Satire | Why Pitt’s housing carts don’t make sense

Promiti Debi | Staff Illustrator

By Alex Dolinger, Staff Columnist

Due to Pitt’s closure for the semester, I found myself moving out of my dorm far sooner than I expected last Tuesday. This is the third and final time I’ve moved out of Pitt housing, which has given me time to become an expert on the most quintessential part of a Pitt moving experience — those god-awful housing carts.

Have you ever really thought about how horrible they are? I’ll admit, I once thought these carts were the greatest idea ever and heralded them through several moves. Even Chancellor Patrick Gallagher calls them “iconic blue moving bins,” and he is never wrong. But this most recent move was a very sad one, so instead of the typical rush I get when it comes to organizing one’s life into big blue tubs, my spirits were lower than ever before. Thus, my eyes were opened to the horrors of the housing cart. 

Let’s talk about big blue tubs. With the way these carts are sized, you can almost get two in the bottom, but you can’t, so you stack two on top of each other and shove a garbage bag full of miscellaneous belongings in the gap, and that’s supposed to be good enough? The madness of these carts is that they taper in at the bottom, which makes the space you get smaller than you expect. These carts are sneaky and I do not care for it.

When it comes to size, the height is also bad. I am 5’9”, which is the same height as your average dad on a mission, so if I can’t push these carts without ruining my back, then no one can. When pushing one of these carts, you can almost stand up completely and push. However, when fully upright, you have no control of these unwieldy bins on wheels, so you must lean over. Somehow, these carts are structured in such a way that makes this leaning awkward and painful, which means whoever helps you move is going to make jokes about being sore for three days after the move itself, and there’s nothing you can do about it but pretend it’s funny because you feel bad.

If you’re unfamiliar with Pitt’s housing carts, they are big blue monstrosities with wheels that have two handles on either side. These handles make no sense to me. The only discernible purpose for these handles is to hike the cart through doorways or lift it over the stupid stairs that go from Forbes to the quad. Seriously, where’s that ramp?

Anyway, the handles are useless in terms of a long-term pull of the cart. It may seem like you could pull the cart behind you with the handle — like a suitcase, a vessel that makes sense — but the aforementioned unwieldiness makes this impossible. When I most recently tried to pull the cart by the handle, because I never learn, the back of the cart began to swing wildly so the front of the cart rammed into my Achilles tendon. I have never felt so betrayed. These carts are the Razor scooters of adulthood.

This is because these carts are weighted in an incredibly strange way. Overall, the center of gravity on these things is practically nonexistent, as they will slip and slide every which way the moment they touch asphalt. This is a problem when you’re wheeling all of your belongings across Bigelow and they keep listing into Fifth Avenue traffic. All of my kitchenware was nearly flattened by an airport flyer, which would have absolutely pushed me to the edge, as I am very fragile right now.

I am almost as fragile as the tub of mugs that nearly didn’t survive their housing cart journey. When rolling a housing cart down Fifth Avenue, you can hear every single hard object in your cart quivering against each other as those tiny hard wheels are jostled by every tiny pebble on the sidewalk. It’s like these carts were made without knowing that they would be wheeled through the sidewalks of Oakland. There is nothing that can absorb their terror. The street is nothing but shock.

Despite these myriad flaws, I am still in some ways grateful for these carts. I’ve never felt more alive than I feel when my family and I are screaming at each other because the person rolling the cart ran it into the ankles of the person in front of them. But I have a lot of questions for Pitt — about housing carts but also in general. Why are they like this? What was the theory? Why are the handles so wet? When will my dad stop asking me these same questions? Why would you do this to me?

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