One more day in a moving company

One more day in a moving company

One of my jobs working at Royal Moving involves visiting the homes of perspective clients to have a better understanding of the relocation process itself. This includes figuring out the items to be moved, types of equipments, number of workers, hours, and/or trucks a move will take.

Not all moving companies are created equally-some moves have the knack of making your move as simple as possible while others can give you a nightmarish experience.

Moving the ranch style, 3-bedroom in Hacienda Heights with just a heavy piece of furniture was a far cry from the 2 story, 5-bedroom tract housing development in Santa Clarita, whose owner not only had one, but two gun safes that strictly had to go to his master bedroom closet. Not to mention the washer and the dryer that had to be lugged up those rough and tiring fleet of stairs as well.

Working as a mover can be a fun job

It’s amazing what moving miracles can be achieved with young men, strong backs, patience, the right equipments and not to forget- a cool lunch break.

In a world that glorifies technology innovation (autonomous vehicles, computer vision etc), working for a moving company can look unsexy to many. However, the challenging work opportunities add to the oomph factor. Coupled with this, the strong relationships that you foster can make the profession seemingly exciting. During my initial days spending time in the back of those monstrous trucks, I established great camaraderie with coworkers, often resulting in friends for life.

Furthermore, I get to meet tons of customers and surprisingly, some of them leave a permanent imprint on my heart, which can be good, bad or an amalgamation of both.

My job as an estimator right now is not just limited to taking care of our clients, but  includes each and every element essential to ensure that  our crew gets everything they need to put forth the best effort possible in an easy manner.  I know what’s it’s like to be shorthanded, especially on a big move.  A group of people can accomplish a lot more than what a single person can do. So, I make it a point to encourage my team members to pitch in to get through crunch times. Having a solid teamwork not only helps to accomplish challenging tasks, it also raises employee morale and eases the stress of being short-staffed.

Here is how my days go

My work days occasionally take me out of LA area into the surrounding counties. Trust me when I say that I didn’t give an evil eye to my coworker, Mark who has booked estimates at 3 o’clock in the afternoon in Orange County on a Friday.

The 405 has robbed more time from people than the precarious grim reaper. I can’t completely blame Mark. His only objective is to make it convenient for the customer. Well, offering greater convenience every now and then can act as a two-edged sword.

For the most part, my trips to the surrounding counties are, in fact, missions to other worlds. LA is unto itself with terrific intensity and startlingly gorgeous chaos that seems to keep its own time and pulse. The place has never adhered to the rules of any major metropolitan city in the whole of the US.

But if you aim your vehicle east and creep out to the Inland Empire (IE), you’ll find a much different tempo. The beginning of the desert is where the noise of Los Angeles starts fading. The warmth of the IE can melt away any sense of time, agenda, urgency, and for that matter, even your thought patterns. Most people move to the IE to get away from La Cienaga’s stoplights, the 110’s morning crawl, and the occasional yelling match with the guy in the white Prius who tries to take your street parking even though you saw it first. There are snakes in the city. And they drive hybrids. The Inland Empire offers the perfect remedy for people suffering from these urban ailments. It’s the IE where they journey to find lots of square footage, mellow suburban neighborhoods, peace and serenity, and of course plenty of parking.

My unusual experience with a client that left me grieved

It was two weeks ago when I found myself pinballing my Chevy Impala between the I-10, I-15, the 210, and the 57 freeways. It happened to be that I had 4 estimates in the surrounding areas. Oh well, I thought. At least my radio works and there’s gas in my car. I easily made through my first few estimates without much trouble and then cruised very calmly to the city of Corona. It was here on a quiet backstreet of the first (and probably only) one story home in all of the areas where I happened to park at the residence of Geri. When I called Geri to tell her I was on my way over, she politely thanked me and said she’d be waiting for me to ring her doorbell. And without fail, Geri opened her front door before I could even press the button. In all honesty, I didn’t expect Geri to be as mature as she was. The Geri I spoke with on the phone was in her mid 40’s. The Geri in front of me was pushing 70. No matter. I walked in and shook her hand.

“Hello young man, we spoke on the phone”, Geri said in a matter of fact way. There was a youthful cadence to her. Maybe she read the confused look I thought I had wiped away from my face. “Pleasure, ma’am,” I responded caught unawares. Geri had a distinct look to her. She was about my shoulder height but wasn’t short. She had a peculiarly short cropped hair cut, which would’ve looked odd on anyone else. The gracefully aging lady wore thick glasses but they looked really good on her. Even though she had a big smile, she was so soft spoken, it was almost unnerving.  It seemed as if Geri had never yelled at anyone in her life. Geri could’ve easily been my grandmother but there was no “grandmotherliness” in her. She was a totally different bird.

