Helga and Olga’s Moving Service

8 Oct

My Mom and I decided to rent a U-Haul truck in order to pick up all of the furniture that we agreed to purchase from Craigslist humans. I had always thought, somewhere in my little juvenile mind, that U-Haul trucks were always driven by experienced, trained truck driver mover people. I guess I never formulated the thought “U-Hauls are rented by every day people to help them move their every day items from one every day place to another.”

First, though, we have to find it. So, we pile into Dory and attempt to locate the U-Haul renting place.

Mom: Plug in Chester and see where he wants us to go.
Me: (Loving the ever-changing name of my GPS) Okay. Benny says to drive 3.2 miles and then make a left.
Jedediah: Drive, 3.2 miles. THEN- turn left.

We drive along, enjoying the sunny Florida weather and each other’s company. But the closer we get to our “final destination” the darker the skies start to get. The buildings go from tightly positioned business buildings, Paneras, and Wells Fargo banks to creepy, dirty abandoned garages with signs on the sides of them that say things like “Brakes R Us” and “Tires 4 Less.” We are actually entering a ghetto.

Mom: Are you sure Jack is taking us the right way?
Me: Yeah… he says this is the right way…

We finally see a big U-Haul sign and turn in.

Michelangelo: You have reached, your destination.

We lock up Dory, and as we walk away, I can’t help but feel like this is the last time I’ll ever see her with perfectly in-tact windows. The guy inside helps us with our reservations, then leads us outside. I’m expecting a small truck, something sensible that will hold some bedroom furniture and a bookcase…. The U-Haul truck is the size of a small house. Like, a family of four could actually reside in it for a few days and not feel completely miserable. Mom and I exchange a look that says, “Are we seriously going to drive this beast right now?” So we get in. The dude checks our gas and everything and then closes the door.

Dude: (hitting the side of the door twice) Enjoy!

There is a moment of stunned silence. We look at each other. And then, Mom does this:

So we’re on the road again. Just, you know, driving along. It’s a little nuts because we have to swing WIDE on every turn.

Me: Oh, crap, Jason wants us to turn right up here. Swing it WIDE, Mom.
Mom: OH, I’ll swing it wide!
(The Beast starts to turn)
(We complete the turn. There is a moment of silence. Then we both laugh hysterically, thoroughly pleased with ourselves.)

We follow Victor’s instructions (“Turn left! Then, stay on the right lane.”) and soon we find ourselves face to face with a toll booth. There are two lanes for this particular toll booth: E-Z pass, and EXACT CHANGE. There is no other option.

Mom: (forcefully calm) Um, Carolyn? I’m going to need you to get into my purse and see if I have any change.
Me: (slight panic) I don’t think we do! We used a lot yesterday on the toll roads-
Mom: CAROLYN. Look in my purse now. There is someone coming up behind us and I need to pay this toll.
Me: (rummaging through everything, trying to find her wallet) Are we going to be arrested in a U-Haul?!
Mom: How do the windows open!?
Me: (pulling out a dime) What?
The Car Behind Us: BEEEEEEP BEEEEEP!!!
Me: I don’t know!
The Car Behind Us: BEEEEEPPPP!!!!
Me: (handing her some silver coins and praying it’s enough) HERE!
(I notice a sign that says “STAY IN VEHICLE” just as Mom opens the door of The Beast. She then decides to hitch half of her body out of the door. She chucks the coins into the toll slot, then looks back to the car beeping behind us and waves.)
Mom: SARRY!!!

We arrive at the first Craigslist house, which actually turns out to be an apartment. But remember how the skies were darkening earlier as we drove into the ghetto? Yeah, well, there was basically a monsoon that managed to hit and run, so now the path leading up to the first apartment is a lake. Seriously, the deepest, longest, dirtiest puddle I have ever seen.

Me: Great. This’ll be great.

We try to avoid Lake Puddlegan by avoiding the sidewalk all together and just walking through the grass, but this is like trying to avoid eating meat by going to a Hibachi steakhouse. It’s just… a stupid idea. I have on my brand new gold flats and I am not pleased that I now have to lug 10 ton wooden bedroom furniture through a marshland to get to the ramp-less four foot high U-Haul. We get to the apartment. We knock on the door. We wait. We knock again. We wait. No one answers. Then-

Distant Foreign Voice: I’M CAH-MING! I’M CAH-MING!

