It’s 5:33 PM on New Year’s Eve. For some reason New Year’s Eve has become a significant contributor to some landmark memories for me, memories that will always be with me. Maybe it’s because the day represents such finality. Starting tomorrow, for example, 2009 better be the number that you write on the forms, checks, and documents because 2008 will be gone, gone, gone.
One vivid and unique New Year’s Eve memory occurred back in 1985. After making payroll 24 times a year for 59 consecutive months, success or failure all boiled down to the last day of December. Truthfully, for the first time in five years, there was not enough cash to compete the payroll. As I was closing down the office and preparing to leave for the night, the main door of the building opened and footsteps could be heard coming through the gallery. My mind went immediately to the dark side. Is someone coming here to rob or kill me? Let’s be candid, this was a rural arts center, for goodness sake on New Year’s Eve. Who in their right mind would be coming into the gallery five minutes before closing?
As it turned out, the footsteps were coming from a donor who was there to present me with a check. That check came to exactly the amount of money needed to complete payroll. My immediate response was that the universe had, once again, taken care of the problem, but later, the concept of almost not making payroll put me over the edge and sent me on a job search for something that was just a little more secure.
For two years after my father died, pneumonia became my New Year’s Eve visitor. My kids were two years old and five months old, and my chest cold had gotten worse and worse until finally, the doc said, “It’s pneumonia.” So, 1975 and 1976 were my pneumonia years. The most memorable part of those two years was that pneumonia boy got to stay at home with the kids while the rest of the world partied.
Finally, the New Year’s Eve of Y2K holds a prominent spot in my brain as well. The team of IT specialists, finance personnel, maintenance, and administrative leaders all gathered in the conference room to ensure that the the world would not come to an end. Some of you have read the story before, but just as the ball began to drop on Times Square, one of our computer jocks accidentally leaned up against the light switch and all of the lights went off simultaneously. A wave of palpable fear swept through the room until one of the team members said, “Hey, the television isn’t off; we’re okay.”
Well, today was my last day of work as a hospital administrator and research institute executive, but the puropse of this New Year’s Eve blog is not to tell you about my pneumonia, about light switches going off, or even about making payroll. It is to let you know that, in spite of the title and career change, we’re doing okay. So, Happy New Year to all, and remember, the only bad New Year is no New Year.