Moving Man

This weekend, after six years of fairly uneventful cohabitation, my roommate moved out. So while everybody else was enjoying a splendid Fourth of July weekend, I was hauling dressers, bookshelves, electronic equipment and an unwieldy mattress up three flights of stairs. When roomie moved into my place back in 2005 he was like an urban monk, with only a suitcase of clothes and a computer to his name. I gave him a bed. But if you stay in one place long enough, possessions have tendency to start multiplying like rabbits. When I awoke the next day to sore muscles and a twitchy knee, I wished my roommate had maintained his former ascetic lifestyle. But all things change.

Making coffee on Tuesday morning, I watch as Buster, my joint custody dog, sniffs around my roommate’s old room, looking for him. Buster has been though four apartments, three jobs, two books and four girlfriends. But he’ll roll with the change. He always does. And when my girlfriend moves in with her Boston Terrier next month they’ll be even more change – the place will get a feminine touch. I’m glad. My Odd Couple bachelor pad was getting kind of lame. But, as a concession to Buster, we’ve decided to keep my ancient and ratty lounge chair in the bedroom. That’s Buster’s favorite place to sleep. I didn’t want to inflict one change too many. As I sip my coffee I look around the apartment. It’s emptier now, but full of the promise of years to come. Then my cell phone breaks into my reflective mood. It’s my ex-roommate.

“Can you do me a favor?” he asks.


“I’m having a sofa delivered to my apartment,” he says. “But I can’t get out of work to let the movers in. Could you do it?”

“Sure. But you got to tip the guys.”

“How much?”

I do a calculation in my head. “One piece, two guys? Ten bucks.”

“Okay,” he says. “I’ll leave the money on my bedroom dresser.”

A few hours later, with the keys to my roommate’s new apartment in hand, I meet the furniture guys in the parking lot.

“Man, it’s hot,” one of the deliverymen, a young fellow wearing a sweat soaked blue bandana says. “Who knew it was going to be this hot?”

“It gets even better,” I say. “You’ve got to haul this thing up three flights of stairs.” The deliveryman looks stricken, but the guys are professionals and get the sofa up into the apartment in five minutes.

“Where do ya want it?” the second delivery guy, says.

“Against the right wall,” I say. When they’re done I inspect the couch for damage, find none and sign an invoice testifying to that fact.

“Okay, sir,” the delivery guy with the bandana says as he picks the packing materials littering the floor. “We’ll be out of here in a sec.”

“Hang on,” I say. I walk into the bedroom. I hope roomie remembered to leave the tip. I went out of the house without any money. Even though he knows I spent many years living on gratuities, roomie’s a bit of a tipping neophyte. I don’t think he’s even read my books. But there, on his dresser, is a crisp twenty-dollar bill.

“Here you go guys,“ I say, handing over the money. “Job well done.”

The second deliveryman’s face brightens. “Thanks, man,” he says, clapping me on the shoulder. “We really appreciate it. Very cool.”

After the men leave I look around my old roommate’s new apartment. It is quiet but also filled with promise. And as I lock the door behind me I can’t help but smile. Twenty bucks?

You have learned well, roomie. You have learned well.

24 thoughts on “Moving Man”

  1. db says:

    Always err on the side of giving too much 🙂

  2. Jacquilynne says:

    Damn. If you think $20 is a generous tip for delivering a sofa, I *massively* overtipped the guys who delivered my sofa last week.

  3. Bob Dobbs says:

    Heh heh heh heh heh. Your roommate has been assimilated… into the Tipping Collective. Good job. Some people don’t think about tipping furniture movers; but considering the wear and tear their bodies take on the job, they deserve it as much as anybody.

    Thanks for the post, and congrats on your new domestic reality. May it be all that you hope for, and more.

  4. Sloot says:

    From a friend who used to deliver appliances, even more than money, offers of water or other beverages are even more appreciated.

