Thursday, September 17, 2009

CI #20 -- Moving

No one likes to move. No one likes helping someone move. No one can stand packing, wrapping, shuffling, storing, repacking, rearranging, securing objects with ropes (or extension cords), re-rearranging, unloading, -- not to mention it eating almost a month of the mover's life and killing at least an entire Saturday of anyone helping out.

There's not enough beer and pizza on Graham Avenue [insert incredibly specific geographic reference here] to make it tolerable.

So you can imagine how pumped I was when my new creepy neighbor *Gary asked me to help him move some things in the other day. "Just a couple bookcases I got on 92nd Street."... "Oh."

You might say, "Well, Greg. We help each other move. It's just part of being a decent person." Yes, we do help people move, and I help people move, but "people" are generally friends or loved ones.

Gary was neither (would he become one!?) when he approached me on my doorstep with my key in the door. I had seen him with bookcases atop his minivan on the other side of the street on my way back from the grocery store. We exchanged glances. Mine said, "Nope. I don't want to," but Gary was unfazed. I walked up the steps to my building, and suddenly found middle-aged, slightly doughy, matted gray hair, cargo shorts outfitted Gary right there behind me.

"You got a second?"
"I just need a hand getting these two bookcases upstairs."
"...How many stairs?"
"Two flights. [Pause]. I'll give you a couple bucks."
"Okay. Let me just put away the groceries [THAT I STILL HAVE IN MY HAND]."

So, I decided to help Gary, and I wouldn't take his money. What else am I doing anyway? Plus, if did accept money, I would have to be a good mover. I'd be a professional. There'd be pressure.

I stood idly by as I watched Gary remove the ties, which were extension cords, from the bookcases. Gary took his sweet time, untying at all four corners, when he could have just done two and come back later. On the plus side, however, these precious few moments allowed me to learn the following facts about Gary:

- he used to live on the Upper East Side. 14 years.
- rent was "getting crazy" up there, on the Upper East Side
- his minivan's back door got hit a couple years ago ("jackasses") and hasn't opened since
- he was given his minivan by a "good friend in Jersey"
- "sometimes it's nice to get away, you know"

Gary was the Oscar Wilde of obvious generalizations. Oh, and did I mention Gary had psoriasis? I'm not sure really what psoriasis is, but he was covered in something [remember to chop hand off later, if we come within inches of contact].

We move one bookcase up no problem. Then comes the second one. The heavy one. "I'll take the heavy end." "Okay. [You should]."

Gary moans and groans his way up the first flight of stairs. His face is really red. He's out of breath and heaving and lurching. And then terror sets in. I realize "Gary is going to die right here. He's going to have a heart attack and drop dead right in front of me. And I'll be the only one to handle it. There goes my WHOLE afternoon."

Fortunately for me, Gary did not die, and after a brief moment wondering whether my subconscious had stolen this nightmare from Curb Your Enthusiasm (still not sure), I decided I was going to accept money after all.

We got the second bookcase upstairs, and as he's walking me out he says:

"Let me give you a couple dollars. I wish I had more." I'm thinking, "$5. Whatever, it's a footlong. No biggie."

And then he pulls out a crumpled up one and hands it to me. "Hold on." "Okay."

He then proceeds to dump the entire contents of his cargo shorts pocket into his hand, against his belly. He motions me to come over and put my hand (ostensibly) against his belly. I do it, mostly because I believe it'll speed up the process.

The payment was now complete. And if you've ever wondered, (cq) "What's the going rate for helping someone move two bookcases up two flights of stairs? It's apparently $2.20, or $1.10 per bookcase.

I'm all but running back downstairs, and Gary's following me, which he continues to do across the street, to my door once again.

"So, like I was saying, I work in computers."
["Hmm, no, you weren't saying that, but whatever."]
"Oh, cool."
"So if you ever need any help with your computer, technical help, maybe you want to learn Word better [I'd made the mistake of telling him I was a writer], you know, I can help you out with that."
"Okay, cool."

And to top it all off, Gary finished with a limp, clammy handshake, which I found infinitely more offensive than $2.10.

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