How Famous Movers get Famous
Working for a moving company may not be the most common route to fame for an aspiring actor. However, there are more famous movers than you might think. And while most movers don’t make it in show business, it’s a trajectory more common than you’d think. Just ask Rainn Wilson, the actor who played Dwight Schrute on The Office for nine years.
In 2015, Wilson released The Bassoon King, an autobiography of sorts. In the book, he has a section called “Shitty Jobs.” The provocatively titled chapter expounds upon the menial labor jobs he’s done over the years and how, by showing him the grueling and not-so-lucrative alternative to success, these gigs gave the actor extra motivation to succeed in show business.
He lists jobs as varied as Berry Picker, Delivery Truck Driver, Cookie Chef, Dishwasher, Dog Walker, and Acting Teacher. He even a job counting vehicles in the car pool lane for a study at the University of Washington.But we’re a moving company, of course. So no job was more interesting than his time running as a mover. On pages 139-140, Wilson writes the following:
With the money my wife and I got for getting married in 1995, we bought a 1982 Chevy cargo van.
This van was our meal ticket (and instant camping spot) for the next three years. I could place a Village Voice ad for $27 or tack up a few flyers on telephone poles (with those tearable phone numbers on the bottom) and get more work than I knew what to do with. I would charge $65 an hour for me and the van, and then an additional $25 an hour for an extra mover. (This was also really fun for me, because I could hire my friends to work with me and joke around as we “hauled cube.”)
Cash. Off the books. That’s right, folks, I’m a tax cheat.
You see, mid-Americans, New Yorkers move all the time, and because their apartments are so minuscule, they don’t really have that much stuff. The man with a van was a cheap, quick, and easy way to move your futon, books, lamp, and suitcases from one apartment to another.
True to my ever-questing spiritual identity, I called this endeavor the Transcendent Moving Company, and my tagline was “A man, a van, a sense of Higher Purpose.” The flyer had a cute little van with wings on it.
Even though I was woefully skinny and out of shape, I became an expert mover and van packer. People would look askance when this gawky, gangly, pale dude with a big head would show up to move all their crap, but quickly their minds would be blown. What they didn’t see was that I was wiry/strong back in those days and was like a box-wielding, stair-maneuvering mongoose. I would haul sofas and bed frames and bookshelves and trunks up and down four-story staircases in every borough. I would fill and empty the van in impossible combinations like it was Tetris on wheels. I would strap mattresses on the roof with bungee cords and whiz up and down avenues and over bridges, cutting off taxis and blasting Wilco on the tape deck.
We’re based in Massachusetts and do not perform interstate moves. But we do sympathize with the plight of the New York mover. The biggest city in the United States is more densely packed than our own Somerville. And Manhattan’s many fourth- and fifth-floor walk ups have tight turns and no elevators (like Boston’s North End). And that’s not to mention all the vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic that movers have to navigate on the streets of the five boroughs.
And we certainly would not recommend using bungees to strap a mattress to the roof of a car. However, we do relate to Wilson’s depiction of the contrast between himself and his customers’ expectations of movers. Time and again, we’ve learned that becoming a successful mover has little to do with being big and strong. Spacial awareness, physical endurance, clear communication, and emotional fortitude are the most important traits for movers.
If you can’t maneuver an inflexible box spring through a narrow stairwell, it doesn’t matter how strong you are. Indeed, lifting dead weight is a simple up-and-down transaction. But moving in concert with another mover, synchronizing your steps and avoiding light fixtures and sudden incursions of pets? Anonymous and famous movers alike know that that “higher purpose” requires more.
We’re happy to know that Mr. Schrute understands that.