to be the romantic part," Ellen said. "He copped out."

Mark had the flu.

I took out my knitting and talked to the people around me. Then I wrote an 11-page letter to my old editor in Norfolk, Virginia, telling him I was waiting to crash.

Then we did. At least it felt like it.

We hit the ground, then we hit the ground again, and then the plane dipped to the left and to the right. Ellen admitted that Y2K worries rushed through her head.

But everything was okay. I waited around and talked to the pilot, Pete Kirchner.

"I had no Y2K worries," he said.

Why not?

"I flew yesterday," he said.

Did you worry yesterday?

"No," he said. "I never worried about it at all. We had 19 hours of warning from New Zealand, and our stuff's been checked 19 trillion times."

His mother worried, though. She told him he was crazy to fly on New Year's Day. She heard the planes were going to fall out of the sky, and she wanted him to stay home.

Sounds like she talked to my mom.

E-mail Wendy Grossman at wendy.grossman@houstonpress.com.

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