Most college kids work a job doing retail or at restaurants, but I'm a little different. I make a living by working for a premium moving company, by being specialized manual labor. Here are some things I've learned along the way:
(1.) Yes, "Premium" moving is a thing, and it's more popular than you might think.
When you think of "moving", you either imagine a couple with a U-Haul throwing stuff in, or a bunch of high school dropouts and ex-cons taking a smoking while loading up a truck. So to imagine anything different is strange to people, especially if it costs twice to thrice as more as the other options.
However, there are many customers out there who not only don't want to move their stuff themselves (due to the time or labor involved) but they also don't want their nice stuff broken or to have a bunch of scary looking fellows in their home. That's where we come in. I won't name my company but it's a big, North-Eastern based premium moving company. We do charge more than other companies, but in return we have the skills and service to make your move painless. We know how to properly pack all your things if you want us to, and we protect furniture with our various materials. Not only that, but we provide excellent service. Most of our workers are college educated, we love to treat you with kindness & smiles, and we legitimately care about doing the job right (working as fast as possible, not damaging your stuff or walls, not being lazy with breaks or using hand trucks, etc.)
Now, while we provide free estimates for our jobs (an unheard of service in the industry) if you choose us chances are high you'll pay nearly double what the other guys charge. I haven't done many sub-4 digit cost moves. Many of our customers are obviously more affluent, and they enjoy the premium service. They like the peace of mind that they will be taken care of by a bunch of trained and experienced workers, and that even if something were to go wrong, we'll take care of it for them. So far this summer in my city, we've managed to completely book out jobs weeks in advance, so we're popular enough to stay busy despite the costs. And in our HQ city, we practically own the place.
(2.) It's obviously physically demanding, but not in the ways you think.
This may not be true for all moving companies, as some like to take their sweet time, but here we bust our butts day in and day out. Most people imagine movers as a bunch of meat heads who just pick things up and put them down. Truth is, a lot of guys in our company are athletes (and must be smoke free), but most are far from being gym bros with huge muscles. While strength is a great quality here, endurance is king. We are constantly running back and forth from the truck to the house with heavy pieces of furniture in hot weather. You have to have the endurance to keep going for sometimes 10-12 hours.
Also, being gym strong and ripped isn't even that helpful either. Sure you'll have an easier time lifting heavy pieces, but this isn't a gym with an easy to grip barbell that you pick up and set down. This is a hard to grip 350lb armoire that's huge and has to go up/down stairs without breaking it or hitting stuff. Some of the worst guys here were actually the gym rats, because they didn't have the grip strength, endurance, or balance to keep that heavy piece going up 3 flights of stairs.
I may be overweight and not the strongest guy around, but I have amazing grip strength (I use 150lb hand grips to warm up some days) and I've carried 300lb+ treadmills and triple row dressers up a few flights of stairs while on the bottom before. Not to mention carrying a piano upstairs too. I have a lot of "natural" core strength and it's what most guys (and girls!) have at this job. Endurance and learning to cope with heat are most important.
(3.) Gay customers are the best, and hoarders are the worst.
Maybe it's because our company maintains an LGBT positive atmosphere or maybe gay people really are just that nice. Either way, my best customers have always been gay men and women. They have always been very cheerful, easy-going, and tipped well. One couple not only gave us a decent tip, but Christmas COOKIES too after the move! If anything the only downside to gay couples is they usually have nice, expensive furniture so we have to be a little more careful with it.
BUT COOKIES GUYS!
Speaking of tips, it's a huge perk of this job. Sometimes you don't get any but you can expect about $20 per job you do, which is nice untaxed income. However, it's not a rarity I get tipped $100 for a job, which is always pleasurable. Customers will also pay for your lunch and get you Gatorades too! Point is, they love the service so much (especially if they have used other companies in the past), they feel like showing some love.
Now, as I've said before we mostly move affluent customers. I've been in many 10,000 square foot multi-million mansions were a coffee table might cost more than your whole college education. It might be surprising to some, but rich people are usually the most generous. Occasionally you get the CEO or two that doesn't tip and treats you like slave labor, but often I get a lot of rich customers who are super happy we are taking care of their stuff for them and making it easy. $500/hr for us to come move out your mansion isn't that much when you're made of millions, and to be surrounded by a bunch of skilled, determined fellows makes things smooth.
