Two Dope Smokers and a Truck – The Move to Cleveland

As always with moving, it was controlled chaos. But as moves go, this one went relatively smooth. The two dope-smokers from the moving company showed up on time and we managed to get everything loaded.

I had great help from Lisa, Larry, Terri and Shannon (drinkers–not dopers). Amazing that at our age, everyone shows up without even being asked, to help load and unload. I am blessed with an amazing family and group of loving friends.

Friday night, Lisa and I packed the Mandela art prints in bubble wrap and finished a few last minute things. Since the buyers financing fell through, we started showing the house again and two people came through to look. Both made offers the next day and the first offer, a sweet older lady, is the one I accepted.

We got the truck fully loaded by around noon and hit the road. I rode in the big truck with the mover guy. This is an interesting being—the moving man. I have moved more times than probably any random 5 people combined. I’ve lived on four continents and in more states than most people have visited. I know a thing or two about moving and moving men.

I always hire a couple of local guys to help. They are without exception, of similar characteristics. Nearly always nice, but with a hard luck story to tell. Good workers for the most part–getting things in and out of the truck as quickly as possible. In this move, my main guy was Brandon. He was tall and skinny with tattoos and a hoodie. He made it known to me that he was the crew chief and was the leader of the pack of two. He is the guy who I should pay. One-half due before they start loading. Cash. And the balance due when they were done unloading. Cash. This discussion, which I had pre-negotiated with the boss, was repeated in somber tones inside my garage. Brandon looked like a boxer. The give-away was his permanently swollen knuckles. It was cold and he could not close his fists. When I asked he confirmed he boxed for 10 years; Golden Gloves at some local gym. Now his hands were useless until they warmed.

Tips, he informed me, were much appreciated but purely optional. His delivery of this line was polished to the point where I heard him say the word optional but I did not believe it for a second. Tips were expected. On the 2.5 hour drive from Columbus to Cleveland, he reminded me at least a few times that in their line of work, the pay scale was such that they relied heavily on tips. He, I soon became aware, was two days late on his rent payment and had a $95/day penalty. He owed $65 for his cell phone (not a luxury because without a working cell phone he could not get calls from his boss informing him of moves) and, interestingly, when he got back to Columbus he was going to have to pay $22 for his sons’ day care. That sounded remarkably low to me. $22 for 9-hours of day care? Was his son being raised by a she-wolf? Hopefully the kid (2 years old) was okay.

Brandon had woman problems, which he was happy to share. The mother of his child was the sister of his boss, the guy I organized the move with, but they were not getting along well. And, they all shared an apartment. Brandon had multiple stories of his bad luck. Someone stole his wallet recently. Another guy hired him to do some drywall work but then stole all his tools and so he could no longer do construction work until he figured out how to get his tools back. No word on why his tools were stolen. He was now secretly seeing another girl on the side but hoped the mother of his child and his boss did not find out because he was afraid he would lose his job.

I sometimes feel my life is a little complicated–but my life is in fact remarkably simple compared to movers.

Anyway, both Brandon and Eric were nice enough guys and did a good job. Eric’s girlfriend drove him to my house and she sat in the car while we loaded, followed us to Cleveland, and she was their ride back to Columbus. I put $20 gas in her car and bought everyone some beef jerky and sodas for the ride.

Total payout to the movers was $750 for the move or around $83/hour for both. I have no idea what the owner’s take is but if I assume he kept at least 50% then each of the moving guys would have received $187 for the move plus the $100 each I gave them for a tip. So $287 for 9 hours or $31/hour. Cash. Of the 9 hours, around 5 were in the car and 4 loading/unloading. It is a tough business. Most moves are on weekends and most only take a couple of hours and so they don’t make as much money. People cancel unexpectedly or some other issue comes up and cancels a job. if they are sick or get hurt they don’t work. Most have kids and/or relationship issues which are felt keenly enough that they are comfortable sharing with a stranger. I have a certain appreciation for this sort of man. They are people caught up in tough circumstances and living on the margins. Surely their situations are in whole or in part a result of poor choices. But who among us has not made some bad decisions?

And most of these fellas probably started out in a tough spot and were not given the resources or support or guidance to learn how to get out of the hole they were born in. It reminds me of how lucky I was to have such a stable, loving, and nurturing family.

On the drive up, Lisa drove my car. In the passenger seat were Mandela’s ashes, her paw print in plaster, and her leash. She was riding in her normal spot. And that make me both sad and happy at the same time.

The family did an amazing job on unpacking the essentials. Within a couple of hours of arriving in Cleveland, Lisa, Terri and Shannon had the kitchen unpacked and beer was cold. My realtor dropped off some more beer and Jimmy John sandwiches. Larry and I took the U-Haul truck back. I drove the truck and when I put the U-Haul address into my phone GPS, it somehow defaulted to my work address. So we drove 25 minutes to Beachwood before I figured out the problem and we turned around and drove 25 minutes back. Dropped off the U-Haul and found a terrific butcher not far from the house and we bought some green tomatoes, mushrooms and lovely bone-in ribeyes.

We had some drinks and chatted and discussed all the cool design ideas I needed to implement to make the house perfect. Just as we started dinner, the power started flickering and then went out. It was windy outside and then started raining. Like the champions we are, I fired up the big green egg and we cooked the steaks and fried the green tomatoes outside in the rain. Larry even made a mushroom peppercorn sauce for the steaks. We had a single flashlight and a candle Terri and Shannon had given me as part of my move-in present. A neighbor noticed our plight and brought over a camping lantern.

Later, we all went to the basement and played bocci ball by flashlight and candle light. There simply is no stopping this family from having fun.

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