We turn all the way around away from the door and see a sweaty, jiggly Latina woman hurrying towards us across the marshy courtyard. She has her hair pulled back in a pony tail, and she’s obviously been moving things all day. She looks exhausted.

Latina: Sorry, I’ve just gatta few men movingha my new furniture in while you take the old stuff out! Cahm een! Cahm een!

We walk in, and we take a look at everything we have to move… A positively massive dresser with six drawers, a queen sized mattress, a box spring, a bed frame, an 8 ton headboard, and a 4 ton mirror for the dresser. Oh, and a sensible 2 ton side table with two drawers. Keep in mind this is all solid dark wood, okay? This shit is HEAVY. I immediately try to stifle a laugh because there is no way my middle-aged mom and I are going to be able to move all of this outside, through the lake, and UP and into that huge Beast.

But then, the movers who were helping move Latina’s new furniture into her apartment actually morphed into human gifts from God. They just started taking all of our furniture out to the Beast for us. I couldn’t believe our luck. I mean, sure, I still helped by taking the drawers outside, trudging through the marshlands, and lifting them up and into the truck. But before I knew what was happening, everything was in The Beast and we were pulling out, waving goodbye, and saying “Thank you!!!” so much they probably wanted to kill us. Maybe this day was going to turn out alright.

(Driving to the next house to pick up a couch and a loveseat.)
Me: Mom?
Mom: Yes dear?
Me: I’m going to start calling you Helga and you should call me Olga.
Mom: Haha! Helga and Olga’s moving service!
Me: Haha! Yeah!
Mom: Forget ze men! Ve wheel move eet ourselves!
Me: Hahaha! Exactly! I’m so impressed with our strength!
Mom: I’m fifty three years old. I’m too old for this.
Me: Ha ha… hey, um, Mom?
Mom: Yes Olga?
Me: There is literally no way that an entire couch and a loveseat are going to fit in this truck.
Mom: You underestimate me.
Me: AND a bookcase! We still have to get that huge bookcase!
Mom: It’ll fit.
Me: But HOW? Like, do you understand what I’m saying? There is no more-

We arrive at Craigslist house #2. The Couch Apartment. We drive around this apartment complex for ten minutes, trying to find apartment 15. (Keep in mind we’re in a giant U-Haul, and the apartment complex’s turns are very sharp. “TURN IT WIDE! TURN IT WIIIIDDEEE!!!!”) The numbers go from 12… straight to 17. Oh. Okay. That’s just great. It makes zero sense, and it’s getting darker, and I’m pretty annoyed that at one point in time, someone actually thought it would be a good idea to have apartment 12 positioned next to apartment 17. I feel like I’m searching for platform 9 and 3/4. Finally, we go around to the back of the apartment building. As we go, I notice little mounds of dirt along the path. Oh. You know. Just some fire ant colonies, chillin.’ And then… we see it. We see a flight of stairs. It’s a narrow flight of stairs, very narrow, and very tall, with rails on each side.

Me: Um… Mom?
Mom: Just… just go.

Yep. It’s apartment 15. Of COURSE it is. So, we trudge up the stairs. An image of my mother and I attempting to carry a couch down this flight of death flashes through my mind. I knock on the door.

Woman: DOWN! BACK!
Woman: BACK!!!
(The door opens, revealing yet another Latina woman, sweaty and tired from a day of moving.)
Woman: HELLOO!!!! Come een, come een, sorry! Everytheeng’s a mess-!
(Meanwhile, she is holding back the killer dog who is barring his teeth and barking and growling at us.)
Woman: Oh, don’ mind him! E’s harmless- DOWN! BACK! Hold onna minute, lemme jus put him away.
(She pulls the snarling dog into a bedroom, shoves him in, and slams the door before he can escape. The barking stops immediately. It’s kind of eerie in a way… I wonder what she keeps in there to keep the dog occupied…)

We look at the couches… How do I put this? They are actually the size of kayaks. Like, the length of kayaks, the width of refrigerators. And they weight about as much as a washer and dryer. A full washer and dryer… And ironing board. And a car. I tell myself that we are about to move these pieces of furniture down the flight of death, across a windy trail full of fire ants, and UP and into The Beast… which is already basically full of furniture. Okay, I think. We can do this.

Woman: So! Where are the movers?
Mom: Well…You’re looking at them.
Woman: (Bursts out laughing)
Woman: … Oh. Uh.. Okee then.

We decide that the couches are going to be too wide to move out of the front door, so we unscrew the feet. Mom positions herself in the front, and I bring up the rear.

