$8.60 – $9.80

Brian Merlos
(SHAY SPANIOLA/Daily)
Brian Merlos
(SHAY SPANIOLA/Daily)

Motor Vehicle Operator:

Instead of opting for a cushy clerk position that an MCard-swiping squirrel could do, LSA junior Richard Caneba decided to take a more active work-study job.

Have you just recently realized we’re in the midst of a China theme semester after reading a banner on a light post? Thank Caneba.

Being a “motor vehicle operator,” does in fact involve operating a motor vehicle. But Caneba’s real job is to decorate campus with banners and displays advertising University events, and to avoid hitting pedestrians on sidewalks in the process.

“We’ll be driving around in the middle of the Diag going through the sidewalks essentially trying to dodge pedestrians without hitting anyone,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to not have any accidents, so that’s a good thing.”

Possibly to avoid such accidents, or to surprise campus with a dazzling new banner display come sunrise, Caneba’s job requires the occasional late-night shift.

“The hours can be kind of funny,” he said. “Sometimes we have to do banners at night, like 9 or 10 p.m. It’ll be the middle of January and be 5 or 10 degrees outside, and you’ll see us out in the Diag pulling things down and posting things up.”

Aside from dealing with odd hours and Michigan’s perilous winter climate, Caneba often puts his life on the line in order to inform students of the next Umix event.

“A lot of times we’ll drive out and need to get wires down, so it ends up being me who climbs up there, because I’m the short one and I like to climb stuff,” Caneba said. “I end up climbing poles which is really dangerous in the winter, and I probably shouldn’t be doing that. My insurance company would throw fits if they saw me doing it.”

Although there are definitely easier work-study jobs available, Caneba maintains his is one of the most fun.

“It’s a cool job because where else are you going to get the chance to drive a van down the sidewalk legally?” he said. “Well, maybe not legally but we haven’t been pulled over yet.”

Cue tipper:

$7.15 – $8.00 plus tips

With a title like ‘cue-tipper,’ Engineering junior Jeff Conley’s work-study job sounds like it would entail the hospital handling cotton swabs and strangers’ ear wax.

He actually deals with the maintenance of pool cues and tables at the Michigan Union Billiards and Game Room, monitoring wear and tear, re-tipping cues and occasionally making house calls to fix malfunctioning tables in students’ homes.

“When a table breaks down I fix that,” Conley said. “The only maintenance for tables is re-clothing. We sometimes go to other places like people’s house and fix their tables. As for the cues, I just refinish the cues because we don’t have a lathe or anything to make them.”

Despite its place in the Union, Conley’s workplace, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary last year, maintains some aspects of smoke-hazed pool halls from by-gone eras.

“I’ve seen guys gambling $500 sets,” Conley said. “A guy named Port Huron Phil started coming over the summer and was looking to play some one-pocket, cheap $50 games. He ended up playing this one guy and cleaned him out.”

Pool hustling sometimes takes on a less cordial character. The billiards room’s regulars can get a little too excited over friendly games.

“One time a cue was thrown across State Street out our window,” Conley said. “He threw it like a javelin. Afterward he said he was in track-and-field. We made him pay for the cue tip.”

A self-described pool enthusiast, Conley believes he’s landed the perfect college job.

“I love to play pool and I get free table time,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of negatives.”

Fire Extinguisher Tester:

$9 – $11

In light of last week’s house fire on Church Street, LSA junior Eric Garnick’s work-study job is more important than ever. Garnick works as a fire extinguisher tester, making sure that the University’s equipment is able to snuff out at any small blaze if needed.

“I walk around to a given building on my list, and then check to make sure the extinguisher is in good working condition,” Garnick said. “It’s pretty much a visual inspection that’s done monthly.”

His monthly assessments take him to every nook and cranny of campus, some of which – especially trips to labs and medical buildings – expose Garnick to places he wishes he hadn’t been.

“One time I was going into a lab and I was inspecting an extinguisher and there was a box under the extinguisher, which I didn’t really look at,” Garnick said. “But then I looked down, and there was a mouse sitting in it with the top of his head cut off with electrodes coming out of his exposed brain.”

Ever vigilant to track down a faulty extinguisher, though, Garnick continued examining lab extinguishers despite the threat of witnessing another gruesome experiment.

“Another time I went into a different lab and I saw there were these two guys working on a board,” Garnick said. “I saw a shriveled hand on the other side of the board, and when I went to check the extinguisher on the other side, I saw they were practicing some sort of medical procedure on a severed arm. It was creepy.”

Garnick said his favorite part of the job is in the summer when the extinguishers receive a new supply of water and CO2.

“We go into the parking lot and just spray the water and CO2, which is pretty fun,” Garnick said.

Balloon Coordinator:

$7.50 – $8.65

LSA senior Kristen Gaunt is the “Student Balloon Coordinator” for the University. That’s right, the University of Michigan, in all its stuffy, academic prestige provides a work-study job that you’d expect to find at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

“We have 11-inch latex and Mylar foil balloons with about 1,000 total balloons in stock with different designs,” Gaunt said.

Overseeing the Union’s extensive balloon business, with its staff of 11 regular employees and two trainees, has become a major commitment for Gaunt.

“There’s actually a pretty high demand for balloons on campus,” Gaunt said. “I generally have three or four orders per week. I’m pretty busy because I also confirm orders, let people know we can do orders, and make sure we have staff to do the orders if I can’t handle the orders. I come in a few times a week extra other than my shift.”

Gaunt had initially applied for a clerk position at the Student Organization Resource Center, but after hearing that the balloon coordinator position was open, she immediately nabbed it.

Gaunt loves her job, even though it meant overcoming a latent childhood fear.

“I don’t particularly like balloons popping, which can be a little loud and can catch you off guard,” Gaunt said.

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