exercises in compound storytelling

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

you can't hide crazy

Or more accurately: you can't hide your crazy from people who look at crazy every day.

Many years ago I read Paul Fussell's book Class; where among other things he discusses who can and who can't afford to have someone else pack and open their luggage. He discreetly suggests that if you're visiting members of the upper class (even the lower upper class) its important to remember that it will be expected that the help will open your luggage, so don't put anything in it you don't want seen.

This sentiment seems almost quaint in the era, surely temporary, of the Transportation Security Administration, where every time you travel it is reasonable to expect that your luggage will be searched by a contract employee who wasn't quite prison guard material, but it's a reasonable guide for understanding another class of burly hourly workers: packers and movers.

The packers, God bless them, look directly at crazy all day every day; the movers, for the most part, just move it after it has been taped into cubes. You may be able to lie to the movers, but there's no point in even trying to lie to the packers: they look at crazy all day every day. And because the good ones are so hard to find, they may be looking at it six or seven days a week. Seriously: this is an example of amateurs vs. professionals: you're only amateur crazy, while these folk look at crazy on a professional basis. Do not try to lie to them.

My favorite stories from my day with the packers include the following:
  1. A woman out on the successful part of the south end of town called and offered triple the going rate for same-day moving. Meaning that she wanted to move the day of the call and was willing to pay. The dispatcher rounded up two crews from different moves, by turns forty and sixty minutes away and sent them to her address for overtime. When they arrived they called and couldn't get an answer. They went to a window and saw a body on a bed. Turned out the woman was being evicted the next day, and had decided to kill herself with pills and booze and leave her bloated cooling body for the movers. They couldn't rouse her by pounding on the window, so they called the cops. The cops gained entry to the premises, and she proceeded to assault one of them.
  2. Hoarders. Turns out you can stack up Lord only knows what as high and thick as you like and movers will move it, but cover it with animal waste and it gets complicated.
  3. If you have something you're ashamed of, or don't want to get arrested for, plan on hand carrying it to your new domicile. Don't tape it up and hand it to the packer and ask him or her to "just put it on the truck and don't ask." They can't do that and just plain won't. Besides, they look at things people should be ashamed of all the time. Just don't ask them to move drugs or other illegal stuff. Guns are a different matter: if their in a gun safe expect to pay more in insurance; if they're not, don't ask the packers to touch them.
  4. Turns out you can get a house full of nothing but beds and video production equipment moved from Albuquerque to "somewhere near but not in Hollywood" for the usual fees, but you should expect to be discussed if the topic of "what's the strangest thing you've ever moved?" comes up.
On balance I recommend hiring movers; get back to me a week when they've done what they said and delivered my stuff.

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