Woman: Are you sure you’re gonna be-
Mom: Yep! We’ve got it.
Me: (Thinking) Do we, Mom? Do we really?
Woman: (skeptical) Okayee…

We shove the couch through the door, and immediately brace ourselves for the flight of death.

Mom: (forcefully calm and collected) Okay! Carolyn?
Me: (really struggling with the weight of the couch) Mrerrrugh Yeah??
Mom: Okay, when I tell you to push, push a little bit, okay?
Woman: (Muttered to me) Is she gonna be okee down there all by herself?
Me: Yeah.
Mom: One…
Me: She’ll be fine.
Mom: Twooo….
Woman: (actually praying) Dear Jesus…

Using all of my strength I push! I push as hard as I physically can! I keep pushing!!! But nothing happens.

Mom: Are you pushing?
Me: Uhggg yeah…
Mom: Well push harder!
Woman: Oh Jesus…
Me: I’m- ugh!- Trying!
Woman: Oh Jesus, oh guh-ness, lemme juss try to help you, okay?

Woman than proceeds to get with me on the back of the couch, and suddenly, the couch lurches forward.

Woman: OH JESUS!
Me: MOM!? Mom, are you okay down there??
Woman: I’m so sarry!
Mom: …Yep! Just… keep pushing!
Woman: Are you ALRIGHT!?
Mom: Yes, I’m fine! Just… Keep pushing!
Woman: Oh Dear Lord, oh Jesus… how old is she? Jesus…
Me: Ugh!- shes’s- UGH- fifty-three?

We keep pushing. I literally don’t know how my mom is accomplishing this. She is fifty three years old. She is in the front, literally holding the couch ABOVE her head by HERSELF… while Woman and I are struggling together with the back. I mean, I know my mom has been working out. She’s been doing these workout tapes at home, and she’s even been drinking this protein vitamin stuff… but in the words of Woman, dear LORD what are they putting in that crap!? She is actually the Hulk.

We finally get down the stairs and start along the winding path back towards the Beast. We’ve swiveled around, so now Woman and I are walking backwards towards the parking lot, leading the way. I trip over my own feet (“Oh JESUS, are you alright!?”) and my bare foot lands- you guessed it- in a mound of fire ants. Keep in mind I am still holding my third of this boat-couch. I try not to scream and wake up the entire apartment community, so I quickly say “Mm hmm!” and brush my foot against my bare leg to try to rid myself of the sand. I don’t bother to look if there are ants on me. I figure if I start to feel burning, I’ll deal with it then.

We get to The Beast. I can’t really describe what happens next because it’s too difficult to put into the written word. But basically it consists of me climbing up over the already positioned items, reorganizing everything, guiding the couch UP and over and INTO The Beast, shoving it through a tiny opening, it getting stuck, changing positions with my mother, climbing over the already precariously balanced couch, helping Woman lift the couch UP and into The Beast, screaming directions at each other, watching two strapping young men walk by who say “Hey need help?” and then when we say sure, they look at the couch and the tiny space we are trying to fit it in and say, “Oh, uh.. actually we have somewhere to be…” and keep walking.

We FINALLY get the couch into The Beast. Only… now that it’s in the truck, my Mom is pinned behind it in the back.

Me: Uh…Mom? Can you get out?
Mom: Um, yeah… just. Hold on.
Me: Do you need us to move anything?
Woman: (glares at me)
Mom: No! I’ve got it. Hold on.

She then proceeds to CLIMB her way out of the truck. Like, literally morphs into a lemur and maneuvers her fifty three year old body in positions that I am not even sure I could get my twenty three year old body to do. Literally, we’re talking heel stretches and toe touches…. She then jumps down from the platform onto the cement.

Mom: Okay! Let’s go get that loveseat!!!
Me: (thinking) Are you on crack?

With Woman’s disgruntled help, and probably the help of annoyed Jesus (“OKAY already! ME! I’ll help you with the couches, just stop saying My name!!!”), we manage to get the loveseat out of the apartment, down the flight of death, through the fire ant wastelands, and UP and into The Beast. There is literally not a single square inch available in the truck. We wave goodbye to Woman’s back. She’s already running back into her apartment and slamming the door behind her. She didn’t sign up for this today, and I don’t blame her for running. We are, once again, back in The Beast.

