On Moving

I (relatively) recently helped my friend Tom move and it went pretty well, which is to say, neither of us murdered the other with a lamp during the process, which is really the only measure of success.  But it got me thinking about various moves I’ve participated in during my time on earth and the relative ease or hardship I associated with each, and I came up with a list (the internet loves lists, right?)- actually three lists- of what I guess you’d call tips, for the Mover, the Movee, and the Moving Experience.  Behold:

#3201- When Helping Move

Lists be damned, you’ll get the tips in bold, and you’ll like it.  Commit to the move.  If you have some obligation or time constraint, make sure that’s clear to the guy being moved ahead of time.  Think of it like this- if you need two people to help you move, once two people have said yes, you stop looking.  It’s great that you said yes, but if you decide you’ve had enough halfway through and bail, it’s a bit late to find a replacement.  If you don’t want to help someone move, be honest and up front about it.  As much as that seems shitty, it’s a lot better they find someone else who will help until the job is done than have to deal with the blow to their manpower late in the game.
Don’t expect to get paid, and Refuse if they offer.  It’s a social contract among friends, and the guy is already shelling out enough money with all the expenses involved in finding a new place as it is.  Instead, be very comfortable with the idea that Whoever you’ve helped should be your first call when it’s your migration season.  You are sharing an experience with your friend- a test of the bonds of friendship and a little sweat-equity for the nights you’ll spend on his couch drinking his beer, watching his tv.
Come ready to work.  This is pretty self explanatory.  This job isn’t done when the clock hits 5, it’s done when the truck is empty.  Show up and don’t fuck around, your man wants to get moved and everybody participating wants to be done as soon as possible.  Bring your game face and some energy to the endeavor.
Offer to pay for anything you break.  Accidents happen, but part of your commitment to the move is a bit of a guarantee about the service you’ll be able to deliver.  He’s not expecting you to be perfect, but if he’s taking it with him when he goes I’m sure he holds some sort of value to it.  Own your mistakes.
Don’t stop working while he still is.  You’re supposed to be helping him.
For my money, the most important of all Moving Day concepts is this: DON’T GET FRUSTRATED.  This goes back to my idea of committing to the move- worse than not showing up or leaving halfway through is being a whiny fucking asshole that needs to be molly-coddled and have their feelings treated with kid gloves the whole day- you chose to be here.  Much of the day is gonna suck; deal with it like an adult.  Having a Positive Mental Attitude (#19) is vital during arduous situations, and moving is certainly one of them, and one often underestimated.  You’re spending the day with people you care enough about to help them move- try to find a little pleasure in that and hold on to it tight.

