How To Moving Day

If you had asked me thirty years ago what "Moving Day" was, I most likely would have told you about Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH. It's the day the farmer plows the field and al the little furry creatures need to find somewhere else to be cute for a while.

Half a decade or so later, when my arms were strong enough to carry furniture, Moving Day was like an every six months kind of thing. We were always moving about, and since my dad had the only known truck in Northern California, we were always moving everyone else too.

Dad and I got so good at moving, we hardly had to speak as we trudged large ugly heavy furniture down cornered stairwells and up Uhaul ramps. Jobs that might have taken forever were usually done by lunch. Thank goodness that I learned how to be good at other things cause that would have been a terrible career.

Anyway, a decade or so after that, I was introduced to Davis, California (but it could have been just about any college town) and the chaotic cluster-mess that is the official 'Moving Day' of an entire student body.

The first weekend of September, 10,000 families in UHauls and pick-up trucks descend upon the sleepy little community to move doe-eyed freshman into dorms, sophomore's into apartments, juniors into frat houses, seniors into townhomes, senior plusses back into apartments, and the super lucky families that get to take their children home. When that happens to my step-son, I hope he doesn't mind sharing a bunk bed with a nine year old. And paying rent. And setting fire to all of those Ambercrombe/Fitch outfits that will never shed that particular smell.

You know that smell.

Anyway . . . having fundamentally mastered the skill of transferring a life from one room to the next, and watching in abject horror the undisciplined nonsense of lesser movers, I thought we should dedicate this week's "How To Tuesday" to some fundamental concepts - that if implemented correctly - can turn a tragedy into kind of a nice little family gathering.

Step One: Prepping/Packing/Purging.
This is the responsibilty of the individual(s) being moved. People who fail this first step should just go ahead and find new friends because they will never get a second chance. You're gonna need boxes, packing tape, and Sharpies. Boxes can be had for free at just about every retail establishment on the planet, no excuses. I prefer bookstores, cause their boxes are almost always a uniform shape, are big enough to fit lots of stuff and small enough to carry solo when filled with books. Big boxes should only be used for clothes and bedding.

You can be as anal-retentive as you want at this stage - I've been known to alphabetize my CD collections - and you can take as long as you want. My wife has been known to stop packing all together and spend hours on the floor looking through old photographs.

This is also the time when you absolutely need to throw out half of your stuff.


Accumulation is a disease. But there are some simple rules to this. Clothes: If you haven't worn it in a year, gone. (This does not include weeding dresses or neck ties). Books: If you're not going to read it loan it, sell it on eBay, or if the cover doesn't look cool, gone. Any knickknack that is not currently displayed, gone. Any cookingware with scratches in the teflon, or that you used once when you were on an asian kick, gone. Scented candles, gone.

If you're not sure, gone.

Things that get a pass include: All tools, musical instruments, sporting goods (but not exercise equipment), and beauty supplies (cause that shits expensive.)

Trash . . . I can't bellieve I have to say this . . . gone.

The reason I have to say this is because while moving my step-son this week, I noticed four - count 'em - four nearly empty cereal boxes. Even if you combined the Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, and two boxes of Poppin Fruity Peebles, you couldn't fill an average cereal bowl.

Actually though, in everything else he was pretty stable, so, you know, B+.

So, when the truck arrives at your door, there should be nothing in the place but boxes, dusted furniture, and the coupon for pizza that will be used on Step Five.

Step Two: Four is the Magic Number
That's You, a buddy, and two family members. Two can do alright. Three not much better than two. But with four people, you can empty any room in ten minutes or less. The first group, usually the two family members, who just wanna get her done, and while they're loading, the next two can grab the next big item. Once Group 1 has loaded, they can go get the next thing while Group 2 plays Cargo Tetris. This goes back and forth until truck capacity is filled or the space is empty. The even numbers keeps everyone honest. The third or fifth wheels have a tendency to stand about, check their phones, or - god forbid - try to give direction.

Step Three: The Little Things.
Once the furniture and boxes have been loaded then it is time to stuff all that empty space with the things that couldn't fit in boxes, got missed somehow, or will provide padding when the truck bounces over speed bumps. In a closed space (UHaul, SUV) you can just jam that crap wherever there is space. In an open system, you have to be judicious and careful to tape things down. No one wants to loose a pair of jeans to the gods of the highway.

