Work History, Part Three

After Crowley’s went out of business, I decided to take a break.

I punched the clock at home.  In the morning I’d punch in when I woke up.  Then I’d punch out last thing before going to sleep.  I did this for many years.

I was a full-time artist, at last.  I did a lot of writing, drawing and painting. I started a series of oil paintings.  At least three of these were larger and more labor intensive than usual.  I spent over twenty hours on just one painting.

The “Spaceband” was new.  Along with four friends, I was developing that. I was also still very active with the puppet shows and the “Don’t Look Now Jug Band.”  It was 1999 and 2000, so the change of the century was also energizing.  I called it my “rehearsals for retirement.” I worked hard and got a lot done.

Then, like a snake in paradise, a health emergency came along.  I was in the hospital overnight twice in the year 2000 due to a bad infection. Thank you doctors, nurses and antibiotics. I’m still alive.

Then, of course, I was not making a living from my art.  Eventually, I sought further employment.  After a few false starts, I ended up at the Value City store in Warren, Michigan.  I liked the Universal Mall.  It had character, as malls go.  I especially enjoyed its excellent cinema, a dollar show which would actually show good films now and then.

I had to take the bus there. On Sundays, the bus didn’t go there, so had to walk for half an hour or more, to and from the bus stop.  I’d mainly clean and help stock the shelves. It was hard work but most of my co-workers were nice enough.

After working there for over a year, I managed to get a good job, a job that I’m still working at today.

At the University of Detroit Mercy Library, 2002

In late Spring of 2001, I applied at the library on the main campus of the University of Detroit Mercy.  By early Summer I was working there, back on the site of my college days, from age 17 to 21.  I did a lot of living between that time and now..

Yet I finally had a good job!  It’s my first union job and I was excited about that.   It’s been better pay and better benefits, as expected.

As per the format of this, I’m not really naming many names.  Eventually I’ll do a related post where I’ll do that.  Still I need to appreciate my primary superiors.  Betty Nelson taught me the ropes.  George Libbey is always ready to talk.  Dean Margaret Auer was wonderful to work with.  She stepped down last year and will be retiring from the University completely very soon.  She’s amazing.  The new Dean, Jennifer Dean is off to a fine start.

Aside from them, there are thirty or forty wonderful people I’ve worked with.  Most of them I’m still working with.  Some, I worked with directly.  Others are in other departments, but we get along.  I’m always glad to see them.  It’s a great team and feels like a family of sorts.  There are some surprising people, talents and personalities.  It’s a very good group and I’m proud to be part of it.

2009, the old check-out desk, in its last days.

It’s good to be part of the university community.  I do what I can to support and assist the faculty and the librarians.  It’s all about providing the best education possible for our students and giving them a good environment.

One of my main jobs is to work at the book check-out desk.  We had a very nice one (above) which came with the building.  In 2009, it was torn down and a new desk was built, closer to the entrance and exit doors.

Working in retail helped me to develop my people skills.  You have to deal with polite and friendly people as well as grouchy or upset people and everything in between.  This has served me well over the years, though it’s rare that I need to calm someone down or prevent an argument.

July 2012, putting in new windows on the first floor.

My other duties include some computer work, including putting items on reserve.  I didn’t know a lot when I first started so I developed my computer skills on the job.  Later, I also started doing more scanning and processing images.

I get to do most of the book repairs.  This is sort of fun for me, like solving a puzzle.  My hands get covered with glue.  There’s a real art and science to this.  You really get to know how books are made and what can go wrong with them.

Early on, I was entrusted with some of the lobby exhibits.  I’ve installed a great many interesting shows. 

I do various other jobs as well.  You have to improvise and be able to think on your feet.  I work most Saturdays.  Early on, I had to work late nights.   A few days a week, I’d work until 10pm.  The bus system was usually so bad I wouldn’t get home until after 11pm, sometimes closer to midnight.

My desk and work area, 2009.

I was at the library on September 11, 2001.  That day set the tone for much of the next few years.

We do our work day-to-day, yet the reality of our own lives and the life of the world always enter into it.  September through April are the very busy months. There are more classes and more students on campus an it gets very lively.

May through August are mainly the time for special projects.  I try to put together a good exhibit and to work hard on my book repair. Other things always come up too, such as shelf shifting projects and construction work. Things grow and change and there’s always something to do at a library.

In May 2003, I had two simultaneous one person art exhibits.  One of them was at the library.  The other one, Art Therapy for a Sick World was at the Zeitgeist art space on Michigan.  A lot of my co-workers came out to see my work and my performances there, on the opening night.

The Bargman Room on the second floor of the library, at closing time.

Over the years we’ve done so much.  We closed the Detroit Mercy Outer Drive library. and we opened a dental library at the dental school campus. We totally reconfigured the first floor at the McNichols and Livernois campus, where I work.  There are all sorts of other projects as well..

One other job that I do here is to maintain and update The Maurice Greenia, Jr. Collections, a webpage of my art, photographs and poetry. It’s an interesting process.  I’d like to thank the aforementioned for their support on this.  Special thanks go to Margaret Auer for believing in the quality of my work and that it should be more widely seen. Thanks to Sara Martin, who helped a lot early on and to Linda Papa helped teach me what to do and what not to do.

I hope to stay here for awhile.  Eventually I’ll retire and make art and write full time.  That’s always been my second job thus  I have my day job and my night job.  Together, they both keep me busy.

April 2017. The back view of the library and an empty fountain.

The University of Detroit Mercy Library’s home page:

The Library’s Special Collections:

You can click on the photos to enlarge them, then hit the backspace key to get back to this post.


2 Responses to “Work History, Part Three”

  1. Jon Whitener Says:

    Maurice, this isn’t just an interesting review of your working life, but of the life of Detroit. Thanks!

  2. E.J. Pordon Says:

    Maurice, I really enjoyed your posts. You have had interesting jobs and an interesting life. The greatest blessing in your life, aside from your creative abilities, is your kind and loving family. Not all families stick together the way yours does. (I wish I had a brother who would come over and clean out my attic!)

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