The two burly men we had hired to move all of our books and furniture and things down three flights of stairs, across the railway line and into an old terrace weren’t so burly as I expected. Small, wiry, compact – Chinese. I had pictured ‘two men and a truck’ to be huge, sweaty, ginger, anglo – not Chinese. But they were efficient and methodical and managed to get all our belongings, excepting the toilet and pot plants, into the truck. My brother packs a more elegant truck – but even he couldn’t have tetrised together our bookshelves, buffet, the ampersand and barbeque quite so tightly.
I walked around to the new place to open it up and try to secure a convenient car park so those two compact men wouldn’t have to drag our dingy furniture from two streets away. I was in luck. There were two spaces – enough for a truck – right outside our new old terrace. I stood in the middle of them , very pleased with myself, when a small Honda zipped into the front space and started reversing, as though to run me over. I stared in disbelief. I didn’t move. The car moved forward again and stopped. A bourgeois family spilled out of its sides. Mum opened the boot and pulled out coats and bags and the whole family climbed the stairs of the terrace next door, without even glancing at me.
My god. These were my neighbours.
Just up the road, T. was approaching with S., laden with last minute bits and pieces.
‘That woman,’ I said, loud enough for that woman to hear. ‘Just tried to run me over!’
T. handed me an esky.
‘But she totally dropped her phone on the road and I’m soooo not going to tell her.’
But the carspace issue remained. Where the hell was our two-men-and-a-truck going to park? We dumped our things in the terrace. We stepped out and surveyed the road. It was moderately busy, and none of those cars were going anywhere, the bastards.
My neighbour’s phone was still lying in the road. I was amazed it hadn’t been taken yet. Maybe people don’t steal phones like they used to. I picked it up. I knocked on my neighbours’ door. A man, dad, answered.
‘You dropped your phone,’ I said, thrusting it in his face.
‘Oh,’ he said. ‘That’s Oscar’s phone.’
Yes, I thought. You would have a child named Oscar.
‘Can you move your car. I want the space for my truck.’
‘Oh, you’re moving in,’ he said. ‘Yeah. Okay.’
Mr ‘there’s some random chick standing in the street; she must be a junkie so I’ll try to run her over rather than ask her why she’s there’ Bourgeois-neighbour got out and moved his car into another space a bit further down the road.
Triumphing in my moment, I stood smiling in the two spaces I had secured for our truck. This moving caper wasn’t so bad. You get two strong Chinese guys, smack down a bourgeois family, and bam! – you’re halfway there.
And then a red Holden attempted to drive into my space.
I waved my arms.
I shook my head.
I stamped my feet.
No fucking way, buddy. That space is mine.
T. ran over and stood in the space too.
‘What are you doing?’ she said to the driver. Neither of us budged. The driver was furious.
‘Get out of the way,’ he said, and kept trying to inch forward. Why do drivers think it’s okay to threaten pedestrians with two tonnes of steel??
T. held her ground and scowled.
‘We need this space for our truck,’ I said. ‘It’ll be here any minute.’
‘I just need to pick up a friend round the corner,’ he said, still inching his car towards T. ‘I’ll just be five minutes.’
‘Our truck will be here any minute,’ I repeated.
‘Good god,’ he said, exasperated. ‘I’m from Canberra!’
‘Yeah? Well, I’m from Redfern,’ I said. ‘Get the fuck out of my space.’
Furious, he drove off, just as our two-men-and-a-truck came round the corner.