The rest of the Central American tour had been fun, almost festive. Considering the time of the year, that made sense. Christmas was approaching. People had been loud, cheerful, and open to start a conversation or spontaneous lunch with the visitor from North America. So much fun that it didn’t seem like work.
In stark contrast, the airport in Nicaragua was austere and sullen. Customs were mechanical. People talked in low voices. The driver waiting for me could not be drawn into a conversation. He kept looking in his rear-view mirror. He carefully minded the speed limit. I had not observed that in the other countries.
A horn blared behind us. My driver jumped, and inched toward the side of the road.The military Jeep came up close behind us. I thought they would to stop us. Instead, the jeep roared past us. It was overloaded with uniformed men. They bounced on with Kalishnikov’s slung over their shoulders, quickly out of sight.
Next morning, I arrived at the severe government office where I was to make my presentation. I introduced myself to the translator. We worked out the standard mechanics of translating – the pace and size of the sound bites. It was getting to be time.
Leaders of business and the military were seated in the room in front of me. My first slide was up. I looked over my audience. To a man I could see they were expecting the worst news from me. I took a deep breath, and gave my usual start to the presentation:
“Thank you for taking time from your very busy schedules to listen to me. We all know that the results of this problem can have severe effects on your business and security. My team has reviewed the efforts to analyze and correct the defects. Thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars have been spent.
“As a result, I can safely assure you that the problem called the ‘Y2K Bug’ will not have an adverse impact on you. This is the first time in history that we had the time and knowledge to successfully avoid an international catastrophe.”
The room relaxed. So did I.