Just had an interesting exchange with our young super, I mentioned we are moving and he begged me to leave any unwanted furniture in the apartment. Apparently the building has received numerous tickets because there are people moving off the block literally every single day and the piles of garbage are huge. In the last week I’ve counted at least five separate moving trucks on our street.

Our moving company rep called me earlier to ask if they could add another guy to our team. It’s going to be really hot and he said his crews are exhausted. Working seven days a week. I agreed readily, I field managed a moving company for several months, many years back. I’ve seen guys pass out and slide back down stairs they were ascending with armfuls of boxed dishes etc. Sometimes heat, sometimes hangover, sometimes heroin. I want a clean move.

It got me thinking about movers and how they must be suffering. It’s an insane world where you let a group of mostly smiling and friendly ex-cons into your house to grab your stuff and then hope it makes it across town intact. And I say that with much love to those ex-cons, family and friends. Their lives are desperate, frustrating, and painful. A constant merry-go-round of casual violence, court dates, probation/parole officers, domestic dramas, and weeks lost to intoxicants of all kinds. One crew member on one job, a giant of a man, had to be physically retrieved by the crew every morning from his mother’s front lawn where he slept more often or not.

Fights, theft from customers, thefts from each other, customers ripping you off, crack smoking, cops being called on you by neighbors, employees and customers dorking during lunch breaks, a dresser drawer full of serious sex toys spilling out onto the floor in full view of everyone, skeletons of missing pets found air dried in an attic corner, epic family/divorce fights erupting mid move including physical violence, rattlesnakes, poisonous spiders, wasp’s nests, and clothes dryer ventilation tubes so clogged that you find mouse skeletons in the four to five foot long, six inch diameter “hotdogs” of lint that fall out of the ceiling and break apart when you pull out the tube. And I’m not even including the hoarders, they are a species unto themselves, like the one family who paid us an additional grand to spend all afternoon literally packing boxes they bought from us with empty boxes, used wrapping paper, and piles of newspapers dating back decades. We made a game of it, I won by finding a paper dating back to 1984. This was in 2006. They had a Britta water pitcher in their fridge that had slime sheets growing in it. One crew member flipped on the food disposal in the sink and almost passed out from the stench that exploded out of it. The one customer laughed and said it hadn’t been run in months. Another crew member refused to return to the job because he was certain the owners were “witches” due to the enormous quantity of New Age hexeraii hanging literally everywhere. When we moved the china cabinet in the dining room, I put my hand on top of it to get a grip and found I had stuck my hand in an open can of molasses that happened to be sitting there. No one, including the owners, could account for it.

There were customers who walked around in their underwear….or less. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes indifferently. Customers railed on booze or coke. Or dropping hints about their expansive gun collections and catching thieves. One wealthy McMansion owner burst into tears when I handed her the bill. She told me her husband had left her and her kids hated her and she had to move because the place was empty. Her new house was smaller but still huge, enough for a family of four and to spare. Moves to assisted living communities were always fun, as one client told me when I said goodbye “At least it’s my last move!”

One particular trip through Hell springs to mind. A three day mansion move, tons of huge furniture, and a big crew, like ten guys. After we wrap up, three guys get in the cab of the truck and the rest in the back. Door locked, pitch darkness, laying on moving blankets too tired to talk.

Suddenly the truck begins to lurch and slide at around 40 m.ph. Sheer terror: guys screaming, arms and legs flying around in the dark. The truck slams to a stop and now screaming can be heard from outside. We are locked in because an unlocked truck will get pulled over by the fuzz. We start pounding and yelling but a good five minutes of horror passes before the doors open.

Turns out one of the guys in the cab told the driver he was going to rape his wife when they got back. Driver punches other guy and they struggle, with third guy between them trying to keep them apart. The guy with the mouth, popularly known as “Scary Gary”, a monster of a man, then smashes the windshield with something handy and spider webs it. That’s when the truck came to a halt.

So now the monster is holding the keys and won’t give them up. Screaming and hollering. At one point he punches the side of the 26′ bed truck and it rings like a bell from the impact. As this plays out, two men approach out of the darkness and one slaps me hard on the shoulder, wishing me good luck with my crew of “N-bombs.” in a very unfriendly tone that was directly directed at me. After they melted back into the gloom I asked one of the guys where we are and he told me “We in mutha-f***ing KKK Virginia!” with real terror in his eyes. I snapped, grabbed a metal pipe from the ground, and my 5’7, 150lb. self began to chase and wave the pipe at the 6’10, 250+ lb. monster, screaming threats, to everyone’s surprise. Most of all me.

The monster is now running and dodging but still won’t let go of the keys. I pull out my nuclear option:

“Gary, give me those $&#*$+/#*$ing keys or I’m calling your mother and waking her up!”

The monster immediately dropped the keys and ran off. Everyone piled into the cab or onto the running boards, literally clinging to the side of the truck to avoid sitting in the back, and we crept home along old state roads to avoid the Troopers. The next day we started another big move, everyone averaging around four hours of sleep or so.

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