In a few weeks, several staff members from Popejoy Hall will move to new quarters. At Popejoy, which was never built for a staff of more than half a dozen, we push coat rooms and closets into service as offices. In our new home, a converted house on Sigma Chi, we will repurpose bedrooms and dining rooms to that end.
Our move, while a plus for us, will provide an imposition for others.
One of the first things you notice when you walk in the door of our new space is the vast number of cockroach corpses littering the floors. Obviously, the UNM Environmental Services staff has done its job of pest control, but that also means we’ll have to be ever vigilant for the many cockroaches who avoided the lethal sprays. They apparently think of the space as theirs, not ours.
The same holds true for the black widow spiders whose jumbled webs gleam in the morning sun at the various junctures of architectural fixtures. We will certainly battle them for occupancy, too.
The other resident who will need to find a new space is, apparently, a homeless individual who uses the forlorn couch left on the front porch as a bed. I have far more mixed feelings about pre-empting this person’s homesteading.
Some might say that the cockroaches and spiders have as much right to the space as humans, and they may be right, but I have far more empathy for a human whose quarters I will claim than any insect’s.
You might suggest that we needn’t dispossess the homeless person on the porch, that we could co-exist. If we left the couch where it is, they could occupy the space at night while we’re all in our own homes.
But what time at night? Some of us work late. Can we guarantee the safety of those employees leaving the building after dark? That has to be my primary concern.
So how do we tell the person who surfs this couch that it will not be there much longer? Construction could start in a few days. When it does, the couch could be thrown on a truck and taken to the dump. That night, our homeless tenant would return to no home. Again.
Maybe I’m getting carried away. Maybe I shouldn’t worry so much. Maybe I’m being too empathetic.
But isn’t that what the arts teach us? That we are all connected, one to another? Should I ignore the teachings of my profession?
What would you do?
Terry S. Davis