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A Day (or More) in the Life of a Removalist

For 30 years, since 1976, your life has gone like this:


You start your week by jumping into your truck at 5.30am on Saturday morning. You drive round to your offsider's house (... he's lost his licence and doesn't drive see..) to pick him up and drive to work.

Your first job is another hour away on the other side of town. Your offsider is not there. His sleeping father says he's not in his bed. Looks like the start of another one of those days.

Nothing you can do now for another hour and a half. Too early to ring anyone else.

7.00 O'Clock. You ring your father. Nope, mum says, dad's taking me to the market.

You ring your wife's brother. No answer. Too early. Bloke next door? No, he's really had enough of this. Last time it was down 80 stairs, up and down 60 times, to load that job in 35 degree heat (lucky it was downstairs!).

It's 7.30 and you are already half an hour late to your first job. Better ring your client.

Last time you did that you got:

"Bloody hell mate. We booked this months ago. We're leaving in half an hour .... got a plane to catch ... other people are moving in at 10.00 o'clock'd better get your act together pal."

Better not ring your client.

Its not your fault. You've been up since 4.30. Bloody clients. Bloody offsiders. The last one was really good. With you for 5 years. Fell off the walk-board in the rain. Poor bugger. Crippled for life he is.

You remember this other bloke your offsider once brought along. Huge bloke. Couldn't lift a box hardly but. Still. Better than nothin. You ring him. "Yep. No worries mate .... Cash in hand mate 20 an hour."

Alright. Can't be helped. Thats like gunnu cost you $30 an hour. And he'll do nothing anyway. Then your real offsider rings. He's ready to go. Better take them both. Bastards. Bloody offsiders.

9.30 am and you get to your first job. Half the day's gone. You haven't started yet, this client's house is a 40 m walk uphill and its going to take at least 4 hours. Maybe 3 hours cos you've got two blokes with you.

You've still got 7 pickups to do after that. Your phone keeps ringing. Some of the other clients. You told them 10.00 o'clock when you spoke to them last night, now it'll be more like 1pm. More like 2pm if they keep ringing. Turn the phone off. Bloody offsiders. Bastards.

12 o'clock and your client heads off. Wants to leave you to it.

"See you at the other end" he says. He hasn't paid yet.

"Better do the paperwork before you go mate..... hang on a minute." You get your job sheet and receipt book. "$950 mate."

"I'll pay you half now and half at the other end"

"Nah mate"

"How do I know I'm going to get me stuff ?"

(JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZ ... not one of them again.)

"You been watching too much current affairs crap like all the rest of them."

"Nah mate. Been caught too many times before. Get to the other end and its like ... You were half an hour late / me wallet got stolen / half me stuff's missing / I've mailed you a cheque ra ra ra."

"Nah mate. You pay for your plane ticket before you leave and its the same with your move."

"And you pay for your food shopping before you eat it.. .... not after you taste it and see if its orright."

"Try telling the tax man you'll pay half now and half next year when you know how he's spent it."

"Nah mate, nah. Thats not how it works."

"Ok, fair enough. But you'll have to take a credit card."

"Fine mate, cards are better that cash. Give me a card for the lot. Saves carting the cash around."

Client pays and he's out of your hair. With him gone you finish just before 1 pm.

You've now got a washing machine to pickup 20 minutes away, then its off to the other side of town.

You ring the washing machine lady. No answer. You leave a text message. Be there in 20 minutes.

You head in her general direction. In 10 minutes you get to her turnoff. Stop, ring again. No answer.

Well she's probably gone out. You can't wait for her can you? You're already 3 or 4 hours behind.

Sure enough 20 minutes later she calls:

"How far away are you?"

"Its too late now, sorry. I've gone past your turnoff."

"What ???? ... I've been home all day."

"Sorry, tried to ring and there was no answer. I left a message too. You never called me back."

"Well, when can you get here then ?"

"Not this week now, I've run out of time sorry. " ( What's she gonna say next you wonder?)

She says whatever she is going to say, which is usually any one of 5 standard things and you give your standard replies and then you're at the next one.

This one's from a high rise.

Not much here. Bed, fridge, washing machine TV stereo and 4 cartons. Supposedly.

2 trips in the lift. Half an hour. Supposedly there's a loading dock at the back.

Takes you 5 minutes to find the right laneway. You back down, narrowly missing 3 cars. The loading dock is under the building. 3.1 metre clearance. Your truck's 3.7. Can't get in. You ring your client.

"How do we get into this place ? I can't get into the loading dock. Can I go throught the front foyer."

The client tells you you can't. Its against body corp rules. From the street to the loading dock under the building is a 100 meter walk up a ramp. With cars driving up and down it all the time.

But its Saturday, you're smart, you've got two offsiders with you and you've got an idea. You grab the trolleys, your two blokes and go upstairs. You take the fridge, bed and TV, put them in the lift and the three of you go down. To the foyer. Stop there, and take the stuff out to the street. You leave one bloke there and go back for a second load.

"Joe's stacking the truck", you tell her. You pickup the washer, and 4 cartons. "Is that it ?"

"No I've got just a few more cartons in here."
she says pointing to 20 fruit boxes and 4 garbage bags.

"Better tape up the lids of those cartons or it will all fall out".

"Don't you do that?"

"Nah mate nah. Not unless you want a prepack done. Then I send me packing crew. $200 minimum. I can get them to do it and come back next week."

You take your next load down the lift onto the footpath and come back for all her boxes.

Whilst your offsider loads the lift you ask for your $400.

"But you quoted me $300."

