Every move has its stories. Ours are no different. The last time we moved, the entire trip was a whopping 7 km long, cost us $1500 to hire a crew, who turned out to be prison buddies, and we were extorted in our driveway before the truck was unloaded. This time we decided that rather than hiring professional criminals to complete the move (Did I mention they tied our clothes to the back of the truck, and drove through town with the boxes bouncing around on the tailgate?) we would do things ourselves. Sort of.
In the weeks preceding our move, SWMBO and I worked hard to pack everything we could, then 10 days before blastoff I put a call out to a couple local congregations, and asked the pastors for referrals of a family in need who I could pay $100 to lend a hand loading and unloading the truck we rented from Penske. We always rent from Penske. Penske has never let us down, unlike some other companies who I need not mention (I hate you U-Haul.)
On moving day I picked up the truck from the Penske depot a block away from my office, drove it home and met our helper. What a helper he was. This guy was used to hard work and wasn’t afraid of it. In 3 hours we had humped everything we owned out onto the truck and loaded it. We had moved a piano and solid oak furniture. Lugged the beds and tools and dishes. With the two of us loading, and SWMBO and Chuck providing childcare, and box-lugging support where possible, we had the whole job done in record time. Things were looking good. Better help was never had.
We spent the night sleeping on the floor, ready to drive to our new home the next morning.
The paperwork was delayed on moving day (isn’t it always??) so we didn’t get possession of the house until later than we would have liked. But when we did the place was spotless and we were able to start unloading right away. A quick call went to the family referred to by the pastor on the unloading end of the trip and we were told that our helper was out, but would be home soon. He would call us back.
We began unloading the truck. SWMBO’s parents arrived to lend a hand. Chuck helped, even the little guys helped. Things were rolling along quickly, but the big stuff – the stuff I needed my hired helper to move were sitting while everyone got tired working in the heat of the day. After the truck was about 30% empty the helper arrived.
The piano was the first thing off after he got here. At 20 years old or so, and lanky and lean, my helper struggled to keep up with me in unloading the piano. I used the hydraulics on the truck to get the piano to ground level and a dolly to get it to the front door. Now I needed my helper’s muscle.
I lifted, he pivoted, and whined. It was too much for him to push. SWMBO’s dad stepped in and tried to help, but he is not the young, strong guy I had asked for to help me. I lifted and dragged. The kid made a feeble attempt at the other end of the piano. Things were not going well.
We eventually got the piano into the house. The gouges across the travertine tile floor show where the piano should have been lifted by both people, but by that time I didn’t care anymore. I needed the piano to move, and I didn’t have the manpower I had hoped for. All’s well that ends.
As we continued to unload the truck, I would put all the boxes labeled ‘Heavy’ in front of the helper, and he would step aside and pick something else. It got to be almost funny that I had 2 retirees carrying our heaviest possessions in the house while this guy who was getting paid to be my muscle would sidestep them.
Things came to a head when he dropped our sideboard on the tile floor. I mean the travertine had taken a beating from the piano already, but it was nice. A nicer floor than we would have paid to put in, and I kind of wanted to keep it that way. And this oak sideboard is heavy; I mean it’s a custom piece of solid oak furniture, handmade to fit a space, and costing more than any other single piece of furniture we own.
After the kid dropped it on the floor, I man-handled the sideboard into the dining room, parked it in place, gave the kid his money and told him I’d manage the rest without him. He left. We all took a collective sigh of relief. Unloading went far better once he was gone.
Late in the afternoon we had the truck empty, all our stuff in the house, and we were moved in. More or less. Beds got assembled, dishes put away, a bottle of wine uncorked, and pizza brought in – or was it Swiss Chalet? I forget. In any case we were moved in just enough that we forgot about the mess surrounding us, returned his truck to Mr. Penske, and relaxed. We needed it. The next day would be spent unpacking.