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Good things


It was a good thing the stairs leading up to my Main Street apartment in Solon were extra wide, because during the decade I lived there many large objects including a piano, a heavy hide-a-bed sofa, an oversized couch and a series of 12-foot tall Christmas trees got moved up the steps.
The piano, an old upright given to me by a local family, was by far the heaviest object to go up those stairs. Luckily, I had enough common sense to pay movers from West Music. I did help, however, by holding the door open while two beefy young men pushed and grunted the Steinway up the steps. At the top they had to tip it on its side to get it through the door, and for one brief second it looked like they were going to lose control of the load and send it crashing back down at me. Inertia, or perhaps karma, prevailed and we had a piano.
I picked up the old hide-a-bed for a song at an auction and some bar buddies helped me move it up the stairs for a few beers. One of the nice things about living in a small town like Solon is that you can usually get about as much help as you need for the price of a six-pack. For example, the city’s long-time garbage man– or, if you prefer, sanitation engineer– was famous for picking up just about anything in exchange for Budweiser products. Need something extra large removed? Just put a 12-pack under it. For a case, you could get a collapsed garage hauled away.
The oversized couch belonged to a girlfriend, the first gal that showed any interest in me since my divorce a couple years earlier. I met her while getting prescription glasses. We flirted, we dated a couple of times and the next thing I knew she was moving in and replacing my old Goodwill furniture with her newer and nicer stuff.
But the item that got moved up those steps the most was the annual Christmas tree purchased at Handley’s Holiday Hillside outside of town. The apartment was an old dance hall and featured a tin relief ceiling, a full 12 feet above the floor. Taking advantage of this extra room I always made it a point to get a tree that was at least 12 feet tall. The extra height also meant it was extra wide and it would typically scrape both sides of the walls along the steps on the way up. It wasn’t heavy but it was very awkward.
Note that to this point in my story I’ve only used the word “up” and never the word “down” while listing things moved on the stairs. That’s because the back door of my second floor apartment led to the top of the single story addition in back. So I could go out my back door, walk onto the roof of someone else’s apartment and toss trash to the alley below. Fortuitously, the landing pad was next to the garbage cans.
We used this route for taking out the trash all the time. The trick was get to it before the bag got too full. Drop a full bag off the roof and it bursts on impact, creating more work than it saves. A three-quarters filled bag, on the other hand, drifted down and landed with a soft plop ready for pickup. It was a great shortcut, and we began using it frequently. The practice was especially good for removing the old Christmas trees, which had gone dry and brittle during the season. It was actually kind of fun, and the annual tossing of the tree became a little holiday ritual.
I often think some of our country’s problems could be solved with similar back-door approaches. Instead of building a wall to curb illegal immigration, for example, why don’t we just send to jail anyone getting caught employing undocumented workers?
But I digress. The purpose of this column was to tell you about the night we tossed out the old hide-a-bed. It was the same night the beer belly brigade helped me move in the new couch. The “in” part of the job was complete by 8 p.m., but the “out” part didn’t start until a sizeable amount of suds had been sucked down. Around 11 p.m., the cooler of beer went empty, and I told the boys it was time to do the hide-a-bed. Four men each grabbed a corner and stumbled out the back door, staggered to the edge and dropped the heavy hunk over without ceremony.
Who the lads were I don’t remember, but I do recall that Todd, the tenant below, came running out of his apartment in his underwear yelling “earthquake” seconds after the operation was completed.
“Go back to bed,” I yelled down to Todd, “it’s only raining furniture.” He rubbed his bleary eyes, looked at me, then the crew, then the splattered hide-a-bed and decided the whole thing was too crazy to try to grasp. “Oh, okay,” he said drearily, and stumbled back to bed.
It was good thing we hadn’t tossed the piano.