Oberlin After Dark

While most of Oberlin is sleeping (or getting intoxicated), the night holds an entire set of activities for those who work well past midnight. The staff at Mercy Allen Hospital field emergency calls. Safety & Security officers cruise through town. Bartenders at the Feve and Agave serve drinks to tipsy customers. Here on campus, some students are just beginning their second shift: as employees of College institutions.

Erica Reyes, Staff Writer

Mudd Circulation Desk: An interview with College junior Piper Stull-Lane

How do you stay awake?

Well, usually when I work a shift in the evening, I schedule it so that it’s directly after a late night class, so I’m already kind of wired. Otherwise, coffee always helps. It’s kind of worth it, because people usually don’t like the late night shifts, so that’s a way to get extra hours. [You get paid more] during special times, like during finals [or] when the library is open all night. You get paid for working the [horrible hours].

Do you have classes the morning after late night shifts? How do you balance your homework and everything else?

Yeah, I have class at nine in the morning. Usually, fortunately, at the Circulation desk, if you’ve finished all of your assigned tasks, you can do your homework, but it’s kind of hard to concentrate when you’re helping patrons all the time. Honestly, I don’t do much work at the desk, but it’s kind of that unwritten rule: The more you have to do, the more efficient you are with the time that you do have. So I generally get my work done beforehand. I usually get to sleep between 2 or 3 a.m., which I think is pretty average at Oberlin. I do a lot of sleeping on the weekends.

Do people do weird things here the later it gets?

Definitely. That’s a great rule: The later it gets, the weirder people get, and the less they think that rules matter, which I love because I’m bored working at the desk. People coming in and doing cartwheels and totally cracked out on coffee, talking to you about absurd things — it’s entertaining; I love it. Last year, there were some dance parties later in the evening. We had a rollerblading race at one point; that was really entertaining.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen?

We had a streaker when it wasn’t streaking time. There are naked runs through the library sometimes, but there wasn’t a scheduled naked run, and they were just naked and ran around and jumped on desks and things. It was pretty weird.

Did people care?


Does working late hours affect your social life?

Sometimes I see my friends [and we hang] out. I didn’t work campus jobs freshman year, and I think at the time I didn’t really realize how big of a time commitment it actually is to have a job, and how it really does reformat your day. Once I did have an on-campus job, it’s a bit more scheduling and you can do less spur-of-the-moment things. At the same time, the campus jobs we have right now are the easiest and the most generous jobs we’ll have in our lives, so I’m not really complaining.

What else is interesting about working at night?

Because there are so many weird people, you often get gifts. Different staffers from departments will come down with extra cookies and cupcakes from staff parties and be like, “Do you guys want it?” One time, these girls came into Mudd and had a cantaloupe they had gotten fresh from the Oberlin market, but they didn’t want it anymore because they didn’t want to take it home. I said I’d take it, and I had a cantaloupe. That was really awesome. You get some pretty silly things. Another thing about working late is you work with people who are similar to you, since you’re both late-night people. I get along best with the people I work with on late-night shifts.

Wilder Desk: An interview with College sophomore Alison Kozol and College senior Martin Rouse.

How do you keep awake during your shift?

AK: I work from 8:45 [p.m.]. to close, which is usually around 12 to 12:15 [a.m.]. I don’t have a hard time staying awake because I’m usually awake around these hours. Also, the ’Sco is really loud and I do a lot of homework.

MR: I usually don’t drink coffee, but I do put on a lot of music — really loud music that makes me want to dance.

Do you find you get a lot of homework done even with everyone distracting you, and do you think your schedule would be different if you didn’t work at this time?

AK: Sort of… I’ve been getting a lot done today, at least. When I want to do work, I do it. But I usually just sit here. When I do homework, I stay more awake than when I don’t do homework, though.

MR: It would be a little bit different. I probably would get to bed earlier. I have trouble doing homework here for some reason.

Do people do weird things at night, as they get more tired?

AK: Yes, really. My Saturday afternoon shift, everyone’s really normal. No one really comes in then. But Monday nights, people are so weird. They put stuff on my desk and they take stuff off; there’s this one kid who sometimes comes in wearing a mask and talks to me, asks me all these questions about myself. I don’t even know if he goes here, but yeah, people are really weird after 10 p.m. Some people interview me, you know.

MR: A little bit. There are some people that like to talk to you — some of them are getting drunk, even though it’s a Monday, so they sound a little out of it… I can’t think of a good [story]; it’s just the fact that no one really talks to me. They talk to [Alison, who stands at the front]. I’m “in charge,” so I’m the building monitor. I check to make sure furniture is still around and no one’s trashing the place. I handle money, too.

What are some interesting things that happen?

AK: People tend to ask me things about myself and it’s easier to have conversations with people at night, and it’s a lot more fun to work at night because there’s a lot more independence. I can always hear the concerts at the ’Sco, which is cool. That’s really it. It’s a good way to make money. If you’re gonna quote me, say that I will provide stellar customer service at any time of day. People give you a lot of food. People buy me stuff, which is a great perk of working late at night — whether they’re drunk or high, they just buy me stuff at night. I’ve gotten three snacks already tonight from three different people.

People you don’t know?

AK: No, people I know.

Does it get creepier at night, when it’s totally quiet?

AK: It’s only creepy [sometimes]. I’ve never seen the Wilder ghost … but when we close the desk and we’re behind it, I don’t know who’s outside. Sometimes there are people who shouldn’t be there, and it creeps me out. But usually it’s not weird. And I always have [a friend] walk me home.

MR: A little bit. I find people sitting in the bathroom at night, and I’m like, “Why are you here? You’re not using the bathroom.” They …get embarrassed and leave. A little bit creepy. I have to go up to the fourth floor, and it’s like a little attic with bats … sometimes there are creepy townies that come in … We have some strange characters. There are some people that are banned from the building; there’s a long list, students and townies. We are trained in bomb threats and fires, because those things have all happened here.

Why did you choose to work the night shift? Is the pay better?

AK: The pay is the same, and I don’t like working during the day. MR: Less happens and I have to do less.