Geri took me on a tour of the house going piece by piece of what was going to be taken and what would go to charity. Tucked in collared shirt and blue jeans, she walked barefoot around the house. Her strides were equally soft as the way she spoke. At some point it seemed like she was gliding. I wouldn’t have been surprised. There seemed to have been an elegance and grace about her. Of the many high end items in her living room, Geri pointed out the grandfather clock. “Oh, you must take care of this clock. He’s 107 years old. It’s been fixed a few times now”, she said almost in a pleading manner. “Not to worry, Geri. We got you,” I declared.

Geri continued on her guided tour. Through the kitchen and into the TV room, I posed Geri a similar question that I put up during all of my pre-moves estimates; “So tell me, why are you moving?” Geri stopped walking and I heard her foot actually thud the hardwood floor. She paused and looked up to me as I was jotting away on my notepad. “My husband died two years ago,” Geri uttered. I stopped writing. The mood changed immediately. I could see in Geri’s face the emotions of experiencing her husband’s death again. I was staggered by how quickly Geri transformed. Her elegance and grace had put on a black headscarf. Geri was now a widow.

“I am so sorry for your loss,” was an instinctive consolation from my mouth. I started feeling uncomfortable with each moment as Geri didn’t respond. “Yeah, me too.” she replied, saving me from the awkwardness of the moment. She reasserted herself and pressed on to the bedrooms. As we continued, I noticed I was practically tiptoeing. I was the one who was now walking softly as if there were eggshells underneath my size 13 Jordans. Geri slid into the next few rooms pointing out items that were to be wrapped and stacked in the truck. But every now and then I caught her touching a dresser or a table with such care. These were the invaluable things bought by her and her late husband. The simple caress of the mirror as she looked at it told the story of a woman who had grown old and now was alone. And sadly, both circumstances were completely out of her control.

As we walked into the master bedroom, Geri pointed firmly at the king size bed and a large oak headboard. “This will not be coming with us,” she stated. I was a little puzzled. Perhaps the most symbolic part of any matrimony is a couple’s bed. Of all the things not moving with her, it was the bed. A perplexing moment for me without any iota of doubt!

“I just want to give it to my housekeeper. Let her hang to it.” She answered the question without me even asking it. The bed, like the house, belonged both to her and her husband.

The mid afternoon sun was pleasant in the patio. Not too hot to make you sweat, yet just warm enough to keep you interested in the day. Various pieces of wall art glistened while the sounds of a babbling brook from a water feature could be heard. This patio was her sanctuary. The several potted plants and animal figurines were perfectly positioned and aligned in the backyard. Geri, still barefoot, walked on to the grass and motioned to the plants on her left, suggesting that they would be making the trip to her next home.

Suddenly, Geri stopped talking completely. She looked down at her feet and put her hands on her back as if she was supporting it. A light wind kicked up and the wind chimes rang smoothly through the patio. Perhaps Geri was reliving a memory of hosting a garden party with her husband on a day similar to this one. Or perhaps she was dealing with another betraying thought she hadn’t been able to process yet. “You have a beautiful home, Geri,” I said honestly. “It is,” she responded rather thoughtfully. “Full of memories and love. It will be a great home for the buyer.”

As I sat in the TV room with Geri looking over the items I wrote down on my pad, I could see her refocusing on the task in front of her. “I think this is going to be a simple move for you,” I stated. “I wouldn’t worry.” Then Geri started with a list of questions. The “what if’s” and the “in the event ofs” and the “what abouts”. I could see Geri getting worked up. Then, she caught herself. “I’m sorry,” she retracted. “I’m just incredibly nervous. I’ve never done this before. I’ve never done ANY of this before.” I extended my hand out to Geri and she put hers in mine. “Geri, I promise you, everything will be fine. This move will be the last thing you have to worry about. Trust in us. We’ll move you along.” Geri smiled again. The same women I met at the front door was now walking me out and thanking me for my time. Geri was going to be okay.

My Reflection

As I sat in my car going over my notes, I looked at Geri’s home. And I thought of loving someone so much that his absence would be too overwhelming to stay in the same home, made together. This was part of Geri’s journey. Each day for her is a new “first time”. Moving day would be the first one too. I know the furniture is going to make it. Geri, however, would have to take her time. After all, some moves are simpler than others.

To sum up, this was not an everyday experience for me. A woman past her prime sharing her traumatic life events with a stranger is unheard of at least in our profession. However, it’s a universal fact that as social beings we have to share our feelings and stories with those around us. At the end of the day, this is what makes us humans-our ability to share our emotions and experiences with others.

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