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Working around-the-clock

Spending New Year’s Eve on job part of the deal for many people

Some of you will be on the couch, watching the big party in New York’s Times Square on your flat-screen TV.

Some will be at a restaurant or bar, celebrating with family or friends.

Some will even be at a Watch Night Service – worshipping while awaiting the arrival of 2013.

And then there are those who will be on the time clock – their 9-to-5 or, more accurately, their overnight shift – as they watch the new year come in.

Some employees may do it begrudgingly. Others recognize that such scheduling simply comes with the work they do – like some of the cooks, waiters and waitresses at IHOP, 1535 W. Washington Center Road. Mike Ringley is general manager at the restaurant, which is normally open 24 hours except Christmas Day.

IHOP employees can request specific time off at least weeks in advance. Finding people who don’t mind being at work when the new year arrives can be challenging, Ringley concedes, but the employees know business needs come first.

“Usually it’s a good moneymaker; the staff usually makes pretty good money that day,” he said. “But we do get a lot of requests off.”

Along with those in the restaurant industry, numerous workers could be tasked with being on the time clock when the calendar year changes.

Hospitals are open 24/7.

Public safety workers have to ensure round-the-clock coverage.

Taxi drivers are often on standby, ready to transport those who have celebrated too much and don’t want to risk the dangerous, erratic driving that might cause a cop to pull them over.

To the rescue

Mike McCoy is used to working New Year’s Eve into the new year because inevitably … someone will get into trouble.

By day, McCoy runs his own local custom framing business – The Framery.

By night, McCoy is an employee for Markey Bonding, which helps people get out of jail on a promise they’ll make a court date later.

“Unless I’m out of town for other things,” McCoy said, “I work every night from 10 at night to 7 in the morning.”

New Year’s Eve is rarely any different. But McCoy – who can even be relaxing at home until he gets a work call – doesn’t seem to mind.

“I think the phone definitely rings, for lack of a better word, on a typical drinking night,” said McCoy, who has been doing bond work for about 25 years. “People know that I do this and if the call comes, I have to go take care of it.”

And McCoy says his wife is a good sport – even if he has to step out on a holiday celebration they’re enjoying with friends.

On some New Year’s Eves, McCoy said he has taken 10 to 15 calls through Markey Bonding. Helping people get out of jail who have had too much to drink and face a driving-related charge is the most common. But McCoy said physical altercations leading to battery charges – sometimes also due to inebriation – aren’t uncommon.

On nights when he’s working, even if he’s at a party, McCoy tapers his own celebrating.

“On nights when I work, I don’t consume at all,” he said. “It’s just not kosher.”

New arrivals

Stephanie Burkhart, is a registered nurse at The Birthplace at St. Joseph Hospital.

In her 33 years as a St. Joseph nurse, Burkhart said she has worked more New Year’s Eves than she’s had off. Today, she’s scheduled for a 7 a.m.-to-7:30 p.m. shift – so she’ll be able to ring in the new year at home, or wherever she chooses, provided she’s not too worn out from work.

Odds are that she’ll be at home.

“I have worked more frequently New Year’s Eve because I never have anything to do,” Burkhart said. “It’s always kind of fun here because we’re always expecting the first baby of the new year.”

Every hospital has a first baby of the new year – even if the hospital doesn’t have the city’s “first” baby of the new year.

“The patients come in; they’re excited too,” said Burkhart, who was born at the hospital where she is employed. “It’s usually a very upbeat time, which makes it a little bit easier to work on the holiday.”

“If I can’t spend it with my family, I like to spend it here with my St. Joe family,” Burkhart said.

Some expectant mothers and fathers may keep their fingers crossed for their baby to arrive before the year ends; there’s this financial thing known as an extra tax deduction.

But even in cases where legitimate circumstances allow labor to be induced, there’s never a guarantee about the arrival date.

“Babies come when they’re ready,” Burkhart said.

If she’s not working when the new year rolls in, Burkhart is typically relaxed at home, watching the Times Square celebration. She’s married and has five children, three of whom are still at home. One, a 24-year-old daughter, is a nurse at Lutheran Hospital. This year, even that daughter has New Year’s Eve night off.

“She’s happy about it,” Burkhart said. “She’s young, and so she obviously has plans.”

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