In most civilized populated places, when a citizen needs to relocate their belongings to a site other than the one they currently inhabit, they pack all their goodies up in boxes and simply transport these items elsewhere. In practice this is known as moving. In Manhattan it is known as torture. Daughter happens to be a resident in one of the city’s co-op studio apartments sorely in need of renovating. Finally, the event several years in the planning drew near and the contractor was scheduled to begin. In case you live in one of the aforementioned civilized places and not NYC, here is a brief primer on Co-op Moving.
A co-op building has many rules and an elected board to enforce them. A good many of its regulations may seem harsh, such as “Tenants may not gather socially in the common lobby for more than a half hour,” but for the most part such restrictions are voted into law for the comfort of the building’s residents to prevent things like impromptu rock raves or senior citizen scrabble tournaments. In the absence of actual board members, enforcement of the building’s rules and bylaws falls to the doorman on duty and the superintendent. At one time Daughter’s building employed two Ralphs – Big Ralph the doorman and Little Ralph the superintendent. Big Ralph departed a while back for greener pastures uptown, so the only Ralph left now is the building super, forever known as Little Ralphie.
Studio apartments are bite-sized bits of real estate so renovation requires total contents removal. Total contents removal is identical to moving except that items are relocated to a storage area rather than actual new living quarters. Often these belongings will be separated from their owner for months on end as unexpected added expenses pile up in their absence like bathroom pipe replacement and expiring permits. This is all very upsetting for the belongings who begin to worry they will never see their owner again.
One of the paramount rules of Daughter’s co-op says that Moving Day cannot be on a weekend. This has to do with elevator hogging and lobby quietude and other things too numerous to mention. Like most residents, Daughter must have a job to afford the pleasure of living with her building’s rules, so her relocation was scheduled for this past Friday after her teaching day was over. At 4:00 in the afternoon, a truck containing a storage pod would arrive in front of the building to be loaded as quickly as possible by Daughter and whoever was available to help her. In Daughter’s case, that would be Her Mother who is a grad student and the only person she currently knows not working fulltime.
At 2:30 on Friday, as Her Mother paced the apartment due to be emptied in less than two hours, Daughter called to say she was at a medical facility having an MRI of her head after being kicked by an out-of-control student. The pod had to be canceled. The construction crew was still coming on Monday. Daughter arrived home at 5:30 with the news that her head was intact but we could now lose our minds. Five phone calls later, there were no available U-Hauls in the area. Daughter called Son who said he and Girlfriend would rent a U-Haul in their suburb and come to help Saturday morning. Daughter’s boyfriend was onboard. A niece and her boyfriend were recruited for a fun day of schlepping her cousin’s stuff around the city. I offered Son’s old bedroom at our home for storage. Saturday would now be Daughter’s default moving day. We were about to break the co-op’s strictest law: Thou shalt not move on a weekend. Instead of Ocean’s Eleven, we were Daughter’s Seven.
Our mission was cursed from the start. New York had a record 56 inches of snow in January. Cars can barely get close enough to the curb to park let alone load. Son went to pick up the U-Haul and spent 45 minutes digging it out of snow and ice. It had no side view mirror on the passenger door. Girlfriend was undeterred. She can drive a U-Haul like an Israeli commando operates a tank.
Twenty minutes into the relocation heist Little Ralphie appeared at the U-Haul to tell us we were done. A board member out walking her dog saw the truck and complained that a rule was being flaunted. He said to move the vehicle into the underground parking garage and load it from the basement. This made things approximately 100% more difficult. The U-Haul had only inches of clearance. The attendant told very capable Girlfriend to let him maneuver it. We all went upstairs to make more trips. He left the lights on and no one noticed. The battery died. A resident needed to get his car out and our dead truck was in the way.
Little Ralphie reappeared. This was bad, he said. Daughter could expect A Letter From The Board. A light snow began to fall. The U-Haul barreled uptown to drop boxes at Daughter’s friend Blue’s apartment where she will be staying for the next two months. Pizza was consumed on the run. Then Son’s old bedroom was filled floor to ceiling like a Jenga grid. Somewhere along the way darkness had fallen with the snow. Not even a co-op board can stop the night.
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