“We could use some help moving,” read Chandler’s email. Her email mentioned two pianos, some boxes, hard cider, and “other vittles.”
“I hope that ‘other vittles’ includes a sixer of suds,” I replied. “‘Beer’ to you,
or more appropriately, me.”
“For you, Jesse, I think we could do beer,” her next email said. I was already committed to helping her and Donald, but with my eyes closed I could now picture myself stretching out on a couch with a cold beer in my hand and sweat on my brow. There is no beer better than a beer earned through hard labor, and this was suddenly my inevitable future.
After Hercules captured Erymanthian Boar, he turned down moving a piano in favor of the easier task of cleaning the Augean stables. I think that he may have made the correct decision.
The first piano (of two), was Donald’s enormous upright. After moving it across half of the country twice he was finally ridding himself of it. The buyer lived a mile or two away, but Donald had rented a cube van from Budget, so the transportation would be a cinch — once we got the piano into the truck.
Six of us lifted and heaved. Door frames were dented and a caster broke free, but soon we were tying the piano into the back of the van.
“All right, it’s just a little ways across town,” Donald announced. We piled into two cars and the van. Minutes later we piled out in front of a nondescript blue duplex.
“How many flights are we going up?” I asked, eying the stairs leading up to the front door.
“Just one,” the piano buyer answered. I grinned. He grinned. Everyone grinned, unaware of the sheer horror coming.
We were up the front steps squeezing into the front door when it was revealed that the storm door would have to be removed and the piano turned end for end. Six of us hoisted the instrument and tromped in circles in the snow before struggling up the front stairs one more time.
You’d think from the shouting and earth shaking impacts that B52s were dropping thousand pound bombs all around us.
“One two three!” and the piano would jerk three inches vertically.
“Turn it turn it turn it!” and slivers of wood rained from a freshly crushed corner.
“My hand!” screamed the new owner, whose fingers were trapped against a wall by hundreds of pounds of wood and wire.
Six or ten of us pushed, pulled, cursed, and cajoled the piano up to the second floor of the duplex. Four of us pushed and grunted from below, and everyone else pulled ropes and barked orders. Minutes became hours. We fought for inches — for millimeters. Suddenly the piano tipped its casters onto the floor. It was born fully formed from our foreheads.
That finished, we moved on to Chandler’s piano, which was to take replace Donald’s in their home. Having no casters of its own, we picked it up and placed it upon a pair of dollies. It rolled onto the elevator and into the van as if possessed, but we carried it up the walk and into Donald’s house at the other end of the trip. Honestly, the experience is a blur of carrying and shoveling. Compared to lifting hundreds of pounds of piano around a corner in the middle of a long flight of stairs, shifting this black lacquered animal was almost a non-event.
Vittles included five pizzas from Pizza Luce, but beer was conspicuously absent. Fortunately, I came prepared for the occasion. Even though Summit Winter Ale is a bit dark and heavy for proper sweat relief, it filled in admirably.
Donald and Chandler of course thanked the whole crew profusely, and eagle-eyed scroungers like myself even made off with various goods and sundries that otherwise would have ended up at the Goodwill. I got three saucepans, a stock pot, mixing bowls, coffee cups, and a pile of other kitchen goods.
All in all, it was a pretty good day.