By Ken Bradbury
Okay, perhaps Part One bored you. In that case, skip to one of Blake Schnitker’s column. The kid can write and he’s got much better hair than mine. But if you’re interested, I’ve learned a few things about moving, muscles and people in my attempt to pick up 35 years of living and moving it fifteen miles to Jacksonville.
1) Sofas are expandable. No, not when you want to sleep on them, but when you want you move them out your front door. Look, I was there when they delivered the darned thing just a month ago. I saw these two young fellows lift the sofa off their furniture truck, tote it up my front steps then slide it into my living room. And these guys were just kids! Okay, some things expand over time … savings accounts, knowledge, your great aunt’s rear end . . . but what could have made my new sofa inflate to such a point that six strong German farmers couldn’t get it out the door? Were I not Presbyterian I’d have blamed voodoo from the lady down the street. So we remove the screen door, then the wooden behemoth that had served as the house’s front door for the last 110 years. What should have been a three-minute job consumed most of the move and meanwhile the rest of my loading crew was waiting for someone to unlock the front door. Lesson learned: sofas swell.
2) Pianos are heavy. Okay, I knew that. I’d seen Laurel and Hardy try to move one once and it shattered onto the sidewalk, but my moving crew more resembled the Packers on steroids than old movie comics. The crew that showed up at my house that spring morning was able, but youth was not one of their assets. When they bent down to lift my keyboard onto an awaiting trailer, things began to pop … backs, necks, arms, eye sockets … practically everything but the rear end of my great aunt who did not arrive to help that day. The piano-toters consisted of one Methodist, a Lutheran, a Baptist, one lone Pentecostal plus one fellow of undetermined origin. I wanted to cover all the bases in case someone slipped. However, the ghosts of Martin Luther, John Wesley and John the Baptist surely felt their ears burning when the guys made their first attempt at hoisting the thing into the air. It would have been a good day to take full advantage of God’s grace.
3) Labels are unreliable. If you buy the little stickers that guarantee not to adhere permanently to your tables and chairs then the odds of the sticker remaining where you stuck it are thin. In addition to everything I meant to come into my house I now have a nice set of jumper cables, two packing blankets, and someone’s windbreaker, all with my stickers attached.
4) Don’t let your hauling caravan stop at yard sales en route to their destination. This must have been what happened, for I swear I now have things in my house that I’ve never seen in my life . . . three books on World War II bombers . . . a vase from some long-forgotten dynasty . . . a shirt that I’d never wear in public. I mean, I own some weird stuff … a guitar made from a sheep’s stomach, a banjo made from camel feces, and six wedding dresses, but at least I can remember having acquired them. I’m sitting here staring at the birth certificate of a lady born in 1801. Where did it come from? Is she upstairs?
5) When you’re a bachelor and there are twelve capable ladies on the destination end of the haul, don’t even pretend to advise them on where things should go. They know, and their judgment is better than yours. The fact that you’ll never be able to find anything is beside the point. I may be without socks for the next month but at least I’ll have taste.
6) Don’t even pretend that you know what you’re doing. If you’re working with friends as experienced in moving as mine, then you don’t. Swallow your pride and stand aside.
7) And this one was a total surprise to me: Good people have a good time when working at what they believe is a good cause. I had expected some sweat, I had anticipated some strain, and the amount of sheer work in such a project came as no shock. What I hadn’t counted on was the genuinely good time had by all.
Lincoln’s “The better part of man’s life consists of his friendships,” was acted out in person. I should have known that, but that was lesson number eight.