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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Moving Is Easy, Unless It's Your Stuff

A couple months ago, I helped someone move a harpsichord, a secretary (the furniture variety), and a couple other pieces. No big whoop; I've helped, conservatively, in over 100 moves, excluding the 30 or so moves of mine. But he was so appreciative that he sent me a card thanking me.

Let's deal with mine first. "You say 30 moves, really?" Surely, I exaggerate; I do not. And all but one was since I was 18. But I'm getting more settled: 7 years in my current place. Before that 1 year in the house Carol had bought before we met, 4.5 years in an apartment. Before that, mucho moves for all sorts of reasons. Like this guy.

And like many folks, I hate moving my own stuff, for all sorts of psychological reasons.

Moving other people's stuff, however, I love. I love it for a number of reasons:
1) It's good exercise
2) It becomes an interesting anthropological study
3) People are grateful that you're moving their stuff
4) It's not MY stuff

I've helped one guy move six times, so often that my accomplices, Allie and Tom, and I called ourselves RAT Moving (or ART Moving, or TAR Moving). I've helped people I've known two weeks.

But I have rules for moving other people's stuff, having done so at least 80 times:
1) Pick a time. Stick to the time. I want to get there, do it, and leave.
2) The movee (or his/her designee) must be in charge of the move, especially the unloading. I don't care if the movee picks up a single thing as long as that person can say: what goes and what stays when we're in the old place; and where the things go when we're in the new place. One good friend of mine was so distraught about her move, it fell upon a committee of the movers to decide what to do. Yuck.
3) Have extra boxes. Inevitably, the movee thinks he/she is done packing, but forgot the stuff behind a piece of furniture or in a closet or in the refrigerator. Seldom have I been in a situation with too many boxes.
4) Don't pack your books, records and other dense items in large boxes. I may be, as one friend calls her roving moving crew, of "strong backs and small minds", but we're not looking to end up on the disabled list while doing one a favor.
5) Highly recommended: extra packing tape, and markers for labeling boxes (oh, PLEASE, label your boxes so that we don't have to open the boxes and decide what's in them). Bungee ropes can be useful. Once, I helped carry a sofa down a flight of stairs. It turned out to be a sleeper sofa, and the sleeper sofa came out. I kicked the sleeper part back into position, on my back, on the stairwell, and tied the sleeper part with my belt.
6) If possible, contact the authorities about blocking off the moving spaces so we can load and unload at the actual addresses rather than from a half a block away.

(Art from



Anonymous said...

Great set of rules there. I have moved more times then I wish to count, though I am below your number.

And I totally agree with the books rule. Especially hard cover books.

Anonymous said...

We stayed in the same place for 20 years and then moved three times in just over a year.

My mum was really particular about numbering all the boxes and writing down the contents of each. I thought she was being a bit OTT but I know realize that it was the best thing to do.

I hope I don't have to move again too soon, it's not much fun :(

GayProf said...

Moving sucks. I am not keen on moving other people, either.

Anonymous said...

Moving is really such a pain. I've resolved to not move until I can afford to pay someone else to do it.

Diana de Avila said...

Moving is definitely tough and something I am not very good at (the organization part atleast). Thank God I have a partner who knows how to organize and get it done. I just kind of spin around in circles wondering what to move next :) LOL