Monday, April 10, 2006

The Rain, The Truck, The Freight Elevator, The Desk

My employer (big bank) is letting me work from home now. I asked for a few pieces of my office furniture for my home office. It is fully amortized, so they were happy to give me what I need (a desk and chair, a couple of file cabinets, two bookshelves). The office furniture is much nicer than my cast-offs and Ikea stuff, so I was very happy.

They said, however, that I would be responsible for moving it, since they were giving it to me.

No problem. Just a few pieces of office furniture. Yes, the desk was a little big, but it would be manageable.

(The silence you hear is God shaking his head and thinking, "she really is an idiot.")

So PH and I arranged to rent a UHaul truck on Saturday, along with a dolly and some furniture pads. I arranged with my office building management to have access to the freight elevator. I organized the space in the basement office (did I tell you my home office is in our basement?) to make the move-in easier.

(God is now waving his arms and crying, "No, no!")

Let me preface this part of the story by telling you that the entire month of March we had no rain. Zip. Nada. Nothing.

So we woke up Saturday morning to.....a driving rainstorm.

Ah well, we had raincoats, right? And sturdy, waterproof hiking boots, right? and work gloves?

No problem.

(God is rolling his eyes.)

We went to pick up the truck. We were not the only fools trying to move stuff on a very rainy Saturday. The line was long. It took us an hour to get our trusty chariot, a venerable beast with almost 200K miles on it. Smelled like an ashtray, and the brakes were a little sketchy, but it was reasonably functional.

Off we went to my office to get my stuff.

To access the door which leads to the freight elevator, you have drive into an access alley that serves a number of the downtown high-rise office buildings. Then for the last fifty feet, you have to back into an extremely narrow alley to my building's back door. I'm glad PH was driving - I would have scraped the wall and the truck in a dramatic fashion. We couldn't get the back of the truck under the door overhang, so it was clear that we and the furniture would get rained on, but we could handle it. Right.

The weekend security guy, Bill, was there for us. He's a lovely elderly gentleman who wanted to be very helpful, but he really didn't know how to operate the freight elevator. I was glad I had gotten a tutorial on it from the weekday concierge, Reggie. So up we went with our furniture dolly. It took four trips up and down the freight elevator to move out the stuff, including the desk, which turned out to be much heavier and larger than we recalled. (God is snickering now.)

On the last trip down, with the freight elevator packed full of stuff and us squished into the corner, the elevator went down and refused to stop at the access level. The door wouldn't open either.

We experimented with several different button combinations. It moved up and down, but the doors wouldn't open and it wouldn't go to the access level. Fortunately Bill had given us his cell phone number.

We called him and told him what was happening. "Well, I don't know much about that thing, but let me go down to the basement and push some buttons and see what happens."

Nothing happened.

He called back. "I'm going to call Stanley, the building engineer, and see what he says."

I played with buttons again. We jerked up a few feet, jerked down a few feet. The doors still wouldn't open.

I turned to PH. "You're not claustrophobic, are you?" You'd think after this many years of marriage, I would know that, but we'd never been stuck in a confined place before.

"Are you?" he asked.

"Nah. Just warm." The fan wasn't working in the elevator either.

Bill called back. "Stanley is coming in."

"How far does he have to come?" I was fearing he lived 20 miles out in the 'burbs. "It won't take long."

I took another shot at playing with the buttons, and, mirabile dictu, it worked. The elevator obediently went to the proper level and the door opened. I ran out and told Bill to call Stanley, hoping to save him the trip.

"No," Bill said. "I want him to get in here and show me how this thing works." I knew we'd want to be out of there before Stanley got there.

Loading the truck went pretty smoothly, although we got very wet. It was clear the desk was the biggest challenge. We drove home as the rain poured down, thinking how nice it would be if the rain stopped just for a little while so we could unload the furniture and take it with the hand truck around the back of the house to the basement level, which means a circuitous trip with a dozen or so stairs down around the perimeter of the house.

It didn't stop raining.

"Well," PH said, "if we can at least get the big pieces down using the furniture hand truck, then we can get the smaller things down there later when it's dry."

We got the big bookshelf and one of the lateral files down with minimal problems, despite the slippery slate stairs. We had to wipe the pieces down with a chamois.

Time for the desk. We got it on end, covered with a blanket and secured with a strap. There was only one problem. When PH was behind it, he couldn't see to steer (yes, it's that big). We made it down four of the stairs, when I suggested that this was too unsafe for just the two of us on a very rainy day. (God nods and thinks, "She's not so idiotic after all.")

So now my desk, one small bookshelf and a lateral file are sitting in my garage, waiting for the opportunity to put them where they belong. Maybe I'll just leave them there until we move to seminary housing. Maybe we'll take the desk apart and move it in pieces. Maybe the desk will grow moss in the damp environs of the garage and become something of an art installation...

And it is blissfully sunny outside.


Rhiannon said...

That's fantastic. I mean that's horrible, but that's fantastic. Thank you for sharing this; it made my day.

mibi52 said...

I suspect we all have moving horror stories. This one was pretty mild by comparison. I'm just grateful we didn't hurt ourselves.