"Yep but that's without the extra boxes"

"Hang on I've got a written quote. Look I'll show you."

"Listen I know you've got a written quote, I wrote it meself. Its for 4 boxes".

"I told you I might have more."

"Yep. The price I gave you was $300 with 4 boxes. Now its another $100 for the additional 20 boxes, 4 garbage bags and that parrot on a stick over there."

"This is completely unethical." (JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZ not that recording again you think as she goes on to the usual next verse .....) "You should have told me that before you loaded it."

"Listen Lady, when you go to the milkbar and you buy 2 cartons of milk for $4.00, you don't/can't and wouldn't even think of taking 1 more and then telling the storekeeper he quoted you $4.00 for your milk.

"That's called theft. Lady. And its too late to then say "You should have told me that before I stole them". Your crime's been done already. Lady."

"Just like now. When you told me to take those boxes, you were comittn yourself to payn the transport costs. End of story really."

"I can't understand where you and your do good mates on A Current Affair / Consumer affairs and every other do good left wing group out there ever developed this concept that because we are removalists we are allowed to be stolen from."

"You are the one that pointed to those cartons and said "They are going too". You told me to take them. I'm now telling you the price. Common Law principles entitle me to fair reward for services supplied."

(jeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZ ... She's wondering how I'm so smart. I should just leave her stuff on the footpath ... and go to me next job......Me mate once did that. Put all the stuff in the lift, including the piano... took it all down one level then headed orff. Served her right too. ....... What's the matter with everyone today???)

"Give me the $300 now and you can give me the other $100 at the other end before we unload."

"C ya later."

You come out on the foyer and start wheeling your last load through whilst some building supervisor starts getting up on his high horse.

"Listen bloke ..after 100 years of building high rise buildings you'd think those architect morons would know how high a bloody truck is ...... Wanna ban me? ... yep fine. Here's me card. Make sure no one from here rings me again. Or me mates. None of them will come near this joint now anyhow, and I can bloody well see why. Another few years and the only way they'll get moved is if they do it themselves in a trailer...I can see it coming a mile away."

You get your truck from the back, double park out the front and start loading.

A cop pulls up but he sees you're nearly done, gives you a wave and keeps going.

It 3.00pm and you've done two pickups, and missed one. 5 to go.

You go to the next one. Second floor, walk up, no lift. Lot of stuff here too.

These people are alright but.

Bloke says "Started to think you weren't coming." But he starts helping you bring down the stuff. His girlfriend's still packing.

(Weren't ready anyway... lucky we're late.)

Two hours later and you're out of there. Better get some lunch. Maccas. You ring the other four clients and tell them you're running late. Two are Ok for Sunday. One's not answering. Last one wants it today.

Might as well get it done, at least its from a house (no stairs).

Its 6pm and you head off to the last one. Lucky its daylight savings. 6.45pm by the time you get there. 7.00pm by the time you have the doors open and the walkboard setup.

You and your men have had it really. It takes till after 9.00 to finish what is really only 45 minutes work. You start taking shortcuts, not padding things properly ... Can't see anyway. Too dark. I told him it'd be better to do it in the morning but he wouldn't listen...oh well, you get that.

You get home at 10.00 pm. Neither of your offsiders can work on Sunday.


You get off to an early start. You want to spend some time with your kids before you head off tonight.

Still, without an offsider, the last three take till 11.00 and its 12 by the time you get home.

You still have to change the oil on your truck and mow the lawn. You spend your time with the kids doing that, have tea, fuel up and head off.

11 hours of pot holes, level crossings, speed humps throwing you round from side to side no matter how carefull you drive. You still don't really know how any of it manages to survive these trips..and this is the good road.


1.00 O'clock in the morning you pull up by the side of the road and have a 5 hour break, and then off again. You get to you first unload at 10.00 am. Your offsider's come up for a ride so that saves a bit of time.

Then the battle's on again. People not home, people without money, people not there yet, rain and rain and more rain.

The second delivery is telling you you've stolen their bed.

"That was the blue one in the garage that your boyfriend said was his."

"Oh, well its mine ... what sort of a discount do I get?"

"No discount, you've booked the space; its not my fault you haven't used it. Its like an airline seat. Once you've booked it you don't get a refund if you don't turn up."

"Well it was on the list."

"Yep, well your boyfriend said it wasn't going."

"Well I'm paying for this not him."

"Yep, get him to refund it to you then. C ya"

That night you pull into the truck stop early. Its 6.00pm. You have a feed and fall into your bunk.

And so it goes on.

Another "I'll pay you when you get there"..."No you won't"

Another "I was home all day, you did not ring."

Another one with much more stuff. They all think they can get away with it too. Till you tell them.

Gets a bit monotonous after a while. Lucky you've got a sense of humor. Dunno why you do it but. When this truck gives out, that's it. Not doing it any more. Buy a tray truck and do containers.

Mate's doing that. Says he should have done it years ago. Doesn't know why anyone would ever want to do this stuff. Be alright if there weren't any customers he says. Now he does no work no hassles and just drives around all day and gets paid for sitting in queues. Loves it!!

Should do the same meself. Dunno who's going to be doing this in few years time. Haven't seen anyone new come into it since as long as you can remember.

You pickup and head north, deliver in the next city, unload and reload. By the time you get back its Tuesday of the next week. You've been gone for only 9 days. Usually its more like 12. You still have to unload. Then service the truck again.

You do your paperwork, your BAS, your invoicing and your quoting and then its off again. There's another complaint letter to deal with. That lady with the washing machine for goodness sakes...wants you to do it free...

And we will leave this story there.....