Oakland Employees Discuss Work After Dark


Russell Crawford, a security guard at the Cathedral of Learning, keeps the Cathedral safe at night. (Photo by Wenhao Wu | Assistant Visual Editor)

By Rose Luder | Staff Writer

Antoon’s co-owner Mike Abraham had one thing to say about his late-night shifts as a pizza maker.

“Too many drunk students,” Abraham said.

Abraham, a 46-year-old from Oakland, has run the popular pizza shop with his brother for the last 20 years. Like many employees around Oakland, Abraham often works long hours into the night and regularly comes into contact with inebriated Pitt students.

“It’s like parents don’t teach their kids how to act before coming to college,” Abraham said.

Raised right or not, a lot of Pitt students might be able to relate to Abraham’s exasperation with working late hours. College is their job — one that often requires late hours during the week in order to get good grades. Many then use weekends as a way to relieve stress by roaming around Oakland late into the night. 

Because students never seem to sleep, neither do the many employees — both on campus and near it — that serve them. This leaves a whole community of caffeine-fueled workers on night shift, desperately trying to stay awake long enough to see the last student leave Hillman.

While some employees, such as Abraham, spend their late hours joking around with drunk students, others have jobs that receive far less foot traffic. Bryan McKelvey — a 36-year-old Pitt grad — is the overnight building supervisor at Hillman Library. He said his night shift is much less exciting than Abraham’s job at Antoon’s.

“I have to figure out how to stay awake when I’m sitting all the time,” McKelvey said.

Bryan McKelvey, a 36-year-old Pitt grad, works as the overnight building supervisor at Hillman Library. (Photo by Wenhao Wu | Assistant Visual Editor)

Russell Crawford, the security guard at the Cathedral of Learning, said his secret to keeping his eyes open at night involves chemicals — specifically, caffeine.

“Just lots and lots of coffee, that’s how I stay awake,” Crawford said.

Crawford — like many other night shifters — works a day job on top of his night job, making staying awake that much harder. Crawford is from Penn Hills and works three days a week as a “permanent substitute teacher” on top of his job at the Cathedral’s security desk.

“I don’t get bored because I have my lesson plans that I do, and I read a lot of books,” Crawford said.

The mixed populations that traffic Oakland businesses after dark — a combination of late-night partiers and hard-core studiers — give night shift employees varied views on Pitt students.

While Abraham complained about his drunk customer base, other employees, such as 54-year-old Braddock resident and 7/11 worker Harold Abramf, expressed admiration for students.

“I can’t believe that students are actually working. If I were a student I’d be partying a lot.” Abramf said.

54-year-old Braddock resident Harold Abramf works on night shift at 7/11 on Forbes Avenue.(Photo by Wenhao Wu | Assistant Visual Editor)

Like Abramf, Abraham said interacting with students makes the job fun.

“It’s fun, we like making students happy,” Abraham said. “They’re funny, because we keep getting older and they keep acting stupid. But it’s fun to talk to them.”

McKelvey said despite having a job in an academic institution, he actually had very little interaction with Pitt students.

“The most frustrating thing is not having people to talk to … last night I got a phone call at 3 a.m. from somebody who was looking for information on epidemiology. I was so excited just to be able to share ideas and use my library skills,” McKelvey said.

McKelvey and Crawford both said more student traffic would be nice to see in their late-night jobs on campus. Abraham had a different request.

“Please do not steal Antoon’s shakers for souvenirs,” he said.


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