Sorry about the title, but I wanted to signal a lighter tone this week. I helped my new neighbours (the mother of the family is, if I may use the expression, hugely pregnant) move in on Friday, which gave rein to some nostalgic thoughts.
When my wife, Linda, was living and working as a single girl in Prince George years ago, she knew a guy who seemed to move a lot. Every couple of months he’d have a new address. He was a decent guy with a good job, so he wasn’t stiffing his landlords. She and her friends wondered what was the deal.
Turned out he was brought up in a well-to-do family in South Africa. As such, he had very high standards for the cleanliness and neatness of his quarters. The flip side of his upbringing was that he always used to have servants to maintain his rooms. So every couple of months the cleanliness of his new apartment would fall below his exacting demands. He had no way to deal with it, so he would move to a new place. Everyone told him the solution was to get married, but for some reason none of the girls were interested.
On the Subject of Marriage,
Moving right along, my soon-to-be wife moved back to Vancouver. She and her roommate then moved rather frequently (not for similar reasons, I hasten to add) as the young and up-and-coming tend to do. Every 18 months or so the call would come out to all the guys in the group, and whoever was available would go over and move the ladies to their new home.
The story goes that in the middle of the final move the girls sat down for a heart-to-heart. Reality was staring them in the face.
“We’ve asked Gordon to move us too many times. I think the next time he’s going to refuse. What are we going to do?”
“There’s only one solution. One of us will have to marry him.”
According to their tale, they drew straws and Linda lost. The next move was me, moving in with them.
Fast-forward a year. I now have a Teaching Certificate and a new wife and I’m moving to Mackenzie, a small town in northern BC where I could easily get a job. In those days the deal was that you taught in a remote town for two years, and then they would find you a job in Prince George as a reward. So two years after that I packed the contents of our apartment and my 8-months-pregnant wife into a U-Haul and moved to our new house in the Big City.
We had friends in Mackenzie to help load out the apartment, but down in town we knew nobody. I had to do the load-in myself. And get the rental truck returned by the deadline, of course. No pressure.
But we had been in a small apartment, so we didn’t have much junk. Our only bulky possession was one of those rolling dishwashers that you attached to the sink faucet when you wanted to run it.
It was a three-step rise to the kitchen door, at a right angle to the truck, so the washer had to roll down the ramp into the carport, then somehow get lifted back up to the kitchen.
The nice, long ramp refused to detach from the truck, so I built a shorter one with some planks I found. However, it was too steep for me to just push the washer up.
I solved this through ingenious use of simple machines, just like I taught in Grade 6 Science. I placed a plank across the inside of the doorjamb and tied a rope to it. Then I led the rope around the washer and back up the ramp to inside the kitchen. Linda couldn’t pull, but with the double purchase and the friction, she could hold the rope.
So I pushed, and she took up and held the slack while I got a new grip. Then I pushed again. Slowly, we inched the washer up the ramp. We had a bit of a scramble at the top, when the machine was coming through the door with the plank in the way, but we made it, returned the truck on time, and everything worked out fine. Until bedtime.
While I had been carrying boxes and moving furniture, Linda was planning our lives. The walls in what she had designated the baby’s room were covered with the most god-awful wallpaper. So I was informed, in the sweetest of terms, that she just wouldn’t be able to sleep while she knew that wallpaper was down the hall, desecrating His or Her Majesty’s room.
A guy does what he has to do, especially when his wife is pregnant. By midnight, the wallpaper was in the trash, our waterbed was filled with not-quite-warm-yet water, and we were moved in.
Back to the Present
The finale of Friday’s move? My new neighbours were grateful for my help, and happy that they had moved near such nice people. I told them that for ten years I had been the go-to guy for everyone with those little problems that old people find so hard to cope with. I noted that the husband of this couple is a young tradesman, probably very handy with all sorts of things. I warned them that the brownie points I was chalking up would be cashed in at some time in the future.
They said that they would be pleased to give me the chance to amass a whole bunch more.
So we have that straight, I guess.
Welcome to the neighborhood, Judith, Devin, Magnus, and the new baby.
A note from last week; is #MeToo losing momentum? Well, it seems not. Patrick Brown’s bid to re-take his job lasted one week, and now he’s back in the obscurity he so richly deserves. So far, so good.
And I take no pleasure in the latest revelation in the BC political arena. The newest charges have been laid against a member of a political party I detest. However, the man charged comes from my small community up north. His grandfather did business with my father. His father did business with my brother. I don’t know the grandson, but my heart goes out to his family. And to his victims, because I probably know their families, as well.
The winners will be the potential victims who will be spared down the road. And that makes it all worthwhile.