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Helijet Trip

weather: light rain
outside: 17.9°C
mood: ...
December 31, 1999. The eve of Y2K. The whole technology world was in a huge tizzy about what would happen once the clock struck midnight.

I was regular technical staff for a software vendor who, back then, pretty much had a monopoly on the market for that particular niche. I don't think they do anymore and I wouldn't have expected as much from a company whose own customers dubbed them "the best of a bad lot". Nevertheless, the product was a mission-critical system. I was assigned to do software support for the graveyard shift from 8pm to about 3am along with the entire Implementation Engineering team. If any of our clients had problems, the people who would be able to do anything about it, were there.

That's right. This was THE New Year's Celebration Of THE MILLENIUM... and I was at work.

It was a political thing, one that was meant to just soothe the clients... the likes of Reliant Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric, Florida Power & Light, Meralco (in the Philippines), Belgacom Belgique and many major telco and utility companies in the US and around the world. =\

Y2K was the most anticlimactic New Year's I had ever experienced. NOTHING HAPPENED. The system did not go down ... which was the most shocking thing because our system was always breaking, all the live long day, any other time throughout the year. But on this fateful night, it held together quite well. I actually think all our customers just shut everything down and went to the pen & paper system for the night.

We were chatting, playing Doom, Quake or some other network game and pigged out on the catered food. I think they even ordered us champagne. It was a gigantic LAN party. The only phone call we received was from one customer to wish us a Happy New Year. =}

Our compensation package for the pain and suffering was an all-expense paid weekend Helijet getaway for two to Vancouver Island, including airfare ($200 roundtrip per person), swanky hotel accommodations in Victoria, travel, meals, etc. The userinfoHusband Guy and I took off one weekend around Valentine's 2000.

Usually, if we want to go over to Vancouver Island from Vancouver, we'd take the ferry. The ferry is much cheaper, takes 1½ hours (from pier to pier) and has humongous lineups on weekends and when everyone is travelling. So, you're really looking at about 3 hours to actually reach your destination on the Island, at least.

The Helijet takes half an hour. There are only nine passengers per flight. It's a sweet, sweet ride. All in all, very amazing to zip along the water, through the beautiful coast.

"Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Teng" they greeted us, unprompted, at the hotel front desk. That was the first time we were "Mr. and Mrs." I'll never forget that they automatically went by my maiden name. XD They also asked if we were newlyweds. By that time, we'd been together for over 8 years and notyetweds.

Ha! People will still ask if we're newlyweds from time to time now. =)


Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
ducks
Jun. 2nd, 2006 03:38 am (UTC)
I'll never forget that they automatically went by my maiden name.

Did you take Husband Guy's name?

PB and I get called all the time by "Mr. and Mrs. My Maiden Name" because I tend to do all the bookings. It annoys him a bit and he jokes that he should take my name.
bride
Jun. 2nd, 2006 06:49 am (UTC)
Did you take Husband Guy's name?

Nope. Chinese women don't take the husband's surname. =)
ducks
Jun. 2nd, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC)
Really? All the female relatives on my side (including my Mom) and on PB's side (including his mom) took on their husband's surname. In Chinese, they added the surname on top of their maiden name, and in English, they dropped their maiden name all together.
bride
Jun. 2nd, 2006 04:03 pm (UTC)
Don't forget that Hong Kong was a British territory for the longest time and a lot of the practices came from that era. Some people in Hong Kong don't consider themselves Chinese even.

My impression is, before the early 1900s, a lot of Chinese women didn't even _have_ names in their childhood. Girls were just "the first girl", "the second girl", etc. because their parents couldn't be bothered; they were going to be "raised for someone else" anyway. It wasn't until they were married that they really needed a name... and even then, sometimes they didn't.

It might also regional too. In some places, girls born around the 1950s weren't named either. But in some places, I think, all girls had always had names.

But I'm pretty sure that at least after the Communists came into power, women kept their own names after marriage and still do. It's usually only when they have to have some paperwork done (say, for emmigration) that they use their husband's surname with their Anglo name.
ducks
Jun. 2nd, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC)
Ah, this makes a lot of sense, thanks!
da_rosas
Jun. 2nd, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
Whew, good explanation. My mother was HK born and raised and she took on my father's name (we all have our father's name) for the most part. She sometimes went by the maiden name, but I always was confused why/how. In English, she definitely went with my father's name, but in Chinese, infrequently she'd use the maiden name.

Thanks again for these tidbits!
characterguy
Jun. 2nd, 2006 02:54 pm (UTC)
Cool story! I remember laughing as I watched TV and, as you say, nothing happened at midnight, 12:30AM, 1AM...
bride
Jun. 2nd, 2006 04:06 pm (UTC)
Ha =) Anyone who understood anything about software knew it wasn't a big deal. But everyone else was treating it like the apocalypse, stocking up on water, canned food, power generators, etc. XD
da_rosas
Jun. 2nd, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC)
Heh: I remember the Y2K paranoia, a.k.a. TEOTWAWKI LOL! Even if I didn't want to believe it, I took out extra cash in the days before it just in case. It was fun watching the 24-hour millennium countdown on NBC (or whatever) and watching absolutely nothing happening beyond the expected, heh. Not even serious fears of terrorism, back in the blissfully optimistic pre-9/11 days *sighs*.
da_rosas
Jun. 2nd, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC)
BTW, a sort of tangent: do you have any thoughts of relatively needed and very employable (marketable) job training skills for me? I've been trying to figure out a 12-18 month plan (or less, but it seems many things require more than less time) of retraining myself for some sort of 'career.' I've also been considering skills that would make me more employable not just in the U.S., but in Canada, though both countries are having all types of employment and economic woes.

Seriously would love any thoughts for trying to jumpstart my life/job options. If you are willing/able to email, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

(BTW, I met you originally through guangdong but I haven't been very active online as much. I've been taking some Cantonese lessons and discussions from some resources though. Still definitely not proficient.)
bride
Jun. 2nd, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
I would love to help, but I don't feel like I know enough about you to really give good advice... Sorry =P
science_vixen
Jun. 3rd, 2006 12:05 am (UTC)
Man, were you screwed over, I had to work that weekend as well, and was paid a full month's wages for it. ^_^

Nothing happened and the 6 of us who were there played risk all weekend.
bride
Jun. 3rd, 2006 02:39 am (UTC)
Doesn't surprise me. This is not a company that's known for treating its employees right and in a way that makes sense. But it doesn't matter, I learned a lot from the one year on that job.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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