It is difficult to be lonely when you’re sharing the cab of a moving truck with two other guys. However, when the guys fall asleep on the long country roads of rural Ontario, it feels like it’s just me and the road again.
A few days prior to the province-wide shut down due to COVID-19, I was asked if I would take a few days to help the piano moving company attached to Paul Hahn and Co. by driving the truck. The regular truck driver and moving lead was busy delivering a piano to my home province of Nova Scotia. I love driving, so this sounded great. There are some very valuable things I quickly learned during my two days as a truck driver and piano mover.
As the driver of a car, I know how big it is, and I know that I can look over my shoulder to see if there is a car along side of me. I know that if I prod my foot into the accelerator, I’ll be whisked off in a seamless wave of torque. This is not true of driving a 15 foot moving truck. Even after two days I couldn’t be sure where the back of the truck was, there was no wave of torque with my right foot mashed to the floor, and I wanted to scream obscenities at everyone who cut me off because they could, and they did. Lesson learned. Give those who are driving large vehicles plenty of space. Allow them to merge on the highway, and do not cut them off only to pile on the brakes because of impatience. These things are obvious, but it becomes even more so when you’re behind the wheel of said large vehicle.
Piano movers are marvels of brute strength and laws of physics. The last move of the first day was a nightmare, until we encountered the first move of the second day. Both pianos needed to go up very long flights of stairs. The last piano of the first day was a huge Heintzman upright. The stairs were a straight flight on the outside of the house to a second floor apartment. My biggest fear was that we would get half way up and the whole staircase would let go from the side of the house; the movers were concerned they were going to miss the rugby match. 30 minutes after arriving, the piano was in its new home, and the boys were going to get to watch their rugby match. The first move on the second day essentially involved bending a piano. It was the only way I could see it making it up the set of stairs in front of us. It was a smaller Heintzman console upright, and the issue with the set of stairs to the second floor apartment was a landing where the direction of the stairs changed. The plan was to get the piano on its side, which meant it had to be lifted onto each step, while also being pushed into an increasing vertical angle. Long story short, these two motions were counterproductive. The first attempt was fruitless, so the piano came back down to level ground. This was a day the movers were thankful for a piano technician being on hand. I took as many parts off the piano as I could, and while in the end it didn’t seem like much, the reduction of 50 pounds and an inch or two of casework made enough difference that we were able to get it onto the landing and up the stairs into its new home.
I hope both of these pianos never need to come back down… at least while I’m driving the truck.
Christopher Ritcey-Conrad, usually a Paul Hahn piano technician