Moving Day

It only looks safe

Looking at the massive object, gray and solid, I knew how Egyptian slaves must have felt as they gazed upon the unfinished pyramids.

It stood nearly as tall as myself, I could almost lie comfortably on the horizontal top and it was nearly the same dimension front-to-back. The monolith was approximately the same weight as a block of solid granite and was by far one of the largest non-vehicle objects I had ever personally contemplated grappling with, aside from an angry female chaperone at a Freshman mixer.

So why had I agreed to purchase this gun safe?


Let’s commence at the beginning, where all the great Greek tragedies start. In this case, things launched with the phone call leading to my post as the Grand Poohbah of GUNS Magazine. After the initial shock wore off, I found myself quoting Roy Schneider in the famous scene from Jaws while stumbling into the kitchen in a state of shell-shock, muttering to my wife, “We’re gonna need a bigger safe …” And, to be sure, I did.

Now I’ll reveal another personal dirty little secret — at the time, my existing gun safe was tiny. It was larger than a breadbox but just barely. Even though I had been an outdoor and gun writer for several decades, my firearm collection was modest, even laughable, by most standards. The blame lies primarily with my selfish wife and children who were constantly whining about having luxuries we simply couldn’t afford — food, clothing, shelter, heart medication, etc.

This was because I had discovered too late all the necessary outdoor gear — cameras, shooting accessories, hunting paraphernalia, fishing poles, boats, scuba gear, ropes and harnesses, decoys, boots, tents, sleeping bags, packs and trailers to transport all of the accumulated flotsam — wasn’t sustained by the $200 I was making for the occasional freelance article. This state of affairs seriously crimped my gun budget. I eventually realized an outdoor journalist came up with the old analogy, “The world is your oyster, but you can’t seem to pry open the damn shell.”


As gun magazine editors are blessed to handle large numbers of firearms as part of their daily jobs, my pitiful poor gun safe would obviously need replacement, a prospect I didn’t relish. Not only are safes of the required size frightfully expensive, they weigh more than a standard aircraft carrier including the helicopter wing. This certainly wouldn’t be a “cash-and-carry” transaction.

I visited every sales outlet in the area, plus online stores, where I quickly discovered the spirits of any sales professional were instantly lifted by simply mentioning the words “gun safe.” If you’ve ever seen a 4-year-old unexpectedly handed an ice cream cone, you get the general idea. As safes are now valued by the pound at the same rate as flawless diamonds, the sales commission alone was probably more than my first house.

After months of sticker shock, I finally broke down and started to purchase a safe. It was smaller than what I wanted but the only thing I could realistically afford. I was in the process of haggling the details — for instance, would they accept one kidney or two — when my phone buzzed. It was a friend offering to sell me one of his very large safes as he discovered it would be cheaper to build a midsize nuclear reactor in the backyard than pay someone to move the safe into his new home.

The deal was consummated instantly via text message, much to the chagrin of the salesclerk, who was already thinking about adding the unicorn-leather seat option to his new Masarati once my credit card cleared. I walked out laughing, secure in the knowledge I had made a good deal and both kidneys would remain mine for the foreseeable future.


The deal was done upon pictures and my hazy memories of the safe. I was so happy with the downright giveaway price, I figured whatever trouble experienced in moving the beast into my office would be offset many, many times by the savings. I would live to regret this idea.

Moving day arrived and at the appointed time, I backed a heavy-duty trailer up to my friend’s door. I had borrowed several stout lads — all bribed with scarce ammunition — so along with the former owner and I, there were plenty of people to manhandle the safe out the door, onto the trailer then into my office.

As I entered his house, I saw a massive gray object blocking the path. I began looking around for my safe and my friend said, “Nope, that’s it.” I detected a hint of humor in his voice. He would live to regret the mirth.

The safe was bigger than I remembered by a factor of 10. In fact, I’d never seen a safe this large outside of a Federal Reserve bank. With 6″-thick walls and a door heavy enough to seal Strategic Air Command headquarters, this thing was massive. We all stood there in a circle staring at the spectacle, silently feeling our back ligaments tear and nascent hernias beginning to form

The plan

After stalling as long as possible, we attacked the problem in earnest. First, we removed the door, expecting it to be unbelievably heavy and unwieldy and were surprised to find we were correct. It took all of the assembled help to move the door into the trailer, which didn’t bode well for the next operation.

A heavy-duty two-wheel dolly was slid under the side of the safe and secured with the same type of strap truckers use to anchor bulldozers. Grunting, straining, panting and swearing much like the aforementioned slaves — minus the flogging — we slowly pushed the safe up to an angle where it was balanced on the two solid rubber wheels of the dolly at a 30-degree angle. Two unfortunate victims were chosen to keep the payload from tipping either direction, a situation which would have either resulted in a safe-shaped hole in the floor or two red greasy spots under the dolly.

Slowly, surely and surly, we wrestled the safe to the door. Now came three concrete steps down into the trailer. Various possibilities were considered until we realized simple brute force was the only technique needed. What could possibly go wrong?

Surprisingly, the move only took us an hour and we even held the casualty rate below 40%, if you don’t count the small dog which disappeared during the latter stages of the move. I did later notice a hairy, platter-sized stain on the trailer floor but I’m sure there is no connection between the two events.

Easy Does It

At my house, it was smooth sailing. There were only two steps up to negotiate and a straight shot down the hall to my office. Everything went well and only two men succumbed to injuries. Before long the hulking gray beast was sitting in front of the large walk-in closet where it would soon reside. This is when a sick feeling, much like a boiling acid pool in the pit of my stomach, began to take shape.

Can you imagine what would happen if you purchased a 72-ton gun safe and wrestled it into position only to discover it was a half-inch too big to fit though the final door? For somebody to do such a thing would be the height of stupidity and carelessness.

Therefore, I’ll just mention final positioning of the safe went well — after we removed the door, piece of trim, pieces of wall and several of my fingers. The remaining group, including several passersby, contorted into impossible and perhaps even illegal positions but eventually managed to wrestle the ungainly beast into position, where it will remain until the stars burn out and the trumpet of Gabriel sounds.

And, if Gabriel wants a gun safe on that day, I hope he’s got a couple of burly archangels on the team because I’m sure my group will still be in traction.

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