Sunday, September 21, 2008

Calling Dr. Couch

The Couch Doctor - When I decided to attend law school in NYC my college roommate and I signed a lease on a fifth floor walk-up near Columbia. We bought used furniture over the summer, then moved down from Boston in a rental truck. After a generally uneventful drive, interrupted only briefly by a discussion at knife point on 125th street in Harlem, we reached our destination. Moving into a fifth floor walk-up was no picnic, but the only serious problem was a green hide-a-bed sofa. This thing must have had a cast iron frame. It weighed at least 300 pounds and it was big enough so that every turn of the four flights of stairs was a challenge. When we finally got it up to our apartment, we discovered that it would not fit through the door. The "does not fit" call was not made lightly. Two very healthy MIT grads studied every angle, applied every ounce of force - and got nowhere.

Our solution? We had none. After a brief spasm of anger and a rest we lugged the couch down the stairs (again no picnic) and dumped it, like a homeless person seeking shelter, under an overpass we noticed on the way to the truck rental office.

Tonight I visited friends who had just moved from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side, to start grad school at Columbia, naturally. They had used professional movers who - after some consideration and measurement - had explained that there was no way one particularly large couch was ever going to fit into the new apartment. The solution? The short term solution was to leave the couch in the hall with a highly conciliatory note directed to landlord and new neighbors one and all.

The long term solution? Call the couch surgeon. The couch that won't fit through the door seems to be a recurring issue, and the movers made this intriguing recommendation as if it were completely routine. Of course the movers were looking for a way, any way, to escape an ugly situation involving a very disappointed customer and a very large couch abandoned in a narrow hallway. Mover's desperation notwithstanding, the couch surgeon is apparently a real phenomena, a specialist who will cut the iron and/or wood frame of the couch. Chainsaw is optional - but don't cut the upholstery or springs, they will bend around the corner once you cut the stiff parts of the frame. With its frame rendered limp at the crucial midpoint, the oversize couch can handle a bend. Once the move is complete, the frame is bolted back together.

For those with a nice couch (unlike our old green monster) the couch surgeon is well worth the investment, but never forget the basics - always avoid unnecessary surgery. You never know what might happen with good lubrication and some intensive, professionally directed pushing. So before you call the couch surgeon, try the couch obstetrician

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