#3202- When Getting Help Moving

You’re a relatively normal human male, you probably have several friends, so from among them Choose Carefully who you ask.  As referenced above, have you ever helped someone move?  Yes?  Are they completely useless?  No?  They’re your first call.  I really don’t think I need to go into too specifically what you’re looking for after that, you know your friends better than I.  But again, choose wisely.  And in that same vein, Give people you ask an easy out.  You want people who on some level want to be there, usually only because they love you that much, so make sure when you’re asking you make it easy for the people that want to say no to say no.
Plan ahead, a corollary- Be well supplied.  If you need a truck, rope, blankets, your shit boxed up- get or get it done ahead of time.  Be ready for the moving part of moving- the guys who have volunteered your time didn’t do it to carefully package your Aunt Silvia’s china or you sixteen volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica.  Disassemble what needs to be disassembled, strip your mattress, clear the kitchen cabinets, then call the guys who are going to carry it all to the truck.
Don’t offer to pay.  Unless you’re very well versed in Offering Unexpected Tips (#8128), just accept that you owe the guys who help you one big one.  That being said, You’re buying.  Tonight, tomorrow, this weekend- beers, dinner, something.  Pick up a check.  An easy and logical one is beer and pizza at your new place.  Make sure the beer is cold and the first round is drunk right before the last run, and the pizza arrives when the last load does.
Anything that you’d make someone pay for if it broke- CARRY IT YOURSELF.  Your friends are doing you a favor and shit breaks sometimes.  If it matters that much to you, you carry it.  Otherwise, just be ready to refuse their offer to pay for the damage.
Schedule in some breaks.  10 minutes to recharge or for a coffee or just a seat will pay dividends when you’re getting that last load of books up the stairs, and most guys won’t stop working if you still are.
Speaking of Coffee– supply it.
DON’T GET FRUSTRATED.  Your friends are already doing you the favor of moving you in, the didn’t sign up to deal with you being a whiny fucking asshole that needs to be molly-coddled and have their feelings treated with kid gloves the whole day- you chose to have all this shit.  Much of the day is gonna suck; deal with it like an adult.  Having a Positive Mental Attitude (#19) is vital during arduous situations, and moving is certainly one of them, and one often underestimated.  You’re running this show, it’s important that you stay positive, affable, and flexible.  You’re spending the day with people that care enough about you to help you move- try to find a little pleasure in that and hold on to it tight.
Know when you’re moved in and call it.  This applies both ways- if you’re restocking bookshelves, you’re moved in, and it’s quitting time for your crew (if you’re restocking bookshelves before the truck is empty, you’re an asshole).  If you thank the boys for their time and let them get too many in them with the couch still downstairs, you didn’t Plan ahead.  And once it’s done, food, beer, etc…is a shared experience.  The guys you spent the day with want to share a beer with you, not leave you to start sorting utensils in the dark.  Relax for a minute- part of thanking them for their time is not monetary, but the shared experience of a job done together.

#3200- When Moving

I’m almost not sure what stuff to put here.  I assume that you, my dear readers, have some level of common sense and or will have already partaken in the art of moving house, so do I really need to mention to Take the big stuff first (And yes this applies to unloading- pull the little stuff out and get the couches and bed  and bookcases and concrete slabs upstairs first)?  Do you really need to be reminded to Hydrate?  That it is exhausting and sweaty work and should be treated as such if you’re going to make it the whole day?  And on that note Assume it will take all day because it will, and if it doesn’t, that just means there’s time for unboxing.  But you know that already.  I‘m sure you’ll Work together and when doing so, Communicate.  Because you know that already.  When you two are Working the angles (Pivot!), it’s good to know what the other guy is thinking, if he’s tired, if he’s trying to rotate it or flip it upside-down.  Talk to each other.   And I’m sure you’re aware that you should Be careful.  Things are heavy and you’re both older than you were last time it was moving day.  There’s glass and nails and heavy things and steep stairs.  So Take your time, a few extra trips and you don’t throw out your back is (almost) always better than a few less trips and you do throw out your back.
But you guys knew all of that already, I’m sure.  So here’s my moving day pro tip that you might not know- Saran Wrap.  It’s a godsend on moving day.  Rolls of it- multiple.  Short on rope?  Saran wrap is strong the long way, just twist it up a bit.  Got a bookcase still stocked that weighs less than three hundred pounds?  Saran Wrap those fucking books right in there and carry the whole thing down in one shot.  Saran Wrap your mattress so the rain doesn’t get in, Saran Wrap your fucking couch- what was a prank in college is a godsend on moving day.  Anything with doors on it?  Saran Wrap them shut.  Bottom starting to come out of an overpacked box?   Out of newspaper to wrap your mugs?  Long heavy antique mirror?  Saran…you get the idea.  It’s fucking versatile.  Take advantage of that.  Don’t waste your money on ziploc bags and packing peanuts and bungie cords.  Your answer is in your kitchen drawer.  Just don’t ever Google it, even if you need a picture of saran wrap for your blog post.

Do I expect that if you’ve moved before, you’ve hit on every item here?  No.  As a Mover, I like to think you’re hitting 75%.  As a Movee 50% is a pretty good average, and as a team if you’re doing 5 out of 9 there’s most likely a successful move with the friendship still in tact hidden in the numbers.  Please, please don’t get frustrated- he’s just trying to help, and he’s just trying to get to his new apartment with most of his shit and his dignity.  I’m sure I’ve missed some stuff here so feel free to leave a comment with any additional tips- it’s about giving the best info in this situation.

Good luck.


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