In Praise of Movers

I go for years without thinking of them, then all of a sudden, they are center stage, vital figures in the unfolding drama of a cross-country move. Packing up a household, transporting it 1299 miles, then unloading it isn’t high on most peoples’ ideas for fun. Yet when the circumstances necessitate, you want these unsung heroes in your camp: movers.

They come, apparently, in waves. The first, the estimate person, calmly surveys the chaos of boxes, labels, tape, markers, and oddly angled furniture. He doesn’t bat an eye; he gives a surprisingly accurate guess on the weight. He must be attuned to the  emotional discombobulation of a person in this state of upheaval, and reassures, “you’re doing the tough part: deciding what goes and what stays.” (A process which disintgetrates dramatically in sharp correlation to the dwindly amount of time left.)

Then comes Moving Day, only slightly deterred by 2 feet of snow which shut down the city the day before. At 8:15 am the second wave of saints are shoveling the driveway, maneuvering a monstrous vehicle whose tires spin in the glacial canyons created by unploughed streets. Nothing fazes these guys: they introduce themselves courteously, shake hands with the shell-shocked homeowner, and move at whirlwind pace to inventory piles, tag, wrap carefully and load that van.

It’s a logistical nightmare, keeping my laundry baskets separate from someone else’s grill, the leaf for my table distinct from the leaf for someone else’s. But amazingly enough, after some delay, the third wave arrives: bringing it intact! My Stuff! It feels wonderfully familiar to see my couch in the rented living room, my pictures hanging on the walls. Despite unwieldly loads, monstrously heavy china cabinets and torturously narrow curves, stairs and hallways, the movers remain friendly and calm. When a piece fits perfectly into a designated space (sheer luck—no time to measure ahead), they exult, “Just like the movies!” and share my excitement.

After they drop my load, they’ll proceed to two more locations, until late at night, the van is finally empty. Then they face a long drive back. They will probably repeat this routine hundreds of times this month, and some have done this work over 20 years. I know: there are probably legitimate complaints about sleazy movers but I don’t want to hear them. I’m too busy being grateful and trying to decide: the armchair in this corner or that?

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