After Hours: Lester Alston

Lester Alston loves to cook. And laugh.

Position: Campus Security Officer

Years he’s worked at NCSSM: 17. He started out in housekeeping. [He’s married to Barbara Alston, NCSSM housekeeping supervisor.]

Home: Durham born and Durham raised. “I wouldn’t know to act if I went somewhere else.”

What he does outside of work: For the last eleven years, Alston has run a mowing business on the side. Currently he is maintaining 32 yards. But not for much longer. “In one more year, I’m going to give it to somebody else. I’m going to sit back and just go pick up the money,” he says.

Another hobby is cooking. “I love to cook. I was brought up with two sisters. Because I had such funny ways, they said, ‘You ain’t going to never get married, knucklehead, so you might as well just come on in this kitchen and learn how to make it yourself.’ ” The word around campus — okay, really, the word from Alston —  is that he makes the world’s greatest hot dogs.

And cooking isn’t all. “I used to love playing basketball. But now these bones are a little old, you know what I’m saying? I can’t move like I used to move.” A few years ago Alston displayed his athletic prowess during a student/staff basketball game. He entered the game, grabbed one rebound, threw three elbows, “hit the floor, looked up at the sky a couple of times,” then exited the game about two minutes later. His breathing could be heard throughout the gymnasium. “I ain’t played no more since.”

Alston’s short time on the court fit well with his approach to accomplishing tasks. “Do it fast. Whatever it is you gotta do, get it over with.”

Not surprisingly, Alston says he was wild as a kid. “Wild. Try anything. Yes, sir. I ran with the crowd and the crowd ran with me. But the crowd couldn’t keep up with me because I was running fast.”

What coworkers might not know:  “I’m a heck of a man,” he says. And then, of course, that smile and that laugh.

Best part of his job: “You get to meet different people. I love meeting different people. And you know, working that 12-hour shift, I’m always live. I keep it live.”

Favorite perk of working at NCSSM: “Sometimes you got some action, sometimes you don’t. It’s not a stressful job.”

One thing about working here that he’d do differently: “I’d like to see people get more money. A lot of people are overworked and under-paid. I’m talking about across the board. There’s a lot of people that deserve more money for what they’re doing.” Still, Lester is happy here. “I think it’s a great place to work, I really do. Out of all the jobs I’ve had, I’d rather be here than at any of the rest of them.”

— Interview and photo by Brian Faircloth



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