Thursday, September 08, 2005
Moving other people
My brother and his family are moving from their house a few blocks down the street to a newly-constructed home deep in the forest/countryside. I'm a little unhappy about the fact that they're moving so far away from our mother - their presence nearby always gave me some peace of mind whenever I was away. But it's probably going to be a good thing for them, especially for my nephews.
I took yesterday off to help them move, and for a while it looked like I might need to take tomorrow off too. But we moved a lot of the large stuff yesterday, and they're down to the annoying little things that I wouldn't be much help with beyond saying "Stick all this stuff in this box, and we'll sort it out later." So it looks like they won't need my help after all.
I've moved or helped move a lot of people in my day. At the end of 2002 I helped move my entire department out of our old building and into a newly-built facility inside our main factory. As DVD Asset Manager, the physical responsibility for the well-being of all of our project assets rests on my shoulders, so I had primary responsibility for moving hundreds of storage boxes containing our clients' DVD project assets from one location to the next. For weeks I followed the same routine: pick out boxes from Asset Library, load onto cart, transport to staging area, load onto pallet, wrap with plastic, secure with rope, return cart to Asset Library, repeat. All while still doing my regular job of convincing clients to a) tell me what they want to put on their DVD's, and b) send me the assets they want to put on their DVD's. (You would think that one would follow the other, and that a client who wants to put out a DVD would have a fairly clear idea of what they want to put on it. You would be wrong on both counts.) After a few weeks of this I finally got access to our new storage location and was able to get a truck and some good folks to load, transport, and unload the pallets. (Some of the pallets were so decrepit, and some of the loads so well-wrapped, that the only thing holding the pallet together by the time it reached its final destination was my plastic wrap and rope.) And in the end we still had to pull a late-nighter to jam all of our office stuff, all the little odds and ends that are left over after you've moved all the big heavy obvious stuff, into boxes for the final move to our new offices. My friends can attest that many of these boxes are still sitting in my office area in more or less the same condition as they came up.
I've helped other people move, sometimes multiple times. Once we moved a 5-disc CD changer without removing the CD's first. As someone who at the time worked in the CD industry, I was elected to get them out. I wound up popping the drawer out, turning the unit upside-down, shaking it like an Etch-A-Sketch, closing the drawer again, turning the unit right-side-up, and pulling the drawer out again. It took a while, but I got them all out. Other times there have been couches that have defied us to get them through doorways (much like the couch inexplicably jammed in a stairwell in Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.) I have a reputation for being an excellent Fragile items packer, which is probably a consequence of me being so good at breaking things.
I moved someone once on a beautiful summer day that turned ugly in a few short hours. We wound up in a karate school in a strip mall in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania in the middle of a heavy thunderstorm when one of our friends noticed that the rain had all gone horizontal - a sign that there's a tornado in the area. We quickly sized up our situation: we were in a large open section of a long strip mall, surrounded by mirrors and windows and partition walls, with no basement to retreat to and nothing better than exercise mats to use for cover. If a tornado hit the building we would almost certainly die. The tornado missed us, but it did knock some utility lines onto Route 33, closing the highway south of us. Luckily, we were all headed north.
I was helping a friend move into an ill-fated apartment in the Lincoln Park section of Washington, D.C. when the alternator in her car died while she was on a direct line between the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol building. We quickly ran into various museums looking for a pay phone and an ATM. (This was in the wild and wooly days of the mid-1990's when not everybody had a cell phone on them at all times.) We got out as much money as we could, called a tow truck driver, and waited in the car as many people pointed out to us that we weren't allowed to park where we were.
Yes, I have helped many people move. And someday I will be moving myself, into a house full of bookshelves and little else, and I will have tens of thousands of books that I'll need a little help moving. And when that time comes, I think perhaps I'll be making some phone calls, and gently reminding a few old friends of those funny stories of moving days long, long ago...