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How a Professional Mover Spends His Sundays

In 2003, after encountering a woman and her two young children on the subway who needed to move out of a shelter but couldn’t pay for it, Adonis Williams volunteered to help. Word spread, and soon he was getting calls from people who were about to be evicted or were escaping domestic violence.

Fast forward, and Mr. Williams has gone from working solo out of a Dodge Caravan to managing a regular crew of movers and driving a 20-foot truck.

He has been in the business for so long, he’s started to track major milestones of repeat clients. “Parents will say to me, ‘Move my son into the dorms,’” said Mr. Williams. “I’ll move that person out of college and, a few years later, into their own apartment. A few years after that, into their girlfriend’s apartment, and then a bigger apartment, because they now have kids.”

Mr. Williams, 50, lives in St. Albans, Queens, with his cat, Frisky.

MEOW I wake up at 7. Even on days off, my cat will jump on my chest once she sees me not getting up — she doesn’t realize I don’t have to work, but she knows she has to eat. On work days, I leave my house at 8 religiously, even if the job is five blocks from me. If I’m early, I’ll sit outside reading emails.

MILITARY MISSION The only time I eat breakfast are the days I’m off. When I wake up on a workday, I’m going over the details of the job like it’s a military mission: I’m working out my route to the job, I’m reading emails, and checking for last-minute stuff.

TRUCKIN’ My sister meets the movers and drives them to the job. I’m driving in the truck alone, alone, alone. I love it. The truck is always parked in front of my house. I walk to the truck, fire it up, plug in the GPS and send a link to the client so they can see the truck in real time like an Uber.

There’s a lot of stuff you realize over the years that keeps your customers friendly. They’re stressed about the move — most people can’t tell the landlord, “I’m not going to be out because the movers didn’t show up” — so once you send them that link, they send you a smiley face. A lot of times they’ll ask me, what do you guys want for breakfast? You can gauge how people are feeling about the move based on how they treat you. If they don’t like the job you’re doing, they don’t feed you. If you’re doing a great job, they come with Gatorades and water.

WORTH THE TICKET You can’t plan parking beforehand because you don’t know which cars are going to be where. Even when you know there is a designated unloading spot, you’ll get some guy with a plaque parked there. If you have a fire hydrant on the block, that’s my parking spot. Now granted, the parking spot is going to cost me because I’m going to get a ticket, but I do the math and it works out.

BOUNDARIES I used to do stuff like, if a mattress wouldn’t fit through the stairs, I’d get a rope and pull the mattress and box spring from the first floor all the way up through the window. There was a review where a guy was like, “I hired Adonis movers, and I ended up getting the A-Team!” We were all pulling this rope, and it was a windy day. In the beginning I didn’t know the consequences.

Or it could be a sofa that doesn’t fit in that elevator. “Well, sir, you’re on the 22nd floor — how did it fit the first time?” What happened is that they called a sofa doctor, he took the couch apart and put it together upstairs, but they don’t want to pay that extra fee. How do I tell my guys, with a straight face, you are carrying a couch down 22 flights? I used to try and do it, and somebody was always mad at me. Now, I’ll simply say, “It doesn’t fit. The same way it got up into this apartment is the same way it has to come down, so you’ve got to call the sofa doctor dude.”

SOFT SKILLS People have a short memory. They’ll say, “Don’t leave the door open.” And I’m like, “Ma’am, when the movers moved you in, do you think they had a box, put it down, and closed the door each time?”

I treat everyone nicely, though. I’ll say, “Ma’am, I understand your concerns about your packages in the lobby being left alone. I’m going to be here the whole time. If someone comes in and looks suspicious, I’m going to jump right on them, I’m going to be the UPS cop.” Once you put a little humor in there, you can usually deflate the situation.

COFFEE BREAK A typical move will be 10 a.m. to noon to get the stuff out of the apartment, then an hour for the drive and one hour to get everything in. By 2, I’m done. I can go to my local Dunkin’ Donuts. I get a medium iced coffee, four milks, four sugars. I can’t take cream, and I don’t want that almond milk or that oat milk — I can’t trust it. Coffee costs too much to be experimenting. I’m a guy of habits. When they see me come through the door, my coffee is ready.

BRUISED APPLES I go to Key Foods. They are pretty friendly with me; I like to go where people know me. I’m not a complain-y kind of guy. Someone might say to me, “Hey, sir, the apple or tomato you have there has a bruise.” I keep the bruised apples so someone else doesn’t get them. I know I could just cut that bruise right off.

NARROW COOKING LANE If I finish a move at 2, I’m home by 3 and can cook dinner. Now, with the internet, you can really get down and cook anything. But mostly I stay in my lane. I can fry some chicken, I can cook a steak, I can make pork chops, I like making pasta.

NEWS AND THE COMPETITION At night, I watch the news: CNN until 8 and then MSNBC. I’ll read emails and reviews — I don’t just read my reviews. If a company has one star, I’m trying to find out what the hell they did: The mover goes up on the price, shows up late, breaks stuff and refuses to pay, or doesn’t come with any tools. That’s why I have a truck full of tools, come on time and never complain.

WHITE NOISE Every night is a struggle, because I have work on my mind — even stuff like: “Oh my gosh, now I remember where those screws are! They’re in the back of the TV!” I say, “OK Google, good night,” and Google Home plays these cricket sounds, or it will play soothing music, or tell me a story, or rain. That rain on a tin roof, let me tell you.

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