Full of life on the graveyard shift
As a building services employee with the University of Alberta for nearly 30 years, he has worked in practically every building on campus. Nevertheless, he’s difficult for most people to spot, due to the fact that he has been working the night shift since he was promoted to the head of the carpet and floor crew in 1988, punching in at 11 p.m.
“I love it anyway,” said Trang, when asked about the nocturnal schedule. “I sleep from 8:30 or nine o’clock until three or four, unless there’s some emergency.”
Tran’s demeanour would give you the impression that he’s never known a day of misfortune in his life. However, only a year before starting with the U of A, Tran was confined to an Indonesian refugee camp after fleeing the violence in his home country of Vietnam. After six months of internment, he and his family were moved to Canada.
“A friend of mine got a job here, called me and said, ‘There’s a job with the university . . . but it’s the night shift.’”
Tran jumped at the opportunity, and three decades later, still has an air of enthusiasm that rivals a sprinter at the starting gate.
“I like to work here. It’s all friendly people. Everywhere I go on campus, all the staff, they like to see me.”
Tran’s lengthy involvement with the U of A has also inspired his children to pursue their academic careers here. His daughter is set to begin her second year of general sciences in September, and his son, who is still just 12 years old, plans to enrol after graduation. “He’s talking about going into mechanical engineering,” said Tran, “but it’s still early for him. When he gets through high school, he can make up his mind.”
If Tran’s late-night schedule has worn him down any, he doesn’t show it. When asked about his plans after retirement, Tran says he plans to keep on working in the field he has come to know so well through his time with the university.
“Maybe I’ll open my own cleaning business.” he says with a smile. “Fifty-five is still too early to retire.”