Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Freak Who Helps People Move

The message left on my voicemail was cautious and tentative. An acquaintance of mine, a friend of my sister-in-law's (SIL), was moving this weekend and SIL had insisted that she call me, because, I, uh, like to help people move?

She said this in a tone that suggested someone was playing a practical joke on her. Who actually enjoys moving other people's stuff? Do I volunteer to do their dishes or paint their garage, too?

I called her back and said, "Yep, SIL was absolutely right: I love helping people move."

I don't know if it's a sickness, a fetish, or a calling, but I am the Friend Who Helps People Move. It's how I contribute to society. It's what I do.

The caption for this picture read, "If there's one thing I can't stand, it's helping people move." A common sentiment, and one that I freakishly don't share.


It must have started in college. I remember one weekend when my good friend and his girlfriend were moving into a larger apartment in the same complex. She had to work on Friday and he had to work on Saturday, so I was the only person who was there over the two-day moving process. I put in more hours moving their stuff than the actual people moving did.

Since then I have helped dozens of people move. Some were family members, some were good friends, some were people I worked with, some were friends of friends. Whenever I hear that someone I know is moving, I'm eager to let them know I can help. I will even badger them, "Do you need help? Do you need help? Do you need help?" I get offended if I find out they moved without me.

This is not how I help

Yeah, it's probably a sickness.


I guess my predilection for helping people move starts with the fact that I love moving myself. I come by it honestly-- I've moved about 30 times in my life.

When I explain to people about my fetish for moving, many of them react as if I've just told them some repulsive sexual proclivity, like I like to eat poo or something. What kind of freak actually likes that kind of stress?

I love packing-- going through all of my things, assessing my belongings, weeding out things I no longer need, organizing my shit. I love the physical act of carrying boxes and furniture and loading them efficiently into a truck or car. I love how, as each load is removed, my old dwelling slowly transforms itself from a cluttered living area to an empty and pristine space. I also love the empty canvas of my new place, figuring out the furniture arrangement, and finding the best space for all of my things. Watching it slowly transform itself from a series of empty rooms to my new home.
See how happy they are?

I love recruiting my family and friends to help share in this transitional moment of my life. I love showing off my new place and ordering pizza to reward ourselves for our hard work. I could hire movers, but it's not just about relocating your stuff from one place to another. It's about sharing this moment of your life. Who wants to do that with strangers?

See how scary these professional movers are?

And I guess somehow this love of moving has projected itself into helping others move. I like to share in the energy and excitement of their new adventure.


This has been an unusual week. I've helped two different people move, and neither of them was a good friend or family member. In fact, one of them was a complete stranger, a new hire at my "church" who was moving into town.

The other moving experience was she of the voicemail, the friend of my SIL. I spent most of my Saturday in 90-degree heat doing much of the heavy lifting, since there were only 2-3 of us who could lift the really heavy stuff. There were times when I thought, "This is crazy. Why am I doing this on my day off?" But the thought quickly passed, and I knew it was all worth it when I chowed down on well-earned pizza and got a sweaty hug of abject appreciation from the mover.

I'd earned my karma points for the day.


Some guys who grew up on farms like to take a day off from their desk jobs and tote bales of hay. (Or bale totes of hay, or hay totes of bales. I'm not sure exactly what it means, but manly men like to do it.) I think it reminds them of their childhood.

He's really a systems analyst from Des Moines

What I did a lot during my childhood, and throughout my college years, was move. So taking a day to move a bunch of heavy furniture is like a nostalgia trip for me. And the physical exercise makes me feel like I'm actually accomplishing something- unlike sitting on my ass and staring at a computer screen eight hours a day like I do at work.

Perhaps it's an exaggeration to say I love to help people move. It is hard work, and stressful for the person moving, but what I appreciate is the opportunity to earn easy karma points with something that I'm good at, I know how to do, and is relatively easy and stress-free for me.

So if you ever need any help moving your stuff, let me know.


spleeness said...

I grew up in a family that owned a moving business. We moved like every few years and I too love going through my things and organizing and weeding stuff out. I loved this post!

Jolene said...

Will you help me move? I mean, it's only a *few* states away ;-) I effing hate moving. you are a saint, my friend.

Tim said...

Jolene, if I lived closer, I would be all over it!