Me: Mom?
Mom: Yeah honey?
Me: Are you… okay?
Mom: Yeah! Why?
Me: I think I just saw your body do things it hasn’t done in years. You were literally carrying that couch by yourself. Are your arms okay?
Mom: Yep! That’s what working out will do for you! Come on! Let’s go get that bookcase!
Me: Mom, I really, really don’t think there’s enough room for-
Mom: Honey? I have moved SO many times in my life. And believe me- we WILL get that bookcase to fit.
Me: (In a fake German accent) Okay, Helga! I veel trust yew!
Mom: ONWARD!!!

By this time, it’s like 9:45 and completely dark outside. We arrive at our “final destination.” We’re in a little development on a cul de sac. The house that holds my bookcase is completely dark.

Me: Um… is anyone home? D’you think?

As soon as I mutter those words, a buff little man bursts out of the door and shuffles his way down the driveway towards us.

Buff Man: ‘Ello ‘Ello! Welcome! Come een come een! Ve mahst be very very quiet though becahse ze babies are sleeping! Okih? OOOOkih!

He is as German as they come. I look at Mom, and she looks at me, and it takes every ounce of strength in me not to laugh.

Fredrick leads us into his house and shows us the bookcase. We agree that it is gorgeous, just what we’ve been looking for, yes yes we want it, yes really, oh yes we can tell that it’s German, it’s a GREAT piece, yes… And so, Fredrick leaves the room to get some change, and Mom positions herself on one side of the giant heavy bookcase.

Mom: Ready!?

We pick it up and carry it through the house, passing pictures of toddlers and happy smiling faces, careful not to bump it on anything because we don’t want to “wake ze babies!”

Fredrick: (trailing along behind us, whisper-screamed) Wait! Wait! No, no, I wheel help! I wheel help yew!
Mom: (whispered) No, no, it’s fine, we’ve got it…
Fredrick: I help! I help!

He continues to trot along behind us, shouting out that HE WHEEL HELP. We finally get to the back of The Beast. I open the sliding door, and reveal the leaning tower that is my new bedroom furniture and couches. We all stare at it for a second. It’s almost like we’re stunned into a wordless respect for the mountain of items. Then-
Fredrick: Yeeeew… wheel probably not feet this een there. Okey?
Mom: Oh yes we will, there’s plenty of room!
Me: Mom, he may be right…
Mom: (Climbing up onto The Beast) Come on! Lift that up here. There’s some room at the top. Thaat’s right…
Fredrick: Oh no, no no no yew wheel not be able to get theese bookcase een that leetle hole.
Mom: I promise, it will fit. Just lift it up here.
Fredrick: I do not vant to offend yew, baht I reeeelly don’ theenk- I mean, ve cahn try, but…
Mom: (hanging like Spiderman on the side of the mountain of furniture) Yep! Just lift it on up here!
Fredrick: (looking at me) Are yew sure yew can do theese?
Me: Just lift.

Fredrick and I then proceed to lift the heavy, dark, German bookcase ABOVE our heads.

Mom: Thhaaaat’s right, just lift it up here! There’s room!!!

And low and behold, there is. There is room. I don’t know why I ever doubted it. Helga always knows. She always knows. We close the door and thank Fredrick again and again. We start to pull out when suddenly-

Fredrick: Wait! Wait!!!!

I look in the rear view mirror and see him running after us. He has two coronas in his hands.

Fredrick: Here! Take zees weeth yew! Becuss I deedn’t haff change! Two beers, yah?

Don’t have to tell me twice. I grab the beers, thank him again, and then we’re off. Driving home. Finally. After a day of lifting and moving and lugging and grunting and tripping and shoving… we are going home! We have all of the furniture! And yet…

Me: Hey. Um, Helga?
Mom: Yes Olga?
Me:We… still have to move this stuff into the apartment tonight… don’t we?
Mom: YES! Ve sure do!!! But Taylor will be there to help us.

Taylor, my sister’s boyfriend, who has just gotten home from a long day of work, has agreed to help us move the items from the truck up a flight of stairs and into my new apartment. By this point, my arms and body are so exhausted I can’t even feel my fingers when I curl them. I literally have no idea how this is going to happen.

To make a LONG story short, we got the furniture into my apartment. Obviously. But I’m going to leave you with a few pictures, in hopes of illustrating the process.

Taylor The Great



No pain, no gain.Helga and Olga’s Moving Service.


One Response to “Helga and Olga’s Moving Service”

  1. Kirk Sheppard October 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    I am a big fan of your mom! This is a great entry!

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