12/31/2016
An exclusive interview with two years ago

This blog has interviewed the year 2014 two times, first before he took over from 2013, and again right after he gave way to 2015. Since then he has retired to a penthouse suite in Kuala Lumpur, and has observed how the past couple of years have conducted their business. During my recent vacation there last November, I caught up with 2014.

You're looking good, 2014. Looks like retirement has treated you well.

You don't have to worry as much anymore, so you get time to focus on yourself, to pamper yourself.

Why did you choose to retire in Malaysia?

I'm not really sure why. When they welcomed 2015 here it was lonely here. There were few fireworks, but worse of all, it was raining hard. I somehow felt the urge to stay around.

But not every place in the world does fireworks during the transition period.

True.

I mean, there must be another reason.

I'll say I like the food here. Not too exotic, but exotic enough.

Fair enough. This is a very nice place you have, though.

Isn't it great? The view isn't that inspiring, but you can't complain once you remember you're living in what used to be the tallest buildings in the world. And the shopping is nearby - just an elevator ride down. I see you bought something.

It's for my girlfriend. There's no Urban Decay in the Philippines.

That's a pity.

Anyway, you said you wanted to stay around here because of how sad their New Year celebrations were. I was here too when 2015 came along. I know what you mean. But didn't you say you weren't supposed to interfere with how things are?

That's correct, but they allow some leeway when you're retired. Besides, they figured, what harm can we do? We no longer have our hands on the controls. We just do what we can. I know 2000 decided to work in some tech firm. Uber, I think? Wanted to be useful because everybody was afraid he'd pull the plug on everything when he took over.

I don't use Uber myself. I guess I still have hope in taxi drivers.

And they're terrible where you come from.

But of course you know that.

I see a lot of things, Niko.

Anyway, I came here because of 2016. People say it was a terrible year. Maybe you could provide some insight into how he is as a year?

He seemed fine when he started training. I didn't notice much. He seemed reserved, always kept to himself. But he didn't look that different when we trained.

Is he very much like you?

We years tend to be homogenous. You don't get picked to train for Year School that easily. If you look a little different, you're out of the running. The criteria, I'm told, is very strict. I was picked and I don't know what that criteria is myself. I'm also told it changes constantly, as a response to how we years fare once we're set out into the world.

And since you train for fourteen years, there's enough time to respond.

Correct.

But that means 2016 started training when 2002 was in the controls. Fourteen years is an awful long time. A lot has changed since then.

I don't think it's made any difference. I started training when 2000 was in charge, and that was a very different world then. Nobody thought someone would crash a plane on a building to make a statement.

That's true. So you're saying it's hard to tell why 2016 did things they way he did?

Well, you can make little guesses. We may be homogenous but we all indulged in our own hobbies and interests during our off hours. I liked organizing my drawers, for instance. I guess that showed when I took over. Although I didn't do much. I just cleaned my desk a lot.

It shows in your pad here.

Yeah. And Kuala Lumpur can be messy, so here's an oasis of sorts.

What did 2016 like to do?

He liked reading books.

That doesn't sound bad.

Not at all. He liked the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series the most.

I've only seen the movie, but I've heard of that - the radio dramas, the books...

He watched the movie a lot of times. I think he has a crush on Zooey Deschanel. Several times he'd come to lunch singing that song. "So long and thanks for all the fish..."

The dolphins' song?

Yeah. Apparently they sang it before leaving Earth, before the planet would be destroyed to give way to some highway. I don't know why you need highways in outer space...

Artistic license?

It doesn't make sense!

But that was a surreal scene. You have dolphins leaping out of the water singing to some grand song.

That inspired him.

What do you mean?

He always liked the idea of the smarter people leaving this world before it could go kaput on everybody else. The "better" people, he called it.

2014, has it ever occurred to you that he might have done exactly that in these past few months? I mean, look at how many actors, musicians, loved politicians have died this year...

You know, it has. But, as you know, we years cannot interfere directly.

But you said you can nudge things one way or another. "Quality control", as you put it in our first interview.

That thought did occur to me, Niko. I mean, David Bowie died and I thought, "well, he was keeping that cancer diagnosis from everybody." And then people just started dying one after the other. Snape, Prince, Kuya Germs... but then I thought it was just timing. That, and social media. I see people don't ask us outright to be nice to them anymore, but they instead needlessly celebrate people like Taylor Swift. "God damn genius," I saw many people call her. It follows, when someone pretty big dies, the same public outpouring of sentiments follows. But I don't know when people will die. It's not what we do. I don't think he knows, too.

Is it possible that 2016 did something, though, to make it that way?

No, we can't kill people. We can't kill people, whether he's loved or hated, whether he's popular or irrelevant.

I mean, could he have, you know, nudged things?

It's possible, but I can't tell you for sure. When we take over, we're isolated from everybody else. No contact at all, at least until the very last week, when we're supposed to talk to our successor. But I'll tell you this: we're supposed to keep balance. I think you already know that. When someone goes, someone has to take his place.

Trump, Duterte? Brexit?

It can't be just 2016.

Did you see that coming?

People have always been dissatisfied. It didn't seem different to me when I took over, so I didn't do much about it. But I have seen it fester during my retirement. There are rallies here in Kuala Lumpur, as you know. I hope you didn't bring a yellow shirt.

I didn't. No red shirts, too.

Good, good.

Yesterday, roughly a month after our first conversation, we talked again, this time over the phone.

How are things?

I'm starting to think 2016 interfered more than he should have. I mean, Carrie Fisher is now dead? I loved her books. This has gotten too far.

How come?

I've had time to connect the dots. But again, I'm not sure how. All I know is this does all seem lopsided.

It is lopsided, but to some it's a good thing, but to others, it isn't.

You mean David Bowie is not universally loved?

I don't know anybody who actively hates him, but, I mean, some don't care about him. Some don't know about him. But I was thinking about what's happening on my side of the world - how some detest Duterte's policies, while others rally behind him no matter what. I mean, one person's garbage is another person's treasure.

You're forgetting, however, that people no longer agree to disagree. You've seen it in your side of the world. You've seen it in the United States - how blues see reds as evil, how reds see blues as evil.

There has been a theme of reclaiming things this year.

People have certainly felt things are being taken away from them. The kids want their way. The adults want their way. Nobody would give way. All for the sake of unity, they say, for moving on, for moving forward.

That's surprisingly political for you.

I'm retired, Niko.

I'm sure you've observed that when you were in charge?

Again, I was not supposed to intervene.

Do you feel bad about it?

Kind of. I think that's also why I chose to retire here in Kuala Lumpur. But we were chosen because we're supposed to play by the rules. And I don't see a reason why we shouldn't.

Why did 2016 not play by the rules?

I'm not saying he did, but he did some things. Why, I don't know.

Was there an inclination when he was training?

He liked to role play. He liked playing the Sims.

Well, that sort of explains a lot of things, don't you think?

Maybe he had some fun. I did, too. But I can't be very certain, I'm afraid.

Well, we all have fun when we can, but often it's at the expense of other people, and we don't know that... sometimes ever.

And for those of us who do know, we'll somewhat have to live with it. But enough of that. How was your 2016?

I wouldn't say it was good. I changed jobs, spiraled into some sort of depression...

But you seem to do well in other things.

Yeah, but then I've always been a glass empty person.

Do you think 2016 has been bad for you?

I don't blame it on years, really.

Good, good.

And your responses...

Why interview 2014 and not 2016?

Anonymous Serena1/03/2017     

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