Group Portraits

The Moving Men

When the Glass Department was moved from the basement to the main floor, we had to haul one particularly heavy sheet of glass. It was perhaps ten feet long and three feet wide, and would eventually be broken into small pieces for mosaic glass assembly. I rounded up four of the strongest clients, then watched with some trepidation as they carried the sheet up the long U-shaped ramp, down several halls, and into the new assembly area. I walked ahead of them, clearing a path.

Roger was carrying the front end, and when he wasn’t busy directing—“Listen, you guys, this turn is really a bugger, so cut ’er sharp”—he was grunting and saying, “Boy, this sucker is a real backbreaker.” Leon, right behind him, was supporting some of the weight, but his mind was elsewhere. As he walked past a window, he began analyzing the weather: “Look, it’s cloudy out now—it’s cloudy, isn’t it? There’s a sixty percent chance of rain today—yeah, sixty percent! That’s a lot, isn’t it? Yeah, but only ten percent tonight and tomorrow. It’s supposed to get up to sixty-four degrees tomorrow. Sixty-four degrees, that’ll be nice, won’t it?” Neal, in the number three position, was holding the glass tight, but was also smiling and nodding the whole way, saying “Yeah, sure is” and “Yeah, you bet” in response to Leon’s weather report and Roger’s directions. All the while, Ken, bringing up the rear, was saying nothing but was hard at it, probably bearing a third of the weight of the sheet, quietly doing his share of the work and more.

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