Moving the Beast: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Taking It Apart

This past week we helped two of our sons move to new apartments. Now that they’ve moved, we’re moving with the stiff and sore aftermath of walking up and down too many steps while carrying heavy boxes, heavy furniture, and heavy anything else that doesn’t fit into boxes.

When we were younger, somehow moving was easier. Our knees were happier (they didn’t even realize how happy they were — or how unhappy they could be), our arms were stronger, and our backs were able to take it all without whining.

Except for that one move.

After we’d been married three years in Chicago, we decided to move to the farm in Minnesota. We rented a one-way moving truck and arranged with a moving company to have three burly men come load it for us. Living on the second floor, we didn’t have any inclination to move all our stuff down the steps ourselves, especially if we could have burly hired help.

The morning of the move arrived and we got the truck, parked it out in front of the house, and worked on packing the final odds and ends inside while we waited for those burly movers to come.

And waited.

And waited.

When I called the moving company, they told me there was a mix-up but two guys would be there soon.

When I called again, they said there’d been a delay; it wouldn’t be long now.

When I called a third time, they told me oh yeah, they’ll be there. But my BS radar went off. I said, Level with me here. I have a truck out there and it needs loading. If you don’t have guys to send me, just tell me right now because the day is wasting and I need that truck loaded. They said, well no, there is no one coming. Great. Just great.

Jason and I had to get to work. We had an apartment to empty and a truck to load.

The heavy stuff needed to go onto the truck first, so we wrestled the washer and dryer (the ones that Gary didn’t use) out of the basement and up the back steps using a dolly. Then we had the sleeper sofa. Oh the sleeper sofa. Anyone who has ever had to move a sleeper sofa has no doubt cursed the day the inventor of the sleeper sofa was ever born. It was more weight than we wanted to carry all the way out the back and around the whole house, even though the back had bigger open steps, so we decided we’d go straight out the front door, avoiding the distance and all those turns. It started out okay. But have you ever moved one of those monsters?

As it went down our front steps to the entrance door, it got heavier and heavier, and lower and lower. We couldn’t hold it up at the right angle to put that unwieldy peg through that narrow hole at the end of the stairwell. By the time we reached the bottom, the thing was wedged in so tightly, we couldn’t back up, couldn’t lift it, we couldn’t go forward. At the angle it had come to rest at the bottom, it wouldn’t fit through the doorway.

It was about that time that our friend Mary came by to see how progress was. We were easy to find. The big empty truck in the middle of the street and us, stuck at the front door with a sleeper sofa wedged in the doorway.

Mary knew some guys from her violin making school who she thought might want to earn some extra cash, so she said she’d go make some phone calls and try to drum up some movers for us. Meanwhile, we used our problem solving skills and understanding of spatial relations, and we figured out what to do. We only needed about an inch to clear that narrow opening, so we decided to take apart the doorway. By removing the door jamb, which of course required removing the trim first, we could open the doorway by enough space to push that monster through. We finally got the couch out just when our landlord called and asked if he could drop off the check for our deposit return. Oh my gosh! You know the “deposit check”? The one he only gives back if everything — like the front doorway — is in good shape, intact, like when we moved in? We had to scramble! With new energy and motivation, we threw the doorway back together. When he came with the check, we weren’t quite done. We stood just so in front of the door as he shook our hands goodbye and wished us luck, hoping the trim that wasn’t quite reattached yet wouldn’t fall off and hit our landlord in the face.

After an hour or two, three of the skinniest guys you’ve ever seen arrived from Mary’s violin school to empty our apartment into the truck. But I guess it didn’t matter that they weren’t big burly movers. By then, all the heavy stuff was already in the truck.


— Hello! If you’d like to follow me, I’d love the connection with other readers. I blog every day, on a year-long dare. Each day is a different theme, with parenting and kids and writing and history and flash fiction and op eds. I have quadruplets, I’m an editor and writer, and I like to make every subject as interesting or funny or thought provoking as possible. I’d love your support! Thanks!

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Cheri Gillard’s story.