Stranded in L.A.

August 13, 2007, 2:16 PM UTC

I was not there. I read about it. And it sent the willies up my spine. I hate the willies, especially over the weekend. But this one did the trick.

Nearly 20,000 people. A computer glitch. Some glitch. A glitch is when my game of Halo freezes in mid-frag. This was not a glitch. This was a meltdown. Several people had to be taken to the hospital. Scores more languished in the airport, suffering from hunger and dehydration. Babies cried for formula. On the tarmac, planes from all over the world waited, waited, some as long as seven hours before permitting their passengers to get out of their tiny tubes and head down the gangway. Food ran out. Water, too, after a while.

In the airport parking lot at 3:00 AM, gridlock. Not a traffic jam. Not a frustrating slowdown. Total immobility. Time standing still at the horizon between night and day. A few weeks ago, I was in one of those, in Oakland. We sat, emitting an occasional honk out of sheer desperation. Finally, we mounted a curb, drove across an oncoming lane, and escaped into the night. I guess when society fails to provide rationality and order, and our level of outrage gets urgent enough, folks eventually feel entitled to, you know, do what’s necessary.

All around us, it seems, the infrastructure we have come to depend on is crumbling. And we read about these things, and know in our hearts NOT that it might happen to us sometime soon, but that it most certainly WILL.

Were you there, when the computers coughed and 20,000 people were held in limbo? Or did something like this just happen to you in a place that doesn’t matter to the media quite so much? Do you have some thoughts on why these things keep coming down? Why a computer system of such manifest importance is insufficiently backed up? Bridges falling… debt markets exploding… tornadoes in Brooklyn? What next? Any ideas?

Oh by the way, happy Monday to ya. Looks like a nice day outside, doesn’t it?

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