No, I don’t want to help you move

When someone asks me to help them move, my answer is always the same: “You’re not coming in very clear on my cell phone. I’m driving through a tunnel right now.” But that trick doesn’t always work, especially when they’re asking you in person.

The call from my dad came mid-week: “Can you help us move your great-aunt this weekend?”

Naturally I told him I was sick. But unlike every other time I’ve used this technique to get out of helping someone in need, this time I really was sick.

I’m not exactly sure what it was, but it may have been the swine flu. All I know it that I’ve spent most of last week playing in mud and avoiding bacon.

Back to my dad, who tried playing the guilt card by asking me if I was going force an 88-year-old woman to move heavy couches all by herself.

I pointed out to him that several scientific studies have shown that exercise is good for the elderly.

But he was pretty persuasive, in the same way the New York Gambino Syndicate is persuasive in getting you to pay back a gambling debt.

So I showed up on moving day because, really, it is important to be there for your family. Plus they promised free beer.

That’s sort of the unwritten law of moving: You spend your weekend in back-breaking hard labor in return for a couple dollars worth of fermented barley. Pizza if you’re good, and don’t break too much stuff.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I got there and discovered all they had was Bud Light.

I’m no beer diva, but asking someone to load furniture in exchange for Bud Light could probably be considered inhumane and a violation of fundamental human rights.

At least I think so. The lady I spoke with at Amnesty International didn’t seem to think it was that big a deal.

Nevertheless, we began loading the moving van with an endless parade of boxes. You might be surprised at what a person can accumulate in 88 years. I know I was shocked as hell.

I love my great-aunt, but like a lot of people who experienced the scarcity of the Great Depression, she has kept every single thing she’s ever owned. Or touched.

I’m not one to judge the value of one’s belongings, I just wonder how often she peruses through that copy of the Redlands Irrigation Water District’s 1991 annual report.

And I’ve found that the longer you load up stuff into the moving van, the more you start to despise every item you’re moving.

The value of a belonging decreases proportionally to how long you’ve been hauling things. Even when you’re moving your own stuff.

For example in the first hour of moving:

You: “Hey! Don’t throw that way.”

Helper: “It’s a dirty sock with a hole in it.”

Eighth hour of moving:

Helper: “Are we taking this to your new house?”

You (Bleary-eyed): “That antique set of china that came over with my ancestors on the Mayflower? Nah. No room.”

Eventually of course, we filled up the moving van with boxes of the important items and moved all the boxes of junk out to the trash.

Or vice-versa. It got sort of hectic there for awhile, so things may have been misplaced.

We’ll know in a few days, when my great-aunt opens a box to retrieve her favorite blouse and instead finds a rusted out carburetor from a 1962 Buick Electra.

But by that time she’ll be 1,000 miles away in her new home in California and therefore unable to smack me over the head with large print version of Reader’s Digest.

So she’ll probably call me, politely asking about her missing boxes.

I’ll apologize profusely of course. Right before I drive through a tunnel.


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