Am I a nice guy?
I like to think so. But you don’t have to ask me. Here’s how you can tell that I’m a nice guy: I help friends move. I don’t own a truck, I’m not super strong, and I don’t bring strong truck owning friends with me. But, I’m a nice guy, so I help.
Here’s the thing, though… the friends who show up on moving day are your good friends. The friends who show up for your NEXT moving day… those are your friends for life. As someone who’s moved several times and helped countless people move, I’ve learned a few things about how to make the process as smooth as possible when friends are involved.
Offer breakfast if you’re starting in the morning.
You don’t have to offer eggs, bacon, toast, hashbrowns, mixed fruit, and juice. A dozen donuts or bagels, bottles of water and juice, and a couple of paper plates is more than enough. If it’s cold, offer to make hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. You can buy instant, microwavable packets for each of these, and a paper cup gets the job done perfectly well. Even if no one takes you up on it, it shows goodwill and gets things off on the right foot. Plus, someone will take a break and grab a bagel at some point.
Unless you explicitly asked your friends to help you pack and clean, they are coming expecting to help you move. Your house or apartment should already be packed. Dishes, clothes, DVDs, sheets, and everything else should be in boxes or bags and ready to go. Do not expect your friends to be really excited to either hang out at 8:00 Saturday morning, or to help pack your delicates. Just be ready. If you’re renting a truck, have it there when your friends arrive.
You’ll want to let your friends know what you want. Here’s a suggestion if you’re really stumped: start with the big furniture, then the small furniture, then the boxes and large bags, then whatever is left over. What stuff is going to your new place, and what stuff is going into storage? When you get to your new place, have some idea what will go where. Does the couch go in the living room, basement, or garage? You might not know where everything goes, but at least know about the big stuff.
You will probably have a couple of things that aren’t going anywhere at first. This may include cleaning supplies, a vacuum, a backpack with toiletries and a couple of clean shirts and underwear, and a folder with any information that you need. Let people know that this stuff doesn’t go anywhere until you say so.
That sentence look weird? Let me explain. Before we met, my wife bought a four-poster king sized bed. I did not complain. However, when it came time to move, I had no clue what to do with this giant, heavy (extremely comfortable) piece of furniture. Luckily, my wife did. She knew exactly how to take the bed apart and where the Allen wrench was that fit. Just as importantly, she knew how to put it back together. When our friends came over, they already knew that we would be disassembling and reassembling the bed, and my wife took charge of that piece of the puzzle.
There are always surprises. Always. Think you have everything covered? Do you have blankets to protect your furniture and belongings from scrapes? What are you going to do with glass tables or TV screens? Think about what tools you might need during the day and keep those out. You aren’t going to need that new compound-miter saw with the radial arm, but a set of screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead), a hammer, Allen wrenches of different sizes, a crescent wrench, duct tape and paper towels are a moving-day must. Also, a couple of pens, pencils, and ziplock bags to label, organize and store things.
I know that this is going to seem sexist, and that’s certainly not the intent, but… if you’re an able-bodied male, and you’re not a senior citizen, your friends are going to expect you to help. Even if you aren’t very strong (I’m certainly not), you’ve got to be an active participant in your move. In fact, you should be the hardest working person there. At the end of the day, you should be more exhausted than anyone else.
In early summer 2009, my wife and I moved twice in three weeks due to the fact that we’re really dumb. It’s been more than four years, and I think my back still hurts. The next time we moved, we hired movers for the big stuff and my wife was pregnant. No one was surprised or upset when she took more and longer breaks. Why? She was pregnant! Plus, most of the big stuff was handled by the movers, so it only made sense that one of us stay inside and direct traffic. Unless you’re actually unable to help, you should be outworking your friends during your move. (If you hire movers for everything, this whole page is moot, anyway.)
They’re your friends, yes, but they’re still volunteering their time to help you out. Keep that in mind constantly. Thank them when they arrive, occasionally throughout the day, and again when they leave. Remind them about those bagels and donuts and water and juice.
And just because they’re volunteering doesn’t mean that you can’t offer them a little something for the help. Don’t offer to pay them–that’s actually somewhat insulting–but instead, bring in lunch or beer. Order pizza, send someone out for sandwiches, break out pre-made pasta or bags of chips. Have a few beers in a cooler, if that’s what suits your friends, or soda, juice, water, or whatever your friends enjoy. Sitting down for fifteen minutes, even on the floor of a half-empty (half-full?) apartment, and eating together is a good break, and talking and laughing is a good way to remind your friends that you’re exactly that: friends. Don’t underestimate the real value of $30 worth of pizza, $15 worth of beer, and $3 worth of ice.
Obviously. And thank them again for helping you. You can probably thank someone too much, but that’s a lot better than not thanking them enough!
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