My recent travels around the Front Range have led me to revisiting a term my old boss coined: Gak.

For a brief spell about a decade ago I worked for a delivery and moving company. It was a physically exhausting job, but from a spacial reasoning standpoint it was fascinating. Plus the fact that my boss usually had a pretty good sense of humor and would make up words that he would use with the crew somehow made the hard work a bit more fun.

For example, “Derek and Adam, you guys go get the mattrii [mattresses], we’ll load those first.”

I learned so much from my boss at that job about how to prepare people’s stuff for moving. From the proper way to wrap sharp kitchen knives so no one gets cut, to the best way to wrap furniture with drawers with a special plastic wrap to keep them secure, to how to fit all of that stuff in a seemingly too small space. He was truly the master of spacial reasoning magic.

The crew and I often stood in awe at the end of the loading job, not quite sure how we did it. Somehow we had fit a household’s whole life in our 26 foot trailer when the master raised his magic packing wand.

One term we used a lot on the job was “gak”. How much gak a household had when we arrived was often directly proportional to how long it took us to load everything up.

What is gak?

Simply, gak is all the loose stuff that isn’t in a box or somehow otherwise contained.

One area this would come up a lot was the garage, think loose tools (especially the long-handled ones), hoses, rope, and the tons of other miscellaneous stuff most people have in their garages. Sometimes gak could be clothes that would end up piled on top of the couch in a specific way in the moving truck. Other common gak items are lamps and space heaters.

Basically gak is all that little stuff that either you don’t seem to have the right sized box for or doesn’t really fit in a box without taking up precious more space in your moving truck than is necessary. It’s also any and all of the stuff you either forgot to pack or waited till the last minute and now don’t have a box to put it in when your movers arrive.

In terms of packing the moving truck, gak is the stuff that goes on top or is packed around all the other stuff that is in containers.

Fitting a bunch of squares together in an efficient manner is usually a whole lot easier than fitting a bunch of randomly and possibly odd shaped stuff together.

Also, when stuff is loose your mover has to make a separate trip for each armload of gak, whereas, if this stuff were in a container that could be stacked, he could use a dolly and move as much as SIX TIMES as much stuff in one load. That can make a huge time difference, and thus difference in your moving bill!

Recently I told you about my experiences with organizing food while on the road. I’ve also been thinking, “What’s my gak?” each time I’m moving from one place to another.

Why? Efficiency.

As I mentioned before, being efficient allows me to retain my own precious energy.

More gak = less efficiency.

Less gak = more efficiency.

What does this look like for me?

What this means is that I contain my stuff as much as possible when I’m traveling. Besides my suitcase for clothes I also have plastic bin containers that I round my stuff up in when I’m preparing to move along. How many I have depends on the trip itself.

The times where I forgot this precious gak lesson I ended up making far more trips than were really necessary to pack my truck. I found myself hearing my old boss’s voice in the back of my head, “Hahahahahha, what’s your gak, Tracy, what’s your gak?!?!”

So what’s your gak? Now that you know what gak is, what have you noticed about it in your own life, whether that’s gak when it comes to moving or traveling I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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