There was once a COBOL programmer in the mid to late 1990s. For the sake
of this story, we'll call him Karl. After years of being taken for
granted and treated as a technological dinosaur by all the UNIX
programmers and Client/Server programmers and website developers, Karl
was finally getting some respect. He'd become a private consultant
specializing in Year 2000 conversions. He was working short-term
assignments for prestige companies, traveling all over the world on
different assignments. He was working 70 and 80 and even 90 hour weeks,
but it was worth it.

Several years of this relentless, mind-numbing work had taken its toll on
Karl.  He had problems sleeping and began having anxiety dreams about the
Year 2000.  It had reached a point where even the thought of the year
2000 made him nearly violent. He must have suffered some sort of
breakdown, because all he could think about was how he could avoid the
year 2000 and all that came with it.

Karl decided to contact a company that specialized in cryogenics. He made
a deal to have himself frozen until March 15th, 2000. This was a very
expensive process and totally automated. He was thrilled. The next thing
he would know is he'd wake up in the year 2000; after the New Year
celebrations and computer debacles; after the leap day. 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 Karl saw was an enormous and very modern room filled
with excited people. They were all shouting "I can't believe it!" and
"It's a miracle" and "He's alive!". There were cameras (unlike any he'd
ever seen) and equipment that looked like it came out of a science
fiction movie.

Someone who was obviously a spokesperson for the group stepped forward.
Karl couldn't contain his enthusiasm. "Is it over?" he asked. "Is 2000
already here? Are all the millennial parties and promotions and crises
all over and done with?"

The spokesman explained that there had been a problem with the
programming of the timer on Karl's cryogenic receptacle, it hadn't been
year 2000 compliant.

It was not the year 2000. Actually, it was 8 thousand years later.  But
the spokesman told Karl that he shouldn't get excited; someone important
wanted to speak to him.

Suddenly a wall-sized projection screen displayed the image of a man that
looked very much like Bill Gates. This man was Prime Minister of Earth.
He told Karl not to be upset. That this was a wonderful time to be alive.

That there was world peace and no more starvation. That the space program
had been reinstated and there were colonies on the moon and on Mars. That
technology had advanced to such a degree that everyone had virtual
reality interfaces which allowed them to contact anyone else on the
planet, or to watch any entertainment, or to hear any music recorded

"That sounds terrific," said Karl. "But I'm curious. Why is everybody so
interested in me?"

"Well," said the Prime Minister. "The year 10000 is just around the
corner, and it says in your files that you know COBOL."