9 Shocking Stories From People Who Have Worked On New Year’s Eve

“Bartending on New Year’s Eve was my own personal Vietnam.”

Stephen Chernin / Getty Images

Times Square in New York City the day after New Year’s.

1. Bartender, New York City


“I’ve worked two New Year’s Eves at this bar, which is fun because the staff is awesome. But the kind of customers who end up here…well, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly their plan to end up here. So they can be kind of weird.

The first New Year’s that I worked here was the first New Year’s that I worked ever, actually, so I got all dressed up and brought my own bottle of champagne. At midnight there was just the staff and a few stragglers, plus this ten-top of tourists who didn’t speak any English. They specifically wanted to come here and I don’t know why. But we have those little individual cans of champagne, so they ordered that and had a good time.

At midnight, my boss didn’t even offer us a drink! So I popped my bottle of champagne and the staff drank that.”

2. Bartender, New York City


“I got thrown up on one New Year’s. I was bartending on the Lower East Side, and this guy ordered four shots of Jaeger. I handed them to him and he and his three friends took them all at once. Then he leaned across the bar to pay me and ‘blechhhhhhhhhhh!’

It’s not even worth the money to work on New Year’s. A lot of the customers are people who don’t usually drink [“Amateur night!” interjected the lone patron at the bar] so they can’t handle their alcohol. Totally not worth it.”

3. Boarding Kennel Manager, North Carolina


“I worked with dogs for 8 years and had to work all holidays. It was exhausting, considering work days usually lasted 10-12 hours depending on the day. We were always slammed for New Year’s; I’d have to be at work at 7 a.m. on New Year’s Day taking care of over 100 dogs. We had a staff of around 6 working New Year’s, so each person was essentially taking care of 20 dogs, many of whom got stress diarrhea from the fireworks at midnight. It sucked. Bad.”

4. Bartender, Iowa City


“Bartending in an Iowa City college-kid bar on New Year’s Eve was my own personal Vietnam.

There were the hordes of already-shitfaced kids bellying up to the bar, reaching over to grab me like corn-fed zombies chasing brains. There were the girls doing a bad job of balancing on their too-high heels. There was the one wasted staff member, a tiny little thing named Carly, crying and screaming at a customer who hadn’t done anything, trying to kick her out, and there was Matt the waiter coming behind the bar and messing with my iPod and pouring himself shots. There was the girl who wandered in too plowed to be alive, too plowed to talk, plopping her blacked-out ass down on leering strangers’ laps while my then-girlfriend tried and failed to find the girl’s friends. (We eventually tried to get her into a cab but had to settle for steering her into the bar next door and praying for the best.) There was the broken glass and soaked toilet paper and vomit all over the men’s room. There was the general sense of a rising tide of menace, an apocalyptic fog that got thicker and thicker the hotter and drunker the room got. Thank God the manager was there with me, because without her I would’ve been dead. I don’t remember how the night ended.

I will be goddamned if I ever work another New Year’s.”

5. Club Manager, New York City


“I was working as the general manager of a nightclub on New Year’s Eve when we had a near-disaster. We were all set up for the ball to drop when the TVs stopped working and the live feed started the countdown before it was even close to the actual countdown. I had to shut down all of the TVs. People had fun shouting out their own countdown, but I was definitely sweating.”

6. Food Cart Vendor, New York City


“New Year’s Eve is actually pretty quiet — after Thanksgiving I don’t get big crowds, because it’s too cold. But, you know, on New Year’s a guy will have too much to drink and come try to pick a fight with me, and I’ll have to ignore him. And I’m in competition with that guy right there [pointing at a very similar-looking food cart ten feet away] for customers.”

7. Waiter, New Jersey


“Ask anyone in the restaurant industry and if they say they haven’t drank while working, they’re lying. About two year’s ago, on New Year’s Eve, I decided to take a few shots while waiting tables. Regardless of that, my tables remarked how I seemed like one of the happier waiters they’d seen. Then, I would slur some sentence at them.

Here comes the tragedy. Usually there is one person who closes the restaurant, the ‘closer,’ if you will. That person called out and they needed a person to take his place. As no one wanted to do so, we pulled straws. I pulled the short one.

As the closer, I would have to take the last table of the night and vacuum the restaurant before we go. Making it to a New Year’s party I wanted to go to by midnight seemed less and less likely.

The last table of the night was an 11 person table with 7 children and 4 adults. They proved to be the worst of worst people. Super rich, and very showy about it. They stayed for a super long time; the kids ran around the restaurant moving shit around, the parents were extremely needy and continually reminded me that I wouldn’t be able to leave the restaurant til they were finished (their idea of a ‘joke’). The husband also kept joking that I was trying to steal his wife; he’d whisper loudly to me, ‘You can have her.’ He made this joke 4 times. The kids kept trying to convince me to give them alcohol, but they were all 8 to 11, so I just made them thousands of Shirley Temples. I never want to make another one of those.

Thank god the bartender was there too. The constant feeding me of drinks made this table moderately tolerable. By the end of the night, I was sloshed and was practically spilling the coffees and desserts on the table (possibly intentionally).

Eventually, they finished, and left a standard size tip.

I cleaned the restaurant very, very fast, and the bartender gave me a ride to my friend’s party just in time for the ball to drop!”

8. Club Hostess, New York City


“There was a girl last year who got so drunk that she couldn’t stand up — she was wearing these really high heels. Her friend was trying to help her, but the girl was so drunk that she just started crying and yelling. Besides, the friend was holding her shoes in her hands, so it’s not like she could even have helped. Everyone was standing in a circle wondering what to do, and security tried to help her up but she kept screaming at them, like, ‘I’m a lady! I don’t need your help!’ And then I tried to help, because I felt bad for her — she and her friend were so cute, when you saw them you were like, ‘Honey, you’re so pretty, stand up!’ — but she wasn’t having any of it. Finally, one of their friends grabbed both of them, holding them each by one arm, and took them out. Everyone was just standing there looking at them.”

9. Waiter, New York City


“I’ve only worked New Year’s in New York once. Nothing exciting happened while I was working, but I did break up with my boyfriend later that night.”

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