Know Your Movers: John

  John McKelvie is one of the most communicative guys at Bookstore Movers. He needs to be, since our Operation team’s attention tends to be in high demand. I pester John with questions multiple times a week, and with annoying (yet endearing?) ramblings even more often than that. I work with John more than any of the other operations guys, but if you call him John it will take me a while to realize who on earth you’re talking about. Since we have seen a plethora of Johns come and go since the creation of Bookstore Movers, it was important that most have a nickname to set them apart from each other and avoid wacky sitcom hijinks as much as possible. Our John McKelvie became Vermont John–VJ for short. This is what I’ve always known him by, so when I see emails addressing a phone call with John I get to sit there and think “Wrong number?” for a minute or two.   VJ, though, is a miracle worker. Any mistake I’ve made–and unfortunately, there are plenty– chances are VJ has had to fix, and has done so spectacularly. He’s never mean or condescending about it either, at least not to my face if he is (I appreciate it!). VJ knows just about all there is to know about moves, and still helps out on a move when needed. Some admin affectionately refer to him as a peaceful flying leopard as well–not all nicknames stick like VJ does, but who wouldn’t want to be a chill leopard cruising through the air? That’s VJ though. He’s chill. He knows what he’s doing. And what he’s doing is freaking magic.   Here’s another interview with one of my unproblematic faves– who still has time to become an astronaut if he wants. Just saying!   What is your favorite book? Well, for childhood books it’s gotta be the Redwall series. I spent more hours reading about those endearing mice and bloodlusty badgers than I can count. But it’s tough to decide on a favorite since then. There’s a super depressing war novel called Once an Eagle that always rises to the top of my list. I also really dug the Rothfuss Kingkiller series, but that’s incomplete!   Can you remember the toughest item you’ve ever moved? Hmmm, I’ll try not to cop out with piano or weight set. The anechoic chamber was pretty tough! We delivered that from a weird lab in Greenbelt to Catholic University. Another time I was moving with Beau (must’ve been way back in 2012) and we carried this monstrous couch up 5 narrow, tiny flights… but once we reached the top floor it wouldn’t through the customer’s front door. Ooh, another item that just seemed really strange at the time was when we did that massive shuffle within the Japanese embassy and we had to move a 4ft x 3ft scale model of the embassy itself. That was pretty cool, and actually one of the easier items to move on that job. The 200lb slippery file cabinets nearly resulted in several amputations–though the slippery part could be blamed on sweaty movers probably.   What is your favorite piece of furniture you own? I don’t have strong feelings about most of our furniture (moving has given me a jaded view of antiques/heirlooms), so I’d have to lean towards my cozy mattress.   What’s your favorite way to rejuvenate after a long day?   I think the mattress might be a fitting response to that question as well… but I’m also in the bad habit of drinking delicious iced coffee (or even better, an iced red-eye–whoo!!) later in the day to get that second wind for finishing up work, or making dinner, or leaving my house.   And what is your dream vacation? A southern hemisphere rugby tour! Exploring NZ, Aus, South Africa, and Argentina while watching the finest teams in the sport slam into each other. You know, just a casual month or two of vacation. (Note: This interview was conducted after he already went on honeymoon to Portugal, and I for one was lost without him. Never leave us. Deny his vacation time, Matt.)   Do you remember your first day at BSM? Do you have any stories? Oh man, aside from almost passing out from exhaustion in the client’s bathroom? I tried to push a handtruck loaded with book boxes up the ramp (pushing the handtruck in front of me rather than pulling it behind, a big no-no) and it rolled backward and spilled everywhere… all while my new (super mean) boss Matt was standing on the end of the truck watching. My arms started going numb after carrying book and comic book boxes down two flights. I was not in the best shape.   Sounds not that fun… Definitely wasn’t! Fortunately, I didn’t collapse and I was quickly beaten into better shape.   What is the best thing to eat during an ops day?  What is the best thing to eat during a moving day? Oh man, most of Ops has been on a Spice 6 kick for the last couple months–guaranteed to force a mid-afternoon nap.   That was definitely Aaron’s choice too! As for during a moving day… there are so many bad options to choose from, so few good ones I think Chipotle probably gets the most BSM business out of any food chain (though sadly, 7-Eleven is probably up there too)   What is your number one tip for people about to move? When in doubt, put it in a box.   So there we have it: the Gospel of VJ. Put it in a box. I did ask just a few times for him to write us a haiku, but once again the request was ignored. So once again, one will be assigned to him.  

If you call him John

(I’m gonna be honest here)

I’ll ask you “Who dat?”

  That’s all for this weeks interview!  Tune in next time to see if I ever, ever get someone else to write a haiku.   Edit: Upon reading this blog, John has submitted a haiku: 

A pre-dawn Ops shift

Hot coffee overfloweth

Where are my work friends?

Thanks, John! But if it’s before 7 am in Minnesota, you are on your own buddy!

