Moving a Couch – A How To Guide


This past weekend, I helped a friend move apartments to get away from her (now thankfully ex) crazy alcoholic roommate. This was my first time ever helping anyone move a significant amount of stuff—I’ve lived in the same house since I was three, and I don’t consider moving out from college to actually count as “moving.”

What an adventure. She showed up at my house bright and early at almost 11 in the morning, after sending a desperate text about “My friend with the big truck can’t come to help me move and I don’t know what to do!” Okay, breathe. We can go to UHAUL and rent a moving van, no biggie. I know there’s a UHAUL somewhere along Route X, all we have to do is find it. A half hour later we finally found the UHAUL, after I had been successfully bribed with a creme frappucino, a cheese danish, and two lollipops which she’d nicked from the bank on her way over to meet me. We found it, by the way, as I gave haphazard directions to pull into a 7/11 parking lot the back way so we could park and get out her GPS, since we’re both rubbish with directions.

We successfully rented a van and were soon on our jolly way back to her apartment to start moving stuff. Have I mentioned that I was running on three hours of sleep? Because I was. I’d taken a three hour nap the night before, but I am a night person currently, I’m not meant to be awake at such ridiculous times as noon. The horror of it.

The first thing that needed to be brought down and into the van was the couch. It was really more of a two person loveseat, but for all intents and purposes, for two average build 23 year old girls, it was a whole fricking couch. Of course, we were supposed to have backup, but everyone she had called had given a range of excuses—visiting friends, being out of town, playing golf, already having something scheduled, and one guy who was helping his girlfriend with her baking business. Which would have been very sweet if it hadn’t left us a bit shorthanded and sleep deprived.

After it had been de-pillowed and wrenched onto its side, we carried it down the half flight of stairs, almost squishing me into the walls and nearly clipping her fingers in the process. Then, we ran into a problem. The house was laid out so that the front door opens onto a tiny landing with one set of stairs going up and one set going down, both half a flight long. And we couldn’t get the couch around the handrail for the stairs going up, it just simply wouldn’t fit around. We could have lifted it over the handrail and out the door of course, if we had more people.

“Okay, break,” I said, sweaty and now half leaning the couch on the floor, half precariously balancing on the steps. There HAD to be some way to get this couch out of the door, we agreed. So, we took it back up the stairs and turned it around, hoping that if we didn’t have the hard back against the railing, perhaps there would be a way to pivot it around. After I nearly fell down the stairs bringing it back down—not a good idea to have me on the bottom in slippery shoes—we ended up resting it on the landing, still stuck around the railing, balanced completely vertically on a step.

While my friend took a break to try and figure out the physics of this, perhaps we could lift it over the railing after all, I went for the old fashioned “grab and yank” and miraculously, got the couch around the railing with not even an inch to spare.

After much cheering, we were finally able to get the couch out and loaded onto the moving truck, before going back for the rest of the things. But the day was still far from over.

After we drove to her new apartment, we scoped the place out and realized that there was no way the two of us would be able to get the couch into the new apartment. This one was on the second floor of an old building, with a very tall, narrow staircase with narrow steps—the toes of my boots hung over the edge of the steps with my heel pressed all the way back. The staircase, from the railing to the wall, was narrower than the width of the couch. We needed help.

The next logical step was to take a break for lunch. We then proceeded to text everyone we could think of to see if they had even 15 minutes free to come help, and were blown off by golf, feigned excuses and prior committments. Eventually, she called her boyfriend, who was at a wedding 4 hours upstate and he then texted a friend of his who lives nearby and agreed to come help. Meanwhile, I somewhat shanghaied my father and brother into coming over and helping us with it, and by shanghaied I mean I begged and pleaded profusely.

So, by the time her boyfriend’s friend showed up we had almost gotten everything else out of the van, only to discover that he had been tricked into helping. The message he had gotten was something along the lines of “Hey, my girlfriend is moving and we need help with her couch, wanna stop by?” Completely neglecting the point that he himself, was not, in fact, there at the time.

Between my father and said friend, they got the couch up the stairs alright, only knocking one picture off the wall in the process. However, we then discovered that the doorframe was about the exact width as the couch. The only solution any of us could think of was taking the door completely off its hinges, which we proceeded to do post-haste.

Stuffing the unremovable cushions in as far as they would go, it took copious amounts of shimmy-ing and wiggling but eventually, we were victorious. Picture frame restored, and all references to “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” concluded, I proceeded to turn around and inform my friend that, as much as I love her, when she moves out of this apartment, we had better get some more reliable people to come and assist because I was certainly not going through that again.

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