‘I’m Jack Tandy, and do I have a joke for you’

Photo: Julian Kingma

Photo: Julian Kingma

I’ve been working as a removalist at Man With A Van coming up to six years now. I started working here as I was finishing off my uni degree and just loved it so much that I stayed.

Everyone here has, how shall we say, a secret life, or an alter ego. They’re either musicians, or performers, comedians, actors, playwrights, so there’s never a dull day. I do comedy improv on the side. I don’t really sort of mine the job for material or anything like that. But in this job, and one of the great things about it, is that everyone needs to move house every now and then, so you do get to see a broad cross-section of society.

It’s also a very physically demanding job, which I really enjoy. As long as you’ve got a good lifting partner, you can get through everything. You always get the old “you obviously you wouldn’t need a gym membership”. But we do have an in-house gym regime we do to keep us fit, absolutely.

We do weights, it’s sort of like a full circuit workout really, we’ve got the medicine balls and the yoga and all the stretching and the push-ups, pull-ups, and the planking.

The heaviest thing I’ve ever lifted was a TV unit that was about five metres in length that was made of MDF. It took four of us to lift … it was probably in excess of 300 kilograms.

Once you work here for a while, you become a minimalist pretty quickly. I hate moving. I try and put it off as much as I can.

When you’re going out on the road for the first time, you’re paired up with one of the senior staff members. It’s a fairly basic job, but there are a lot of little things that you just really need to hone your eye in. Reversing a truck down a tight alley – that takes a long time to really get down.

They say that moving is one of the most stressful things you can do in life. People move for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it’s happy, they’ve bought their first place or they’ve moved up. Sometimes they’re downsizing or there’s a relationship break-up or a death. You try and match the occasion, where sometimes you’re a bit more sensitive. You don’t want to put your foot in it too much.

We also know that people aren’t always themselves on moving day. You get them at their best and you get them at their worst.

One of the most interesting parts is just getting to know the customer’s story. It’s kind of a bit like talkback radio, where you can just have a chat and get their views on various subjects.

I love the challenge of moving furniture. I’m also a big nerd for puzzles. A lot of people make the very standard joke that you must really be into Tetris. But yeah, I really am.

As told to Larissa Ham

Photo: Julian Kingma

Photo: Julian Kingma

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