Only in New York

Only in New York: When couch and doorway collide

By Molly  | March 6, 2013 - 8:55AM

Moving in New York is never simple. After spending roughly $10K to move into our new tenement in Chelsea, and buying two brand new mattresses, my roommate Josh and I didn't exactly have a ton of cash to blow on stylish new furniture. A friend gave us her old white couch, which I paid movers to deliver.

It was great, but Josh and I are not exactly "white couch" people. We spend evenings drinking red wine and within weeks we had wine stains all over it. We also put our feet on the couch and invite random dogs into our house.

Let's be honest, even with the best intentions, the white couch's days were numbered. But by luck, one of my clients was getting rid of a nearly new, green velvet couch she was willing to sell me for $350.

Again I had to pay movers to pick up and deliver the couch to my third-floor walk-up apartment. When they were a half hour late, I was irritated, so I called. They assured me they were on their way, but when another hour passed, I called back and they told me they had no idea when they would arrive.

I tried to stay calm, but I was angry. When I started asking questions, the man on the other end of the line got snarky and told me to SHUT UP! I hung up, immediately flagged all of his ads on Craigslist--and totally frustrated--had to leave and go downtown for a work meeting.

I calmed myself down and hired another mover who agreed to meet me at 4 p.m. after my meeting. I thought I could have the couch in the apartment before Josh got home and my next appointment at 6 p.m.

At 4 p.m. on the dot, the replacement movers gently grappled with my couch and started making their way up the flights of stairs to my apartment.

Upon reaching the third floor, and turning left into the hallway, the couch would go no farther. I had made the mistake of purchasing it before I measured my hallway and doorway. Now when I say my hallway is skinny, I mean anorexic. If my hallway was a person, it would be that French model who died last year.

The couch was literaly stuck, and worse, I had to be at an appointment I could not miss in one hour. The movers reconfigured and pushed and squeezed, but nothing worked. Not only did I have to leave, but my neighbors were returning home from work and none of them could get into their apartments because the hallway was completely blocked.

My couch (and all of the money that I spent to buy it and move it) was wasted. It was going to have to be left out on Eighth Avenue for passing dogs to pee on. Homeless people would use its plush cushions for make-shift shelters. I was going to be stuck sitting on the floor.

But then it came to me. What if I had a saw? What if the movers cut an inch off of each leg? Wouldn't it then easily slide it into my apartment? Sure it would be a little lower, but who would notice? A saw! I NEEDED A SAW. But I certainly didn't have one. This is NYC, after all.

I frantically started calling everyone I knew to see if they had a saw or could go and buy one. I would have gone myself, but I had to be somewhere in half an hour and there was no way I could get there and back in time.

Add to that, the crowd of neighbors piling up on the stairs was growing at an exponential pace. There was eye rolling. There was complaining and overly dramatic sighing. The natives were understandably restless; I was causing a shit show.

As the woman who lives across the hall made her way up the stairs with her grandson (and had to climb over my green velvet monster), I blurted out, "Do you have a saw?" She and the movers exchanged conversation in Spanish, then shook their heads. Seconds after entering her apartment, the unimaginable happened. She reappeared with a saw!

I watched in horror and relief as the movers hacked my new couch's little legs off and handed them to me. They pushed again, making a tear in the arm of my pretty, velvet--now legless--couch, and like a new baby thrust into the world with a final arduous push, it finally sat on my living room floor, a mess.

I was relieved. I was devastated. I paid the movers and went to my appointment in a daze. Five minutes after I left, Josh arrived home.

I received a frantic call: "What did you do to this couch?" He had that “Lucy! you got some 'splaining to do” tone. “There are couch legs sitting on the kitchen counter!"

For months I tried to repair it; my mother even ordered new legs from the original manufacturer, but it was hopeless. After getting instruction to properly saw off the remaining nubs, I tried to attach the new ones to no avail.

Forget trying to construct a cover for the arm that had been ripped; what was once an elegant piece of furniture now looked like junkyard scrap.

After, I’d get depressed every time I entered the apartment and saw the eyesore. What followed was a weeks-long search for a new couch, one that I could both afford and that would fit easily through the hallway and door.

I soon learned that the couch Gods were not finished with me.

I got bed bugs and had to throw my velvet nightmare away. Now, fearful of upholstery, we alternate between sitting on the floor atop yoga mats or on a cushionless iron bench.

No New York City dinner party would be complete without tales of real estate/city living horror stories. Only in New York recounts these only-in-New-York experiences.


NYC Couch Doctor: 911 for furniture that won't fit through your door

Only in New York: Living above a drug-addled squatter with my imaginary husband

9 good reasons to rent in a crappy tenement, like interesting neighbors and no holiday tipping

How an UES Peeping Tom sent me back to Hell's Kitchen

The building that loves you long time

Dear Neighbor: I am your worst nightmare

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.