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by Dale Connelly, 12/31/99

Dc: This is DCR. News meant for amusement. If you checked the papers and travel magazines over the past few months, you probably noticed quite a few pricey New Year's vacation packages ... for people intent on spending the first moments of the new century and millennium in an exotic, never to be forgotten location.
The choice between making a vivid memory ... or staying home and hunkering down ... was a difficult one for many people.
I thought it would be fun to talk to two individuals who made different choices. Advertising account executive Cindy Barley is in Ciudad Tourista Gringa in beautiful Mexico. Hello, Ms. Barley.

(sfx: wind through phone)

Barley: Hello. Good to talk to you.

Dc: It sounds like you opted to make a magnificent millennial memory!

Barley: Yes I did! I am talking to you from the top of a mountain! I'm near the peak of Mount Eugenio. The stars are twinkling overhead. There is peace. I'm with a community of travelers ... seekers, if you will. This is exactly where I wanted to be at the very moment of arrival for the 21st century! Me ... here ... in direct contact with the universe!
I couldn't be happier.

Dc: And on the other line is auto body shop customer service representative Nathan Lustig of Absorbtion, Illinois, who is at home for the millennial moment.

Lustig: In my basement, inside a fortress I've built out of old mattresses. I've got a couple of flashlights, a tank of purified water, a case of vitamin rich, naturally sweetened granola bars, a portable TV (wishful thinking, I know), and a bunch of books I haven't read. And a chemical toilet. Very important. I feel safe and secure.

Dc: Well you each certainly have had a different reaction to this event.
Can you each explain what led you to your choice?

Barley: I was determined not to give into fear! So many people scaled back their plans ... I decided to embrace the world and all it's imperfections! This is an enormous risk, but it's worth it if I can feel at one with the planet and all it's people.

Lustig: I'm one with my armchair. I plan to stay here for at least a week.

Dc: But you can hear, Mr. Lustig, that Ms. Barley is feeling fine at the top of her mountain in Mexico.

Barley: That's right! I feel fully alive!

Dc: So maybe you made a mistake, being so careful!

Lustig: Ask her how she's getting back to the states.

Barley: How am I getting back to the states?
It's a day's travel on the bus and then regular commercial flights.

Lustig: And you're sure those planes will be flying?

Barley: Pretty sure.

Lustig: Have you ever slept in an airport lounge?

Barley: Not yet.

Lustig: I have, so ... I'm staying close to my bed. I know it's Y2K ready!

Barley: I can appreciate that, but ... I still feel like this is better than hiding out. Like a coward. If there's trouble with me finding my way back home ... so be it! It will be another adventure to add to my magnificent night on top of this mountain.

Lustig: You got anything to eat up there?

Barley: I have a small supply of dried fruit and candy bars, but I probably will fast through the night to enrich the experience, spiritually.

Lustig: Yeah, I heard there might be food problems abroad.

Dc: But that's not why she's doing it.

Lustig: Right.

Barley: It's a choice.

Lustig: Well I'm hooked on food, and I've filled my basement with enough to last me quite a while. My plan is to eat until I feel little sick ... and then try to go a couple of days without a formal meal so I can keep an eye out for prowlers who might be after my supplies.

Dc: There are prowlers?

Lustig: No. Not yet. I've got neighbors, though. Especially those blasted kids coming over to peek at me through the basement windows.

Barley: That's one thing I miss. I wish there were more children here. Children, and friends.

Dc: Have you noticed any service problems with your electricity or water or phone or anything, Mr. Lustig?

Lustig: Everything's working fine. Which is ... kind of a disappointment.

Dc: How so?

Lustig:. Being ready for breakdowns ... can be really satisfying if they actually happen. Then you're kind of like ... a prophet. And if there are other people around who WEREN'T ready ... and they get caught ... that's really sweet. That's my dream for the next few days.

Dc: And Ms. Barley, it sounds like your cell phone is working too.

Barley: No, actually my cell phone is dead. I'm on a pay phone in the parking lot.

Dc: There's a parking lot?

Barley: For the busses.

Dc: Busses?

Barley: Many busses. There's a scenic overlook here. You can't get to it unless you take the bus, and the busses are all booked up by senior citizen tour groups.

Dc: So that's the "community of seekers" you mentioned?

Barley: Yes, they're the Iowa City Snowbirds.

Dc: And you're with them right now?

Barley: Well I'm alone right now. Nobody wants to be in the parking lot. They're all over looking over the overlook. Even the bus drivers are.
I was hoping for more of a sense of ... community. That's one thing I miss. I think they're mad at me because I bought my tickets online and spent less than they did.

Dc: So you're not going to spend the night up there?

Barley: I think we ARE going to spend the night. The bus won't start. But my seat is by a window and when I open the window, I'll see the stars and feel at one with the universe! If it doesn't cloud up.

Dc: It's cloudy?

Barley: Getting there.

Lustig: I have windows here too. And the sky is beautifully clear. At least I think it is ... I catch glimpses of it when the crowds of kids part.

Dc: The kids are still peeking at you?

Lustig: In fact, I think they're up there with their families, having a cook out. I'm the neighborhood eccentric, you know, and great entertainment.

Dc: It sounds like you got the community she was after.

Lustig: Yeah, well ... she's having the service failures I was counting on to help me feel smug.

Barley: Well ... you can feel smug about me being in this stupid situation if I can feel superior to you because you're hiding out.

Lustig: It's a deal.

Dc: Well, I'm glad I introduced you two. It sounds like everybody got something nice for the new year.

Both: Thanks!

Barley: You've really made my celebration complete. I'm surprised I had to come so far to find out the source of my good time was much closer to home.

Lustig: And even though I'm trying to be anti-social, I'm glad to help out.

Dc: Advertising account executive Cindy Barley is experiencing the holiday on Mount Eugenio near Ciudad Tourista Gringa in Mexico, and auto body shop customer service representative Nathan Lustig is welcoming the new year in his basement bunker in Absorbtion, Illinois.

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