by | Sep 1, 1991 | Detroit Free Press | 1 comment

The thing that separates us humans from, say, a big, fat, stupid cow, is that even a cow has enough sense not to call a moving company. If a cow wants to move — or mooooove, as they like to say — it nudges its cow friends and goes, “If you want me, I’ll be over there.” Then it waddles across the field and eats the grass.

Humans are not so smart. For some unknown reason, they suffer this terrible brain seizure every four or five years that makes them inexplicably decide, at the very instant they begin to make a dent in their mortgages, that it is time to move again! After all, we don’t want to hurt the banking industry by actually PAYING OFF OUR LOANS! Those folks need money for a Jacuzzi in the prison lounge.

Which brings me to where I am now, sitting in the basement of my new house, with no electricity, no water, and no idea where my shorts are, since the moving company sent them, I believe, to Tempe, Ariz. This is perfectly normal for moving companies, most of which consist of One Man In Nice Clothes and 23 Teenagers Without Driver’s Licenses.

HOW MOVING COMPANIES WORK: 1. The Man In Nice Clothes comes to your house. You walk him through. He nods earnestly while jotting things on a note pad. You think he is taking notes. Actually, he is writing “WHAT A BOZO. I WILL TAKE THIS GUY TO THE CLEANERS.”

He then shakes your hand, and promises his company is the most careful, conscientious moving company on earth, not like all those other companies that send those ex-cons to drop your furniture. Reassured, you sign the paper, and he goes back to his truck, shuts the door, and laughs his head off.

2. The ex-cons show up at your house. Upstairs, downstairs This, however, is only the beginning of your fabulous moving adventure! You find the supervisor of the moving crew — usually the guy with the biggest earring — and you say, “I think the best way to begin would be if I walked you through each room and–“

By the time you say this, your entire upstairs is on the truck.

“Wait a second. I–“

Your entire downstairs is on the truck.

“Gee. You guys are–“

And the truck leaves.

Suddenly, you are left with an empty house and no idea where your shorts are. Never fear! You are about to make some wonderful discoveries, including: 1) an oil stain the size of the dishwasher exactly where the dishwasher used to be. 2) The carpet is two completely different colors. 3) Remember that hole in the wall you covered with a painting? 4) Hey, look! There’s Muffy, our old dog! We thought she ran away years ag–

Oops. Better hurry to your new house before the movers unload your–

Too late. Your old upstairs is now your new downstairs. Your basement is now in your living room. And your shorts are in Tempe, Ariz.

Now. This would be enough fun for most people, but seeing as I am an extra-fun-loving guy, I also chose to move DURING A MAJOR THUNDERSTORM, which hit full force just as they took my piano off the truck.

“HEY, WAIT!” I yelled, but no one heard. Then again, the odds of getting hit by lightning while carrying a piano are slim to non–

Oops. No power, no water, no shorts Did I tell you the power went off? And the water? And the toilets? Thanks to the storm. And so now — in addition to sitting in the “basement” on a pile of cartons marked “bedroom” — we can only use each bathroom once, then shut the door and warn the others. And we are running out of bathrooms.

Why not call the electric company? I did. And they sent a very nice man who said, “You’ve got a line out. I’ll call a truck.”

And 12 hours later, the power was still out.

So I called the electric company. And they sent a very nice man who said,
“You’ve got a line out. I’ll call a truck.”

I figure these men must be related to the man from the moving company who promises you his people have never, ever, ever dropped a box of china, as far as he knows. But how would he know? He is out clothes shopping with the guys from the electric company.

(Actually, I should say here that the movers I used really weren’t bad, even if they did get their truck stuck in my driveway for two hours. Really. You guys were OK. Thanks for a great job. Can I get my shorts back now?)

And here we are in our new house, with a new mortgage the size of Mt. Vesuvius. I can hardly wait for more new adventures, like trying to find the box with the toothpaste in it — not that it matters, since we are out of bathrooms. But this is the kind of fun you expect when you move. And as I sit, with no water, no power, and no shorts, I must say, I sure am glad I’m a human being, and not some big, fat, stupid cow. Although I’m getting kind of hungry, and that grass looks pretty good.

1 Comment

  1. Jeff J.

    Well Mitch, while I can appreciate your nuances for the little things in life (that turn out to be the big things), not all movers are of equal ability. That was a humorous description of a moving company with one guy in nice clothe and 23 teenagers without licenses. As I have been a mover for 30 years and can understand the public’s weariness of movers, and there are more than a few bad ones, moving is a pain in the butt and the only reward is getting the check at the end of the day. Well, maybe not the only reward, the reward for a job well done, let’s just say, is a distant second. It’s 2017 now and your article was written WAY back in 1991! I came across your article while surfing the internet for mobile moving containers and a company called COWs–containers on wheels–and it must’ve cross linked your article since COWs wasn’t born until after the turn of the century. Anyhow, I also read your book about Morrie, the title escapes me now, and it was touching. Interesting to see if you actually get this comment and respond, though I’m not gonna hold my breath.

    Thanks Jeff J.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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