Book Review - The Long Haul

Linda, our resident reader, just finished The Long Haul: A Trucker’s Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy and shares her thoughts on this "moving" tale.

The Long Haul by Finn Murphy

The Long Haul by Finn Murphy

Ever wonder as you are driving down I-95 about all the trucks you pass? Why do the trucks have to stop to be weighed?  How many hours are the truck drivers allowed to drive? Drivers sleep in their truck, is it comfortable? How can they possibly fit all my stuff in one moving van? The Long Haul is an auto-biography by Finn Murphy. Written with wit and humor, it details his life as a teenager in Cos Cob, Connecticut attending Colby College and dropping out to be a professional mover. The money is good, high-end movers can make up to $250,000 per year. Murphy is passionate, meticulous and happiest in the truck. He operates a 70 foot tractor trailer moving van, and is known as the “Great White Mover.” You will find out that ‘chowder” refers to problem pieces which do not fit neatly in the truck, “chicken chokers” are truckers that move animals, hitting a bridge is called “getting a haircut,” “ parking lot attendants” transport cars and “suicide jockeys” carry hazardous materials. Movers like Murphy are called” bedbuggers” and their trucks, “roach coaches.”

Murphy weaves a tale of the history of moving along with his personal story. Murphy states “when you move people and pack their stuff, you see how people really live, not how they want the neighbors to think they live.” People accumulate  lots of possessions through the years. For example, think of all the items in your home. Right now it all seems important and everything is valuable. Movers take great care to move your possessions carefully,  trying not damage anything. What movers and professional organizers both know is what Murphy states, “what my customers need to know is that it’s not the stuff, but the connection with people and family and friends that matter.” Another commonality with professional organizers is that Murphy has seen less and less stemware, china, sculpture, fine art, and books over the years. The younger generation moves more frequently and tends not to accumulate what the baby boomer generation has stored in their homes. With honesty, Murphy tells us that when asked to pack lingerie drawers, the movers occasionally will go through peoples clothing. Murphy’s recommendation: “either to pack your erotica yourself or salt the lingerie drawer with plastic snakes or a loaded mousetrap.”

Being a long haul mover is hard work. Both physical and mental. Physical as movers spend 10-14 hours a day carrying heavy loads up and down stairs and working in the truck to build “tiers”  that will best fit all the contents. Something similar to a puzzle or a giant game of Tetris. We learn that the best movers are people who build the best tiers in their truck. Contents are always inventoried and stickers put on every item that is being moved. Every item must be cataloged by the original condition in the event that a shipper files a damage claim. Beds and large furniture get taken apart last, all covered in moving pads for protection. “A well -built tier is a beautiful things to see and lots of fun to make” says Murphy. On top of the physical challenges, the job is mentally challenging, because the client is usually present, and the mover has to act professional, represent the company and keep the client calm and relaxed. Moving as we all know can be very stressful, so this is not always an easy task.

Through the years Murphy has been treated poorly by many of the clients.  Most clients treat movers as if they were anonymous. One client asked them to drive the truck  to the security shed 2 miles away to use the bathroom, even though there were plenty of bathrooms available in the house. Another client sat there and filmed the entire move and took notes while they were working. “Be nice to your movers, what we do care about is making your transition into a new life and place as easy as possible by being professional and sympathetic” writes the author.

As Americans seem to want to learn more about people who have different professions, the book is well written and serves to educate us on the moving industry and the people who work it daily. You will develop a new appreciation for those who drive trucks on the open road, work extremely hard and are truly professionals in their field.

Tip: Next time you move you may want to buy the movers lunch!


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