Step Four: The Unloading.
You can try to plan for this. Go ahead. Be my guest. But the rule of thumb is that anything goes anywhere. That rule has to be modified a bit if your group is a bit too stupid to not know that the kitchen table goes in the dining room and not in the master bedroom, and it is of paramount importance that you keep all walkways clear of debris (a man carrying a leather couch walking backwards up a flight of stairs should not have to negotiate large trash bags filled with winter coats.)

If you are particular about where things go, then hire a moving company. They won't listen to you either, but you won't be uninvited to their fantasy football leagues for being a jackass.

If you followed Step One to the letter, and have friends with at least some college, then there is a pretty good chance (Like 60/40) that the box you labeled "Kitchen Stuff" will end up in the kitchen. But if it doesn't, look at it this way, as soon as everyone has gone home, you have a week's worth of Christmas all to yourself.

Anyway, so the little things that were stuffed in, come out first. Since there is no place to really put them yet, I like to create a neat little pile on the front lawn, otherwise, they are likely to end up in the way in a big way.

Next the big furniture, then the boxes, then the lawn pile. And you're done.

Well, you're not done, but everyone else is.

Step Five: Breaks and Food and Beverages.
Unless you've hired a moving company, then you have to be aware that their are some solid people who love you and are willing to ruin their whole day. You have to be repectful of that.

First, be organized when they arrive. (If you follow Steps 1-4, you will be). They're gonna wanna get to work right away, so be ready for that. Back up the truck and giddy up.

Next, there are three certified break times (This is very important if there are smokers among you). After the trucks are loaded, Arrival at the new destination, When the trucks are empty.

After the trucks are loaded, it's time to assess your crew. If they were fast and efficient and displayed at least a little respect for your grandmother's ashes, then take your final walk through and hustle on down the road. If, however, they were slow, whiny, and confused, that's on you bro. Either you have terrible friends, or you're a terrible leader. As you drive to the new abode, map out the speech you're gonna have to make to show your plan, display strength, and motivate the troups. (See Braveheart, Gladiator, and The Return of the King)

Once at the desitnation, give a walk through tour, let people pee, let the smokers smoke, and order pizza with the coupon you saved from earlier. If you have a wife, this is the best time to send her out for beer.

Ordering pizza: There should be one large for every two people. This ensures an adequate meal for all and most importantly provides you with dinner and possibly breakfast until you find that box of kitchen supplies. Don't get a concensus, just order one cheese and one combo. It's not like vegans have the tensile strength to actually lift things, so there's a good chance there isn't one on your crew.

Once smoking/peeing/and ordering have been done, unload (See step 4). By the time you have finished unloading, the pizza should have arrived, the beer should have arrived, and you should all be talking football and praying that your wife doesn't notice the scratch on the dresser.

But of course she's gonna notice.

Cause there is no god.

Step Six: Specific to college towns.
Earlier the better. College kids sleep late and are slow and unresponsive and have a lot of things going on in their cell phones. If you can get in and out before noon it's smooth sailing.

Keep your distance: Most people don't know how to drive big cars or heavy loads or at all really. Leave plenty of space for yourself, the person in front of you and the person behind you.

Don't block things: Apartment complexes are narrow. Be gracious and willing to walk the extra five feet if it means you're in a reasonable parking spot.

Leave the non essentials at home: I actually saw an entire fleet of mini-vans filled with children and grandparents, all standing around, while poor old dad and his fourteen year old son moved the older sister into an upstairs apartment, while she leaned up against the back of the car and played Candy-Crush on her Samsung Galaxy. The sad part is that the man and his boy could have gotten the whole thing done in about twenty minutes had it not been for the mother yelling out directions in Cantonese.

The grandmother stood in the same place for an hour holding nothing more than a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towels.

If they can't lift a box of books above their heads, then they will add an extra hour to everything. I know that sounds mean, I know that transition is exciting and that the whole family wants to come and see the new place,

but for gosh sakes, this ain't the time.

This is Moving Day.


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