Know Your Movers: Aaron

Hello everyone!  I’m very excited today to bring you this new series: Know Your Movers! I have had so much fun interviewing some fantastic people that I know and appreciate greatly, and I couldn’t be more pleased to introduce you to some of my amazing coworkers.  
Matt and Aaron at a BSM Wedding!
  Today we’ll be profiling one of the most infamous guys on our team. I remember when I first started working here and didn’t know much, I found a single note explaining that a building was having a pest problem, just to let us know.  On these notes, there are often solutions to things like difficult parking or narrow stairs.  The solution on this note?  “Bring cats.”  I can’t remember if I was more amused than I was confused, but I was definitely both those things.  I asked a coworker about the note and the only thing she had to say was: “Beckwith.” And so, I’d like to introduce you today (with help from Founder Matt and Admin Mary) to Aaron Beckwith–our operations, moving, and bookstore triple threat.   Erica: What is the most difficult item you’ve ever moved? Aaron: Oooh,  hmm. That’s tough… Apparently I’ve blocked a lot out, ‘cause I’m not coming up with a lot off the top of my head. That gun safe recently was pretty bad. The client said 600 pounds but I don’t think anyone really knows the different between 400 and 600 pounds… or at least I don’t.  I just know when i shouldn’t be trying something. Hardest stuff for me has always been situations where we have to deal with the elements like extreme heat, iced over fire escapes, monsoon conditions. Mary (a horrified coworker): Do you really move on icy fire escapes? Aaron: Was a long time ago… before or as one of the blizzards was hitting us.  2011 or  something. (Please note that Bookstore Movers does not move on fire escapes or over ice, so hopefully Aaron has learned better since then.) Matt: I’ve done a lot more hard moves than Aaron –Aaron really is a child of our “easy living era” Aaron: Matt did have way more crazy moves than me.  Most of my moving came after we decided to use these crazy things called ‘Handtrucks’ and ‘Dollies.’ Erica: Back in Matt’s day, they moved with their bare hands in the snow uphill both ways? Aaron: They totally did. Matt: Oh great–Aaron concedes to me but while doing so throws an underhanded insult. It was not that long a time that I went without handtrucks! But yes, it was far longer than it should have been. I never said I was a “work smart, not hard” kind of guy–in fact I am exactly the opposite. But all of that said, Aaron did in fact help on a some of the really really early, really really crazy moves–like doing a 4 bedroom house with a 16′ truck and 2 guys. (Please note: Matt really is a work smart guy.  He’s just also often ridiculous.)   Erica: What is your absolute favorite book? No cop-outs!  One title! Aaron: I’m a total  cop-out for favorite book. I will try and get a non cop-out-ey answer though… which Matt will  surely scoff at.   Erica: We can come back to the hard ones.  But what is your favorite piece of furniture you own? Aaron: Oh, the couch in my apartment is definitely #1. But I love the Poang chair too. Matt: Yup, Aaron the Great has a great old couch. Erica: Couch confirmed. Aaron: I feel like Matt is setting me up for something here.   Erica: Or maybe you have a nice couch? Regardless, Jackie has some great questions for you Aaron; what’s your favorite way to rejuvenate after a long day? Aaron: Nap and TMZ Matt: Aaron and his darn TMZ. I can confirm that is true.   Mary: What is your dream vacation, Aaron? Aaron: Dream vacation is tough, but right now El Yunque sounds pretty great. Drinking coffee, reading, listening to frogs, speaking terrible spanish. [Several minutes of me excitedly talking about Puerto Rico, where my parents are from, omitted for length and also so I don’t look like even more of a nerd.]   Mary: Can you remember your first day at Bookstore Movers? Aaron: Hmm, first day. I can’t remember my first move with Matt in the early days, but maybe Matt knows more about that.   Matt: Oh god–I could write a 30-page essay about it. So so so long ago, before we had any trucks even. Just a labor and wits company. Aaron: First real day when I was full-time was just Matt and me in mid July. We had a client with lots and lots of heavy book boxes in an outdoor walk-up, and I very nearly died on several occasions. I was sore for several days afterward. It may have been over 100 degrees, but I could be exaggerating. Matt: You always gave all, old man.   Erica: What’s the best thing to eat for lunch a) during a move day, b) during an ops day, and c) doing a bookstore day? Aaron: Food during Moving Day–taquitos of course. Bookstore Day–Sushi and Sapporo from Sizzling Express.  Ops Day–Spice 6 almost every time for me. Salad bowl (rice or naan will wreck you) with all of the veggies and tofu and spicy spices and sauces that are possible. It’s a Chipotle-like Indian place not too far from us.   Erica: What is the #1 tip for people about to move? Aaron: I feel like I have 1000 answers for that. Vacuuming can be fun. All the worst moves involve less than optimal cleanliness.  #1 regret?  Books are already packed so I can’t judge them.   Erica: And finally, your favorite book? Aaron: Errrrrrghum… I guess I’ll go with Foam of the Daze by Boris Vian.   So there you have it! Definitely check if your local bookstore carries Foam of the Daze–and if that local store is Capitol Hill Bookstore, you may run into a familiar face or two.  Since Aaron declined to write a haiku (after much unexplained and sudden badgering about haiku writing while he was working) one has been assigned for him:   Books, boxes, and phones– he’s mastered them all by now, a Jack of all trades.   Until next time!