A few months ago another foreign teacher asked for our help. He had a big cabinet that he wanted moved from the basement of our building to his 2nd-floor apartment in the building next door. It was one of those huge, 80’s era ridiculously heavy office equipment type cabinets that was about 4-feet wide and 6-feet tall. “We’re gonna need some more help,” he said. “Two people can’t do it alone.”
I called up a few of my students and all together there were about 7 people to move it. 4 were actually carrying it, and the rest of us were “supervising.” Carrying it to the other building was hard, but do-able with each person carrying a different corner. Then they had to try to maneuver it through the narrow stairwell. “Lift it higher!” “Lift it lower!” “Lift up the one end.” “Turn this part on it’s side.” It took maybe 30 minutes and left everyone sweaty and panting.
So a few weeks ago when the same teacher announced he was moving apartments (to our building on the 5th floor) and he needed our help again. We groaned. We were happy to move his jars and clothes and little things, but the F&%#$g cabinet? No way. It was just too heavy. Luckily because the school asked him to move, they hired a few hands to move the furniture and it became their problem, not our. We suggested they bring trolleys and carts to make moving the cabinet easier.
But they didn’t. Two skinny local guys showed up to help him move and all they had was a banner they probably found in the trash after some event. (In China they like to hang long red banners with encouraging slogans at every event.) The guy wrapped the banner around the cabinet and himself, tied it off in the front, and just bent over and lifted the whole thing by himself. Â He didn’t use his arms at all, just his back and shoulders. In that position he had no problem navigating the narrow stairwell and before you knew it, the cabinet was safety delivered to the 5th floor.
He was followed by a guy carrying a full sized fridge on his back in the same way. When we got a new fridge in America we had two big burly guys with special belts and ropes and a special system to remove our fridge. But not here, just a skinny middle-aged guy, a stolen banner and five flights of stairs.
If this happened in the west, they would have had special equipment, like a trolley or something with wheels, as well as specific rules for how it can be moved. Hell, when we moved it we whined and complained about how heavy and awkward it was. But not these guys. They were told to move the furniture so they just shut up and did it. Yep, it definitely made me feel like a pussy.