I know everyone has New Year’s Eve memories, but mine all involve Dick Clark. He was there for me. Really.

New Year’s Eve is the one night of the year that almost everyone, at least once in their lives, has donned something fancy and joined the rest of the world in horn-blowing and hat-wearing merriment.

Not me.

My first jobs were in nursing homes and hospitals, followed by with a career in the hospitality industry. By my count I’ve had exactly five New Year’s Eve nights off in the last 35 years. And I’m not complaining.

I’ll tell you a little secret. It’s ‘way better to be working than trying to conjure up fun and pretend as if drinking warm champagne out of wobbly plastic glasses while wearing even wobblier shoes is a treat.

Even though I’ve worked all these years, I’ve known at midnight I’d get a respite from the madness. Whether I was watching the countdown on a fuzzy television screen in a nursing home patient’s room or standing in the middle of a bar with a tray in hand, Dick Clark was there for me. All of those years, for those five minutes between the old year and the new, everything stopped. All eyes and ears were on Dick. No one called for a bedpan, snapped his fingers for their check–or even died, for that matter.

And every time I’d wave like a maniac at the television, thanking Dick for getting me through one more year.

I’m not sure how I’ll handle this December 31st without him. Anyone want to cover my shift?

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