It is 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 31st, 2011 which means while everyone else I know is fighting crowds at the liquor store, watching alumnae hockey games, and getting ready for a night of heavy drinking, I’m hammering out a blog post in the hour of free time I have before suiting up for the closing shift at the Popcorn Plant. (I work at a movie theatre.) As I look back on my nearly six years with the company, I realize I cannot remember being off on New Year’s Eve since I was in high school. Typically, I’m crammed in a dingy office with another manager who’s working against their will. Through our shared misery, we celebrate the New Year in our own, depressing way as we count up the day’s registers only to look over at the clock reading 12:01 a.m. before turning and wishing each other a happy new year. And then we continue counting and complaining about the shots we should be drinking or the people we should be smooching.
New Year’s Eve, for those that will be working through midnight, is a pretty somber moment. At a time when everyone is thinking about new beginnings (and getting themselves into so much trouble during the hours leading up until midnight that they’ll need the idea of a clean slate to be able to justify their actions,) us workers are just looking to scrape by. In the back of our minds we think we’ll be able to catch a tiny bit of the celebration when our shift ends. When 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. or whenever rolls around, maybe there will be a flute of champagne waiting for us or that special someone whose endured the extra hours after midnight to be able to plant the first kiss of the new year on our dry lips. Maybe our friends have left the proverbial New Year’s ball in descension, only to be fully lowered when we make our presence at the party.
Truthfully, it could be a safe bet that twenty minutes after midnight all the champagne and liquor will be drained, all the cheers and jubilation will be exhausted, and all the lips will be soiled by ashtray tongues and sour breath. But perhaps the clarity of sobriety when the seconds tick away from another year is the only true way to celebrate a new beginning. Maybe working on such holidays does build character the way some, usually people who are not working on said occasion, say that it does.
None of this may be true. After all, I, your humble narrator, am just a disappointed youth forced to abandon one of many possible nights of liver damage and bad decisions. But for all of those people in the same boat, those that will work the tough shifts and deal with the drunks, New Year’s Eve is still a time for new beginnings. Perhaps at the end of next year we will have better jobs.