Arts & Culture » Culture

Graveyard shift

comment

Suzanne Baumann likes to describe herself as a career temp worker. Graduating from Kalamazoo College with an art degree, she's had about 50 jobs since, including a well-paying stint in design at K-Mart's children's clothing department and a one-time gig illustrating Metro Times' astrology column. But possibly the most serious eyebrow-raiser in the collection was her first job out of school: headstone design. At Inch Memorials in Northville, she worked for three months putting names on tombstones.

"In the back there was a workshop with slabs of marble. You could smell the stone from up front, where I worked on computers for the design process." Sometimes she'd work on custom pieces, like a request for an elaborate scene for a deceased husband, featuring a photo of his pooch and a pheasant he'd shot and stuffed.

She liked the work. There was a discipline to it. Design outlines made too wide would pick up dirt, so strict guidelines had to be followed. She learned from the job, but she didn't have goals in the memorial business. She says, "I knew what sort of adult I wanted to be, but I didn't define that as a job."

Baumann, who lives in Hamtramck, continues to take on temp jobs while working as a cartoonist for the last 15 years, self-publishing comics. None of the other jobs have seemed quite so odd as the first.

Cherri Buijk is a Metro Times editorial intern. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

Tags

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.