  5. cloudia says:

    Yeah, always be generous with folks who work.
    Wonder, though, if your former roomie may have only HAD $20s 🙂

    Glad success has left you moving-furniture-humble.

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral




  6. Amanda Sowards says:

    The force is strong in this one. 🙂

  7. The IT Guy says:

    before i got into IT i worked for a tile shop and used to deliver house tiles, sometime 2 or 3 tonnes on the back of a truck, a couple of guys a box at a time. I can’t remember ever getting a tip! that’s just Australia i guess. Hopefully your tipping neophyte mate wasn’t expecting $10 change 🙂


  8. Waiterrant Fan says:

    That’s what I wondered Cloudia.
    What is the deal there Steve.
    What if you wanted to tip someone $10 but only had $20 dollar notes. Is it gauche to ask for change on a tip?

  9. BKBellman says:

    I’m glad to see you are posting more regularly again! Congrats on your lifestyle change and I wish all the best to you and your lady (as well I hope Buster and his new Boston Terrier friend enjoy each other’s company.)

  10. Wendi says:

    I wondered also if maybe a $20 bill was all he had. But to be honest, if someone said to me, “One sofa, two guys, ten bucks” I would wonder if that meant 10 bucks per guy, you know? So maybe that’s what he thought too. 🙂

  11. guru says:

    Nah. He would have left ten if he wanted too. I’ve known the guy for years.

  12. Barb says:

    Either roomie listened to the weather forecast and took it into account, or he thought you meant ten bucks apiece. Or his knees and back were twinging too, and he figured $10 each was fair for a sofa and three flights of stairs.

  13. JDMDad says:

    Hmmm, need to keep that in mind. I’m moving in two weeks. The Gov’t is moving me (and my family) since I’m relocating for a gov’t job. Since the moving company/movers/etc. are provided by the gov’t, I don’t know how much they are paying, if tip is included, or even how many movers there will be. What’s the tipping protocol in this case?

  14. littlebartender says:

    Glad to have another post again waiter! Always look forward to them.

  15. Bruce in Kansas says:

    Good story. Can’t honestly offer congratulations on your impending shack up, though. The title of the post just below is “Change” and I immediately thought of whether your former room-mate was expecting any. I have to admit I have become a more generous tipper in the years since I’ve been reading your blog.

    It’s good to see more regular posts, waiter!

  16. Barb says:

    JDMDad: The Government almost certainly won’t include a tip, unless the moving company is savvy enough to add it to the bill as a “service charge.”

  17. joe says:

    You taught him well. Congrats

  18. Florida Keys Girl says:

    I agree with all of the above posters… offer a beverage AND tip. Really, it’s hot out. (Well, I DO live in Florida)… happy co-habitating.

  19. Gonçalo Veiga says:

    That is a good story. I was waiting to read at the last paragraph that you had found a ten dollar bill and had given the guys the wrong one, and ultimately, in the end, you had been the won having to pay $10 to your former room mate. Hehe

  20. Aerin says:

    I also moved into a new place over the holiday weekend. It’s pretty much the worst time imaginable to be moving. We didn’t have anyone to tip, though, did everything ourselves.

  21. my honest answer says:

    My first thought was that roomie had just left a $20 on his dresser after emptying his pockets… Hope I’m wrong though (and I’m glad you tipped the dudes with it regardless!)

  22. South County Girl says:

    I think that probably made their day… I didn’t know you were supposed to tip them… looks like I might need to get your book 🙂

  23. beth says:

    Just found out your suppose to tip your tattoo artist who knew?

  24. Bob Jackson says:

    Ola! Waiterrant,
    I know what you mean, Those few words of your post title could be what brings in traffic, making your blog go viral and spreading through the web like wildfire, or scaring all potential readers away, not even giving themselves the chance to discover your well-written gem. While there are only a few words in your blog post title- they are the most powerful words you’ll write. The power here is due to the fact that to most of your readers, the decision as to whether to read the rest of your post relies on them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *