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It’ll be a moving experience all right, but probably not in a good way

Submitted by on Monday, 20 July 2009 No Comment

House secured: Check.

Signing date set: Check.

Movers booked: Should happen Tuesday.

And that’s when stomach cramps set in, because no matter how much you organize, no matter how well-prepared you are, something is going to go wrong.

Maybe you’ll luck out and it will be minor. Maybe the Moving Muses will seriously have it out for you and it will be a borderline disaster. There is no way, though, that you’re going to emerge unscathed.

Though this is my first military move, I have ample experience life schlepping stuff from place to place, sometimes within the same town, three times across states. Journalism is like the military in the early stages of a career: Three years and out.

The first professional move – 316 miles from West Virginia to Kentucky – was deceptively easy, with only a tiny amount of silliness. As I unpacked, I found my nieces’ rock collection. They’d even wrapped them carefully and lovingly in scads of paper. You’d think the packers were getting paid by the hour and the movers were getting paid by the pound.

The last professional move – 2,768 miles from North Carolina to California – wasn’t so bad either once I got past the 14 hours it took to pack. Despite spending a half hour with an inventory sheet, the agent had seriously underestimated how much stuff I could cram into a two-bedroom apartment. The company sent only one packer. One glacial-slow packer.

Nothing was crashed, crunched or cracked when it arrived, though the movers did manage to lose the brackets that attach the mirror to my dresser. Almost 11 years later, I still haven’t found anyone to fix that for me.

The middle move – 456 miles from Kentucky to North Carolina – was a classic encounter with “I Don’t Give A Flip About Your Stuff Because I Get Paid Either Way” Movers Inc.

Fortunately, I could squeeze an amazing amount of crap into a Ford Probe – microwave, coffee pot, clothes, a few plates and cups – and still have room for the dog and cat. Luckily, I’d decided to leave my couch in Kentucky and buy a new one in North Carolina.

That’s how I managed to survive for the month it took the movers to deliver my things: Microwave meals and sleeping on the couch.

It became a running joke with my new boss. “Are the movers here yet?” he’d ask every day. “Nope,” I’d reply.

I called. I nagged. I practically begged. No dice. It’ll get there when it gets there, I was told. Translation: The contract allowed them 30 days to deliver it, and they were going to use every last one of them.

Almost. On Day 29, I got the call. After my stuff had sat for almost a month in a warehouse in Alabama, the movers were ready to move.

Joy quickly turned to sorrow that morphed to near rage when I saw the condition of the boxes. Many were heavily water damaged. Others were smashed. One box – the one that contained computer components – was both.

I spent ages filing claims and washing clothes. Not surprisingly, my computer hard drive had died. Yes, they had to replace it but that process also took close to a month.

The moral of the story: Expect disasters. Expect major disasters. That way, you’ll be happy if the worst you find when you unpack are carefully swaddled rocks.

And haul the computer in the car.

I have a backup plan in case our things detour to Washington State this time. Once again, I’m leaving the couch. We plan to buy a new sleeper sofa. If that can’t be delivered in time, the guys will think air mattresses are great fun.

The military base has a lending closet for basic cooking gear, so at least the guys won’t have to subsist on microwave mac and cheese – though they’d think that’s great fun as well.

I’m very scared for my china cabinet, though, which is way too big to fit in the car unless I put the guys in a U-Haul. Six feet tall with spindly wooden trim and glass doors. China and crystal service for 12.

My only consolation is that it’s all open stock, in case “I Don’t Give A Flip About Your Stuff Because I Get Paid Either Way” Movers Inc. shows up again.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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