Finding Love on the Overnight Shift

Averi Harper and Kenneth Robinson, who met on a San Francisco train in September 2015, knew they might be destined for a future together when they realized their schedules had something in common: neither worked on Mondays or Tuesdays.

“When we first started dating, we had unconventional schedules, we were both working long, odd hours,” said Ms. Harper, 30, the deputy political director at ABC News in New York.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ms. Harper has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia.

She was living in Oakland, Calif., and working as a general assignment reporter at a television station in the San Francisco Bay Area, holding down the 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. shift, when she met Mr. Robinson, an aspiring chef who also lived in Oakland and was then working at a Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco. Most of his shifts began at 11 a.m. and would end as late as 1 a.m.

“Luckily for us, we both had Mondays and Tuesdays off,” she said, “so we were able to spend a lot of quality time together.”

“I made the first move on the train,” added Mr. Robinson, who is now 31 and an executive sous chef at Perry Street, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant in New York.

“She was beautiful and seemed very kind and caring,” he said. “She also had a really great, outgoing personality.”

The month after they met, around Halloween, Ms. Harper and Mr. Robinson had their official first date, on a Tuesday, at San Francisco’s Mission Dolores Park.

They developed a routine of sorts on their days off, spending Mondays with Mr. Robinson’s friends so that Ms. Harper could get to know them, and reserving Tuesdays for one-on-one time.

As they dated, Ms. Harper’s work schedule continued to take a toll on her. “By working what was essentially an overnight shift, I was eating and sleeping poorly and drinking a lot of gas station coffee,” she said.

“I would sometimes get sick, and when I did, Ken was always there for me,” Ms. Harper added. “One early morning I was sick enough to have to go to a hospital emergency room, and the first time I looked up, there he was again.”

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

Mr. Robinson, who grew up in Cleveland, graduated from the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute in Chesterland, Ohio. He moved to San Francisco in 2013 to “chase culinary aspirations,” as Ms. Harper put it. After the two met, he got a job at another Michelin-starred kitchen in Oakland, but his shifts remained just as long.

“Those were tough hours but I knew, as did Averi, that those were the kind of hours that we were going to have to keep to get to where we wanted to be, doing better jobs in our respective industries,” Mr. Robinson said, “so neither of us really complained.”

“Ken was very hard-working and yet very gentle,” Ms. Harper said. “He was also handsome and very smart, but what impressed me most about him was that he was a guy who lived every day of his life in the moment.”

The couple moved to New York in June 2017, when Ms. Harper took a job with News 12 on Long Island, working as a general assignment reporter and the host of a public affairs show that explored issues and concerns in the Black community. That same month, Mr. Robinson took a job as a sous chef at the Finch, a restaurant in Brooklyn that has since closed.

They were engaged in August 2019 by the Brooklyn Bridge. Mr. Robinson handed his cellphone off to a stranger to take photos of him dropping to one knee and proposing.

The couple married Oct. 10 at Flowerfield, a wedding space in St. James, N.Y., on Long Island’s North Shore, before the Rev. Mycal Brickhouse, senior pastor at Cary First Christian Church in Cary, N.C., and a college friend of Ms. Harper.

Among the 150 mostly vaccinated guests were the bride’s mother, Candace Brown-Harper of Westbury, N.Y., the groom’s mother, Monika Moss-Gransberry and his stepfather, Everett Gransberry, as well as his father, Rodney Robinson, all of Cleveland

“Ken once told me to never give up on my dreams because anything is possible, and those words never rang more true than the day I married him,” Ms. Harper said . “I’ve also learned from him the importance of slowing down a bit and enjoying every moment of your life.”