How to travel with big furniture and tiny cars

May 19, 2012

Today on the freeway I passed a mustang convertible, top down, with about 6 patio chairs crammed in the backseat at odd angles. The driver who, for some reason in all his 50+ years of living did not have a better solution, must’ve figured that his wife holding on to the legs of one of the chairs counted adequately in place of a tie-down strap.

I will say that one thing I’ve taken for granted since meeting Chris is the convenience of a pickup truck. Between him and his friends, there is always someone with some way to move lots of stuff from point A to point B.

Back in my single days, this wasn’t always the case. I did have a hatchback car which I took full advantage of, but a hatchback car is still a car, and therefore has its limitations. Like the time I decided I needed a new TV.

I had just graduated college, packed up all my things, and moved to Los Angeles. No job, no prospects for a job, no plan, and only a tiny savings to keep me fed, clothed, and housed until I found employment. Because the old TV was one of the sacrifices I made in the move, I decided a new TV was in order.

I found one at Wal-Mart for about $300. Keep in mind, this was before the flat-screen era, so this baby was 42” of cathode ray tube-style fun:

(This is not the actual TV)

Seeing as how I had just moved, I had no friends or contacts in the city. I happily let the nice Wal-mart salespeople load up the TV on to my cart, paid for my purchase (hello credit card), and sauntered out to my Mitsubishi Eclipse GS and popped open the hatchback. I realized at once I had a problem:
I couldn’t lift the TV out of the cart to place it in my vehicle. 
I managed to overcome this problem by standing there for a bit, looking sad and lost and confused, until finally one of the skinny teenaged boys that are forever running around collecting the shopping carts came over and the two of us heaved it into the back of my car. I realized that I now had another problem:
The TV was so big that I couldn’t shut my hatchback closed. 
The pimply-faced teenager was looking around, like some bungee cords were going to magically appear. They didn’t. I took pity on him and explained that I wasn’t going very far, so “I would just drive slow” and the kid left to go corral more shopping carts. I managed to sort of keep the hatchback closed by tying it down with a contraption made of elastic hair bands and a plastic shopping bag. I figured it would do for the 8 or so blocks that I had to travel.

I made it to my new apartment without incident, but was again faced with another problem:
How to get the TV out of my car and into my apartment.  By myself, now.
I couldn’t carry it – it was far too heavy. Thankfully I was on the ground floor, so I didn't have to manage any stairs, I just had to navigate from my parking space in the back of the building around to the front door.  In the back alley, there was still a stack of empty boxes that I had recently set out there after unpacking my things. I grabbed a box, broke it down to a flat piece of cardboard, and set it behind my car. I very carefully (re: a lot of grunting and heaving) rolled the TV out of the back of my car and on to the cardboard. Somehow managing not to have it come crashing down on to the pavement.  The cardboard then became a “sled” upon which I dragged the TV all the way around the building and into the front door of my apartment.

It was a successful move. Idiotic, but successful.

Although I must say that story pales in comparison to the time we moved a whole bed – mattress, boxspring and all – using only my friend’s Honda Civic and some ingenuity. But we’ll save that story for another day.

Incidentally, here is a photo of the actual TV, in that very apartment.  We won't comment on the VCR or cassette-tape player stereo system or the Nintendo DS, all of which were already on the verge of being outdated when the photo was taken.

Nor will we make mention of the fact that I owned an actual candelabra and a cat-shaped fan-pull.  The beer mirror that I picked up on a sidewalk sale in downtown Seattle should at least earn me back some coolness points.