One day, I was doing what all writers do when they sit down to write: scrolling through my news feed on Facebook. My friend, Daniel Ferris, had posted something like, “I am bored and feel like it’s time to do what any self-indulgent liberal arts major with too much free time on his hands does: Start a blog.” It felt like a total slap in the face, but I decided to let it go once I realized that Dan would be the perfect guest columnist for the site. I asked and was grateful when Dan turned in this piece about the day he worked for a moving company.
Dan did end up starting that blog and you can check it out at http://danferris10.tumblr.com/.
Odd Job: Moving
As is so often the case with really bad ideas, this all started in a college dining hall. Winter was starting to let go of its stranglehold, and Vermont’s version of Spring (mud season) was just around the corner. My friends and I were finishing up Sodexho Catering’s surrealist interpretation of Mexican cuisine when my friend Andy’s cell phone began vibrating itself off the table.
Let’s pause here to describe Andy.
Andy stands at a towering 6’4”, was a power-forward in hockey, and has been known to routinely rip phone books in half. Clear enough picture? Good, we can proceed.
He caught the phone, interrupting its vibration-induced, suicidal plunge toward the cafeteria floor, and looked at the caller ID with surprise.
Winston was one of those people we had met at the beginning of Freshman year, when social circles were fluid and you called everyone “dude,” not because you were trying to sound like Keanu Reeves, but because you didn’t remember their name. He didn’t play an active part in our lives these days, but he was a nice enough guy. I didn’t pay attention to the conversation, until suddenly Andy was handing the phone to me.
I gave a tentative “hello?”
“Hey Dan, how would you like to make some quick money?”
I paused here and flashed quickly through all my encounters with Winston, trying to remember any evidence of activities with federally mandated minimum sentences. Drug smuggling? Human trafficking? Underground dog fighting? He seemed clean in my memory, so I answered.
He went on to describe the job, which was thankfully devoid of criminal implications. His friend’s family ran a moving company, and needed an extra hand for the day. Winston wasn’t available, and Andy had a prior engagement, so I was next in line.
“Winston, have you met me?” I asked.
Let’s pause now to describe me. At the time I was 6’0 and 130 pounds. Soaking wet. The only physical activities I participated in were ultimate frisbee and racquetball, neither of which added bulk to my freakishly wiry frame. Nevertheless, he assured me I would be completely capable of performing my duties without embarrassment or harm being visited upon by person.
This was, put bluntly, bullshit.
The day of the move, I stood waiting at the predetermined meeting point. An old Taurus pulled up, and a young woman, who would be my partner for the day, hopped out.
Let’s take another descriptive interlude. My employer and coworker, Andrea, was roughly 5’5, and looked about as much like a professional mover as I did.
We sized each other up incredulously, and I ran through the many ways in which the wheels could come off the wagon with this job. I imagine we both were thinking the same thing:
Despite the obvious problems with this scenario, she decided not to fire me, perhaps holding out hope that untold muscles secretly lurked beneath my hoodie. She filled me in on the drive over. Luckily, we were only moving things into the house from an already-packed truck. The truck was not gigantic, and it was parked right outside the house. For a brief period of time, I convinced myself this would be easy.
Then we got there.
I came upon the uneasy realization that this woman, who resembled the female version of Jerry Garcia, as only Vermonters can, had accidentally packed a furniture warehouse in her moving truck. And this was no lightweight, Ikea furniture either. It was all crafted out of impossibly heavy-duty wood, culled, I can only imagine, from the alien forests of Endor after a protracted conflict with the Ewoks. As my diminutive companion and I strained muscles that I did not even know existed, I began to think that this had been some kind of elaborate plot. Winston was going to pop out of the bushes with Ashton Kutcher any moment. But no cameras or game-show hosts arrived.
The feminine Jerry Garcia watched us with a very strange expression on her face. A mix of awe, consternation, silent disapproval, exasperation to the point of indifference, and just a wee bit of pride in the human race. Andrea and I carried things we should not have been able to carry. We bent the space-time continuum getting a sofa through the small door, and we slapped Isaac Newton in his ugly face in the process of getting a bed frame up a set of stairs so steep and narrow it had to have been designed for Keebler Elves.
When all was said and done, I felt like a victim in a Saw movie. The muscles in my arms were not just sore, they felt stretched. My back felt like Bruce Lee had mistaken it for his punching bag, then realized it was my back and decided to punch it some more anyway. Jerry Gar-She-a, who had just witnessed this absurd display of self-destruction masquerading as endurance, took pity and tipped us both $20. Combined with my hourly wage, this brought the grand total to $60.
Being a sophomore in college, I of course invested it wisely in a non-volatile stock with a decent yield and a dividend reinvestment plan.
Alcohol. I bought alcohol.
This is the part where I usually say, “In some but not all articles, names or identifying characteristics or individual lines of dialogue have been changed to protect identities or because remembering exactly how things happened is hard. But in every case, an effort was made to maintain the integrity of these events that did indeed actually happen.” But, in this case, somebody else wrote the article. So I guess all bets are off.
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