This week I borrowed a truck from my buddy Dave, loaded it up with bungee cords, old blankets, garbage bags, tape and tarps and headed north. No, I wasn’t going camping, working on the rigs or going to set up a booth at a craft fair.
And I wasn’t the only one on a similar journey. It’s the end of April and treks involving trucks, vans, U-Hauls and overloaded beat-up cars are everywhere. It means that another year of college and university higher learning and intense partying is finally over.
And that means legions of burned-out students are returning home for the summer, where the name of the game is to make as much moola as legally possible in four months while trying to forget that they are living with their parents again to save money so they can move out and head back to higher learning and serious partying in September.
In fact, both of my rotten kids have boomeranged back again — and neither of them were students this year. Number one son returned from 10 weeks in the Amazon rainforest where he was bitten by a bullet ant, but managed to avoid the more fatal snakes and spiders, and he didn’t even get malaria like he did in Madagascar during his previous wildlife conservation trip.
Number one daughter just got back from visiting hobbit houses in New Zealand where she saw Mount Doom and jumped out of an airplane and managed to survive both.
It was this younger adventurer that I was helping to move. No I didn’t have to drive the truck to New Zealand; she had been living in Edmonton until the end of the post secondary school year. So after her jaunt to New Zealand with her globetrotting Aunt Theresa, she still needed to move her stuff home for the summer before she goes to Vancouver. The son is working and planning his next escapade — to Asia this time.
I can’t keep up. The Better Half and I are lucky if we get a nice trip to Lacombe for a drive-through ice cream at the Dairy Queen.
Anyway, back to moving day, I arrive at the basement suite in the capital city and we make 312 trips up and down many stairs designed for much younger student-type people, and we load the back of the truck with many heavy items and it’s my job as a Dad to use my vast experience and impressive knowledge of all things fatherly to fill the truck in such a clever and safe way that precious items don’t go flying out of the back of the truck on the QE2.
When I was finished, the truck looked like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies. I couldn’t figure out the tie-down straps that Dave had thoughtfully left in the truck for me, so I covered everything in blankets and wrapped many layers of clear packing tape around everything, and wound and stretched a couple dozen bungee cords everywhere until it looked like a giant cat’s cradle covering huge lumps of Saran Wrap.
More than once that day, I wished my friends Dave and Cal were there. Back in our band days those guys could pack about three tonnes of musical gear perfectly, like a giant jig saw puzzle, into a GMC van and still have room for four or five human band members.
I’ve seen both of them load a van or a bus or a trailer so flawlessly you couldn’t squeeze in one more guitar pick — and didn’t need to.
I was thinking about that as my rotten kid and I rattled and rumbled through the city and onto the highway, the blankets and bungees flapping vigorously, stuff hanging on precariously — bouncing around in the back of the truck.
It’s often difficult to drive holding your breath with your fingers crossed and your eyes on the rear view mirror, but somehow we managed to roll back into town with the daughter’s worldly possessions relatively unscathed, and as far as I could tell, most of the items still in the truck.
I’ve found that moving is never that much fun, but I’ve learned that with enough old blankets, packing tape and bungee cords — and a lot of luck — it still isn’t much fun.
But, by far, over the years I’ve come to know the absolute most important secret to a successful moving day. Have a good friend with nice big truck.
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate.