I have been in the business of moving people since my early teens. It has supported my family and I for over 20 years and I am grateful for that, but at times I have become frustrated with certain aspects of it. This relationship has been an off-again, on-again love affair that has allowed me to interact with many different people, in many different countries. I can say that I love this business even if, at times, I ache so badly that I exist in an Advil laced stasis for days, or even weeks at a time. This hasn't stopped me from continually dipping my feet back into the industry after extended breaks as I view this line of work as my fallback trade.
While it is true that anyone can pick up a dresser, move a box and carry a piano, I can state with a certain level of experience that becoming a mover requires a high level of training, commitment and love for the industry. In any industry there are skills necessary to develop a level of aptitude that qualifies you as a professional or a professional in training. Those same ideologies seem to be lacking in some practitioners of our industry. Moving, to outsiders, can be seen as an approachable alternative to labor, where the basic requirements seem to only be not breaking other people's belongings. You simply pick things up and put them down. This is not so. A trade could be considered any vocation that a person commits to. It requires significant training and is of a manual, physical nature. An example: Most computer programmers would not be considered trades-people, but a brick layer would. Examining this idea, I would consider myself a trades-person as I work as a mover in this saturated industry.
Moving furniture has a unique learning curve when a person first enters into the trade. Most first-timers are given menial tasks: Pick up that box and put it over there, run grab me a pad, help me with this... These tasks are given to build confidence, awareness and a general "feel" for the job. It is a commonality in construction trades, skilled workers slowly introduce the skills needed to accomplish pieces of the job until enough knowledge is gained to understand the philosophy of why the tasks should be completed in a specific manner. These lessons ensure work is completed correctly and that the worker does not have the opportunity to cause irreparable damage to goods or harm others. You wouldn't want a person who had just started constructing your kitchen, would you?! Here is the failblog giving us a good example of what a poorly trained professional can produce: http://failblog.cheezburger.com/thereifixedit/tag/contractor
As you grow in this business you move past the mundane and get involved in the specialty associated with expertise. What most clients do not recognize is the technique necessary to pick up heavy goods for long hours and not collapse. I had a job once where we had a 3rd floor stair carry of a brass board piano. It was ridiculously heavy and took myself and my partner nearly 2 hours to haul up it the stairs and get it into its resting place. I remember the feeling of completing the task successfully and the look on the owner's face once we went to gather a signature for the bill. We were sweat covered and shaking from near exhaustion and our effort was well received. The client was amazed but had no clue as to the delicate, 2-hour dance that had occurred on their staircases. My partner and I were well trained and talked each other through each step of each stair. To give an illustration of what stresses we went through: The person on the bottom of the 500-pound piano must have complete trust in the person guiding the front up the stairs. One misstep, they could destroy the home where the move is being done or worse, they could be killed if control is lost.
On an aside here is a funny link. Check out this video to see what poorly skilled movers can do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAp9UY1ccys
Moving away from the skill necessary to do this job, there are other aspects that can influence the outcome of a person's ability to complete this job. I have known great people who thought they could skirt the law and operate without proper insurance or licenses. This is so dangerous, not only for the person who unwittingly hired these "professionals" but also for the person who is trying to conduct business this way. The homeowner can lose their kitchen table or, even worse, their entire household's belongings in a single "Act of God". The way to operate a business is something that is lost in most trades now. The person who has taken on the responsibility of the apprentice has a duty to ensure, not only an amazing education in the trade/work selected, but also has the responsibility to educate their heir in a way that they will become successful business people outside of their time in training.
Our Western ideologies about work and the practices inside of the trades we utilize for our income have been lost in the industrialization of our economy. Everything is bigger, better, faster. In my opinion, those who have signed on for an apprenticeship attempt to become professionals too early. There is a want for those involved to prove themselves and to get out from under the tutelage of their mentor. Money can sometimes be a factor, pride more often than not is what drives these separating factors. If you look outside of North America, the time for training is greater than what we currently require trades people to endure to ensure proper education. Here is a couple links that explain some differences:
So why did this happen? Where did we lose our way?
I think it has something to do with commercialization and media. Every show on HGTV, along with other TV shows, magazines and even social media gives users/consumers a false sense of hope that any person can tackle even the most difficult of tasks. These sources of inspiration show us the drama of how to do something wrong. When confronted with this blatant disregard of procedure the viewer/consumer is left with only the possibility of how to do it correctly. It's the process of elimination. - "Well, if this is the only way something can go wrong, I must be able to do it right!" This logic when described in this fashion seems insane but we see it in everyday life. Go to Home Depot or hang out at a UHaul location for a few hours. There is a great chance that you will run into a professional utilizing their services, but I can guarantee that you will run into a hobby-ist attempting something that should be left to the professionals.
The aftermath of such attempts by amateurs leaves the professionals with the task of cleaning up the work left behind. If you tally up the costs of the attempt by the unprofessional with the fix by the certified professional, the costs of the job skyrocket. This increase in cost is attached to all services and goods when transferred in sale or trade to another. There is always the emotional quotient that adds value and pride is expensive.
How can we fix it?
There is a simple answer.
For those working in a trade: Slow down. Learn everything that you can. Train your apprentice to honor your traditions and skills. Support quality over quantity. Educate the consumer.
For those receiving services: Research the best. Do not pick the lowest quoted price. Educate yourself in the absence of proper information. Leave the tasks to those who are better trained than you are.
Trades are something that should not be overlooked by society as a lesser than option for those not wanting to pursue collegiate education. The training that is attached to trades is equivalent to obtaining a Master's degree and should be given the same respect. Those who have gone through the process of being trained by a Master and have gone into the world need to step up and be recognized and organized. Movers are no different than those who build your houses or fix your toilets. Quality practicers can make your move a thing of worry-free beauty and those who are not so well trained... well...