Westward Bound: Moving out and moving on

Seth Culp-Ressler/Features Editor
Seth Culp-Ressler/Features Editor
Seth Culp-Ressler/Features Editor

By Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor

Welcome to the Continuing Misadventures of a Displaced Duquesne Student, a series in which Features Editor Seth Culp-Ressler grapples with his newfound life off-campus. For the veterans of apartment life, feel free to laugh at his incompetence. For non-veterans, perhaps the mistakes he chronicles are valuable lessons.

Chapter One: The Move

I’m sitting in the passenger seat of the moving truck, engine on, door open, face shoved as close as possible to the air conditioning vent. As it turns out, moving into a third floor walkup in the middle of a heatwave isn’t the most enjoyable thing in the world.

In my defense, I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. I had to be back in Pittsburgh to start the year’s work for this fine publication known as The Duquesne Duke. The date was set, like it or not.

I found myself cooling off in that seat a few hours and a few hundred miles away from where I woke up that morning, in my hometown of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Five hours of tunnels, endless straightaways and winding mountain passes on the PA Turnpike — made tolerable by a constant stream of podcasts — led me to the crowded and cramped streets of the South Side Flats.

Three days earlier I received word from U-Haul that the 10-foot truck I had requested wasn’t going to be available for me to use. As it turns out, the beginning of the academic year is a high-volume time for renting moving trucks. In retrospect, that isn’t too surprising. After all, I can’t be the only one moving, right? We’re all just trying to get where we’re going.

So, instead of a reasonable-for-my-amount-of-stuff 10-foot truck, I was gifted a 15-foot monster. Now, to be fair, the name isn’t quite representative of the size jump. I was actually dealing with two and a half feet more in length and just under a foot and a half more width.

On the open expanses of the Turnpike, this was no issue. Check your mirrors. Watch as far down the road as possible. Stick to the right lane. Check your mirrors. Rinse. Repeat.

A foot and a half more width is a different beast when trying to squeeze between two street-parked cars on a one-way South Side alleyway. It’s truly a miracle that no rearview mirrors met an untimely, U-Haul-induced demise that day.

Of course, getting to the apartment was only half of the battle. A U-Haul is great for its efficiency in moving all your junk but incredibly inefficient when it’s time to find a place to park the thing. Double that fact since it was a 95 degree Saturday and everybody was home, inside, cars parked where I would have loved to plop my oversized metal box.

Luckily, I had a plan. With the help of Google Streetview (note: my roommate found and toured this apartment. I had never even been on the street before) I knew that directly to our building’s left was a small driveway. “No Parking” signs tried to stave off any ideas, but, hey, we’d only be there for an hour.

That was fine until an employee of the business we currently blocked came in to work. Yet — and I will be eternally thankful for this — he was feeling nice and gave us half an hour to stay. Of course, this meant my roommate and I had to finish the job, which was already taking its toll, under a deadline. During the hottest part of the day. During a heat wave.

I’ll spare you the details, but needless to say the following thirty minutes consisted of copious amounts of sweat, insufficient hydration and an undeniable certainty that Saturday, August 13, 2016 was the day I would die.

Yet, as evidenced by these very words, that fate (somehow) didn’t happen. We managed to get all my belongings inside, and my reservations about fitting a bulky couch up the narrow staircases were even proven wrong.

By 1:30 a.m. I was unpacked, organized and beyond tired. Against all odds, my “Great Moving Nightmare” was done. I was relieved as my head hit the pillow. That is, until I realized that I still had to figure out how to survive in this alien-to-me life of complete independence.

That, however, is a story for another time.