Lastly, and this is to be expected, hoarders are the absolute worst. Many of them hire us because they're super attached to their things and want them taken care of. We don't like working for them though because their houses tend to be absolutely disgusting, with pee stained carpets, dust, and brown recluses crawling out of attic boxes. They also tend to be so specific with how things should be done they get in our way. You really get to see the worst of some people when you have to move their whole lives and see every part of it. And even if you get someone who isn't a hoarder, you might get someone who lives in filth. You'd think two adult women would keep a small apartment clean, right? Well as I've found out, some women have lots of trash that were swept underneath their belongings.
(4.) Some customers have ZERO shame, especially the women.
When a customer decides to set up a Pack & Prep job (where we come in and pack all your things), you get to learn a LOT about a customer personally. Sometimes too personally. My favorite is always the sex and personal care items. Now, before I go into the nightstands or bathroom drawers to pack, I ask the customer if they could just look through real quick to make sure there weren't any personal items in them. They'll oblige and skim through and tell me it's good. Suddenly I'm packing up tampons, Summer's Eve, condoms, lubricant, massage oil, love making books, nude photos, p**n DVD's, and lingerie. My favorite was on one job when the love making books, Bibles/Christian literature, and lube were in the same drawer. So from what I know about women now, they prefer Trojan BareSkin Condoms, Tampax Pearl, and grapeseed massage oil. Note Taken.
Speaking of women, I'm not sure if it's having a bunch of giant but gentle men in the house, or seeing the sweat and having testosterone fill the air, but women get a little too close with you sometimes. They'll start asking you about life while they lean closely over the counter watching you work and swinging their leg up and down. They'll compliment you endlessly with lots of smiles. Sometimes they get personal hugging you or brushing dust off your pelvic region (this has happened before).
They'll purposely walk slowly in front of you and exaggerate the swing of their hips. They'll drop subtle hints that they're single with "oh you can push that bed against the wall, there's nothing going on over on that side." There was once a customer that asked me to come into the bedroom to help her with something. I walk in and it turns out she's peeing...with the bathroom door wide open. Her only response is, "Sorry! Had to go!", when you know darn well she could have closed the door.
While many of these women were at least in their 25-40's and a good portion were bored housewives (as in she just stays home all the time and the husband is gone long hours, so she gets lonely), occasionally you get girls instead of women. It's not just me, but other guys who have had daughters of a customer in the 14-16 year old range get a crush on one of the movers and just tail him around everywhere. One girl was so infatuated with me that after some convos the first day, she spoke to her mom that night and the mom knew everything about me the next morning.
While I was alone unpacking this girl's wardrobe boxes into her closet the last day, she laid down on the bed and said, "I'm just soooooo tired", while staring at me. She was 15 so I just shot her back a "You need to calm down" look and continued with my job before she tried anything else that could get me in trouble. Lastly, it's happens every now and then a guy on the crew has said he has come back with the number of a customer because she liked him that much. I wish normal women my age could give me the same attention some of the others did off the job.
(5.) While some days do suck, the job is very enjoyable overall and the company treats you well.
Manual labor is not fun, and some days (or weeks) can suck the life out of you. However, my company always has the policy of making sure we are taken care of, so that we take care of our customers. So far, it has worked astounding. First off, starting pay is $12.50 an hour, and more experienced guys such as myself are at the $13-$15 range depending on if they drive or chief. The higher ups who have been with the company many years and either run a branch or do administrative work easily make $50k-$90k a year. The guys who drive the big rig semi trucks and move the stuff in those can make 6-figures. Plus there's a ton of fun incentives, like pay for completing training and attending company meetings. Every year we have a Summer party at all the different branches, full of boats and a day to relax. You'd have to do something really stupid to get fired here too.
Even though our company revenue is over $40 million, our Founder and President has kept his salary in a modest low 6-figure range, because he'd rather invest the profits back into the company to help expand and provide more for the thousands of employees. He's helped immigrants that we normally fly over to help in the summer get citizenship here in the US, so they could continue to work for the company and make a better life for themselves (since the President is an immigrant himself).
So overall, while I have bigger career aspirations in the future, I'd say I've had a very pleasurable experience working for a premium moving company. Thank you for reading!