Memoir: The grand move, September 2011

After two years of living in an apartment in Waterloo, my roommate and I decided to move to a new place. We found a third roommate and a spacious three-bedroom semi-detached house in a pleasant neighbourhood. It was a good deal as our individual rents would decrease and yet we’d get a larger common area and a small backyard. So we signed the contract for 1 September 2011.

On that date, my roommates, who were also Iranian graduate students, would be visiting home for the end of term vacations. So I agreed to perform the move. They packed their stuff, including their beds, and left.

A friend of mine was also planning to move on the same date. We had both received our driving licences a year before. So we booked two U-Haul trucks for 24 hours, as there was a flat rate for the first 24 hours.

Starting mid-August, we started receiving calls from friends who were also planning to move on the same date and told us all the U-Hauls in the town are booked out and asked if we can help with their relocations. And we said yes, yes, and yes, thinking that having more people means more help for our own moves and a lower cost, too, as we were to share the U-Hauls’ costs.

A peculiarity exists among Iranians: when someone asks you a favour, it’s not socially acceptable to say no, even if you can’t or don’t really want to do the favour. And if you want to say no, you need to hide it behind an excuse. Saying straight no is awkward.

Anyway, we said yes to 6 friends, and I planned a sophisticated moving schedule that involved the stuff of 12 people and comprised 8 loadings and 7 unloadings and emailed it to everyone. I also asked several friends to help us with this grand relocation and 5 of them agreed to come.

Here’s another fact about me: friendship is a significant part of my life. I like to build strong relationships with others and maintain them so long as possible. This is a common trait among Iranians and other middle easterners, which is especially true for student immigrants as we don’t have our family around, hence our friends become our family.

So, we rented the U-Hauls in the afternoon of 31 August, performed some of the moves within a few hours, did the remaining loadings, and parked the U-Hauls in my old building’s lot. The plan was to finish at 10 pm. We finished at 2 am and went to a Pita Factory store for dinner as that was the only place open.

I do not remember where I slept that night. I had returned the keys of the old apartment and hadn’t yet received those of the new house. I woke up early on 1 September and did the unloadings with new energy. We had some fresh helpers on the second day so it was quick. We took this picture with the U-Haul after the work was done (I am the rightmost person).

Now that I remember those two days, I find it surprising that I agreed to do that move. For I am a conservative person and many things could have gone wrong with that grand move. We were lucky that everything went somewhat smoothly.

In those good old days, we were young, energetic, and adventurous.

A freelance journalist and a Google DeepMind AI researcher, an Iranian-Canadian living in Montreal with a journalism degree from Concordia University.