Hump Day: Moving day offers life lesson on perspectives

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Today being the last day of the month, you’ll likely be seeing many moving and pick-up trucks full of furniture on the roads. Having moved many times throughout my student years and adult working life before buying a house 11 years ago, I feel the pain of those who – by choice or by force – are moving to new living quarters.

Not that anyone loves it, but I truly hate moving. While there are certainly benefits – like having an opportunity to purge a lot of stuff you don’t need – it’s also an exhausting exercise, both mentally and physically, as I reminded myself last weekend when I helped my son move back to Moncton from Halifax after completing his university degree. Being a poor university graduate, it was time to move home to get a job and start paying some debt.

I’m far from being an athlete, but the sheer physical demands of heavy lifting, loading a truck and making sure everything fit correctly tried my brain and body. Since I drove the rental truck, as well, there was also the stress of getting a big truck to Halifax and back in one piece. One way empty. The other way jam-packed full and heavy.

Let’s just say that I drove over a few curbs in downtown Halifax as I turned down narrow city streets. And don’t even get me started about getting stuck in the impossibly-small-for-a-moving-truck parking lot of the apartment building my son lived in.

Not thinking I’d have any problem turning around to manoeuvre myself into a proper position for loading the truck, I found myself wedged into a corner where I could not move. In fact, I was so close to another van that I could literally stick my arm out the window and touch it. Not good.

Now, if you’re used to driving a truck as large as this one was, you’re probably just thinking that I should have “used my mirrors” to figure it out. Yeah, right! I might as well have been blindfolded. Not being used to the vehicle, I was a menace, to say the least, especially in a tight and cramped parking lot full of other vehicles. It wasn’t pretty.

As my son guided me from outside the truck by waving and screaming like a crazed traffic cop, I slowly but surely got turned around in the right direction, much to the relief of my nerves and my son’s vocal cords. We hadn’t even loaded one box on the truck yet and we were both ready to either kill each other or crawl into our respective corners for big ol’ ugly man-cries complete with mascara-stained cheeks.

Because one thoughtless tenant who was moving out decided to usurp an elevator that had already been reserved (reservations are required on days when there are many moves either in or out), several others – including my son – were backed up hopelessly. The tenant in question even blocked the loading bay for over an hour with his truck as other people mulled around trying to find out who they were. The apartment building had more than 20 stories, so finding the tenant was like finding a needle in a haystack.

Eventually, the tenant showed up and nonchalantly moved his truck to another part of the parking lot as others glared angrily – me, especially. It drives me crazy when people do stuff like that.

Anyway, we eventually got everything packed. There was room for one more item – a mini-fridge, and that was it! We got on the road, both of us sweaty, exhausted and sore, and started the trek back to Moncton. I just hoped I’d stay awake as my eyelids were getting heavy. We were hitting the 12th hour of a busy day and still had another three or four hours of travel and unloading ahead of us.

We stopped for gas, got a bite to heat and I dunked my head in a vat of coffee, hoping the caffeine would seep into my skin. A few hours later, we finally made it home and once again, he guided me as I backed into the driveway until he yelled that I was going to take out the power lines to the house because the truck was so high. That’s all I needed! I called one the kids down the street and he was able to help us unload the truck. Thankfully, this only took about 45 minutes.

“Do you still hate moving?” my son asked me. “Oh yes,” I replied. “More than ever!” The last three times I moved, I hired movers – and I didn’t care how much it cost!

While I was waiting for my son to bring down the final items to the truck in Halifax, I saw a teenage boy drive up to the building on an old bicycle. He was badly in need of a change of clothes and probably a shower. I’d say he was about 16.

He dropped his bicycle and went inside the building’s garbage area and started rummaging through the bags. At first, I thought he was looking for something to eat, but soon discovered that he was looking for beverage containers that he could return for a refund. He collected a garbage bag of containers and was on this way. He looked at me as he drove away. I wondered what his life was like. It couldn’t be easy.

So while I was whining about moving, I had to remind myself that when all was said and done, I had a nice place to live. My son had a nice place to live. And when either my son or I say he’s moving home because he needs to save some money, he’s far from “poor” compared to some people. While rummaging through the garbage for bottles, that boy probably looked inside the full moving truck and thought my son was rich.

Perspective is a funny thing.

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