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The Column

Moving Is Like A Vaccuum: It Sucks
10/27/02

The reason why many people spend their entire lives in one town is not because they are afraid to leave, or because they desire a small-town atmosphere. It’s because it is such a frickin’ hassle to move.

There are several steps to moving, most of them ending in paper cuts and loud swearing. The first of which, of course, is packing. Jerry Seinfeld had a routine where he said that just before a move, your entire life involves looking for boxes. This is absolutely true, and it’s because we all refuse to pay for something that we’re going to throw away. Sure, we’ll pay to ship our things, to move our things, to rent a van for our things. But you’re not catching me spending fifty cents on a box to make sure I have something in which to ship, move, or drive my things.

Our moves then, become advertisements for our local grocery stores, Kinkos, and any company from which we order online. I know someone who, a week before he moved, ordered cheap, bulky things online so that he could keep the boxes. Staples, by the way, does not like to ship more than one box, so if you buy two medium things, they put both of the medium boxes inside a bigger box, so you get three boxes for the price of two. Or so my friend told me. Yeah, my friend. That’s the ticket.

Once you have the boxes, or the taped up garbage bags pretending to be boxes, you must fill them. No matter how much stuff you think you have, there is always one shelf left over. Usually, it’s the things you ordered from Staples. So you have to either use your laundry basket as a makeshift box, grab an armful of your crap and stumble with it to the car, or just leave a few things behind. How could you possibly leave anything behind? Easily, once you realize how seldom you actually use anything you own.

Here’s a suggestion: if you’re moving, pack as if you were going on a three-month trip. Then sell everything else. If you own stuff that you wouldn’t use once in the next three months, there is no point to owning it. Right after you sell everything, you will probably need one of the things you sold, and you can’t predict which one. So take the money you made from the books you’ve never read, the movies you’ve never watched, and the clothes you haven’t worn since 1997, and buy a new one, whatever it is.

You’re now all packed, hopefully using actual boxes, and you’re ready to load your vehicle/mail all of your stuff across the country. If you’re choosing between these things, load up a car and drive. For the cost of a plane ticket, you can rent a car. For the cost of shipping your computer, you can rent three.

If you have furniture, you will need a van instead of a car. Here’s where it gets dicey, because lately, there’s been a problem with vans (mainly white ones). At the risk of being horribly offensive, the whole white van thing can only help someone who is moving. How much easier has it gotten to find one available to rent? If I had any cash to invest, I’d channel it all into the white van market. If you think about it, this is really the lowest that market will ever dip. Someone has got to be the bull.

Now you have your crap in boxes, a wad of cash from everything you sold, and a van to pack it all in. Maybe it’s white and maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s black and you could paint a diagonal red stripe down the side like the A-Team. But you’re still missing the most important thing when it comes to moving: people to sucker into helping you.

Since you just spent the extra cash you had on an A-Team van, you no longer have the money to hire professional movers. Though professional movers charge your-first-born-per-hour, so you could have only hired them for a few minutes anyway. You then somehow convince a few of your friends to help by promising that you will help them move, provided they are planning to move on a weekend when you’re out of town. Inevitably, one of them breaks something that you packed very poorly, and you get so mad that you threaten to never fleece them into helping you again. You recant, however, after you realize how large your dresser has gotten.

You finally get to your new place. But by the time you need to unload, and certainly by the time you need to unpack, your friends have left. So how the heck are you going to get all of your stuff into the places it actually goes? If you just moved to the Los Angeles underground, and you have this problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

They might know where to find more boxes.

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