The walls talk. A couch talks. So does the china and the dried flowers--in the voice of a pampered mistress.
Arthur Morrissette, possibly the trendiest mover in the world, is leading a tour of his two-bedroom training home in Springfield, Va.
The moving men and the all-woman crew of packers go to school in the furnished home. The voices of walls and furnishings start talking with the flip of a switch.
"Hey, watch it," says a hallway wall in a Little League umpire voice.. "Don't scratch me. We suffer a lot. But what we go through in a move--scratches, bumps, gouges."
"I'm fragile, don't want to be chipped and must be handled with care," says the talking turkey platter.
The sofa tells the movers in a phy/ed instructor's voice:
"All right, group. Let's shape up. Don't stagger." Morrissette adds this bit of advice: "Never pick up a sofa by its arms." One might come off, as happened to him when he began in the business 40 years ago. Pick up everything possible by the bottom.
As for dried flowers and the like, listen to this sultry advice:
"When I heard that we were to be moved, I thought this absolutely will be the end of me....Some things never were meant to be moved from place to place."
Advice: Take it in your car. Or in a limousine (one of Morrissette's services).
A trend-setter in the moving business, Morrissette says so far as he knows, he's the first in the world with a training home and free packing classes for the public. He also appears to be the first to pay--as a fund-raiser--members of charity or civic groups $3 each for visiting his 30-acre facility.
Why does Morrissette employ women packers exclusively?
"Don't get me into that--that women are superior," says Morrissette, who ran as a Republican in 1971 for the 36th District Virginia State Senate seat. "You'll get me into a discriminatory position. But women are more considerate of household goods like china, lamps and silver. There's another reason: Some women (customers) feel intimidated by an all-male moving team."
From his years in the moving business, Morrissette offers these tips:
* Keep towels handy. All his movers and packers carry hand towels on them--pulled through their belts or tucked in rear pockets, for wiping hands between moving objects.
* Don't wear a belt with a buckle on moving day. If, for instance, you're carrying out a coffee table with table top next to stomach, chances are you'll scratch it.
* Save your newspapers. You'll need them for packing items like china or stuffing corners of boxes.
* Buy a supply of white tissue paper--for packing around such things as lamp shades, where you don't want newsprint rubbing off.
* Use bedsheets for covering sofas, dining-room chairs, mattresses. It's a lot easier to wash a lot of sheets than to clean furniture.
* Have a tool box and ropes available on moving day.
* Pack a picnic hamper the night before. Saves trips for food on moving day.
* Pack that TV set last if possible. It could keep youngsters amused.
At first, Morrissette moved furniture and just about everything else with one helper. Now his firm employs 250 people, has a fleet of 100 vans and handles moves worldwide. He estimates his vans are worth $8 million and his business a $25-million enterprise annually.
Cost of his "top-hat" moving services? "We have to be competitive," says Morrissette.
Moving has come a long way, Morrissette reminisces, from the days when people would throw everything left over onto a bedspread and tie the four corners together for one big bundle to pick up and go.
Today, his movers get a minimum of 80 hours instruction. And if you want Rolls-Royce, champagne limousine service to the airport, Morrissette will provide it.
For reservations for free packing classes this Saturday at 10 a.m., and for daily charity-benefit tours (minimum about 20 persons): 569-2121.