I really wanted to be done telling you about the moving stuff.
Seriously, how much do you even care at this point?
But moving day…
It was a catastrofuck.
Look, I know no move ever goes smoothly, okay? Military movers break/lose/steal shit, even my nifty corporate move was imperfect—I literally had to scream the phrase, “would you mind not lighting my couch on fire, thanks?!” at one point, so I know all about how there’s no amount of money that can be thrown at this issue to make it better. People are coming into your home, handling your shit, and transporting it across vast distances in a vehicle that’s not legally considered safe to carry an animal across the street. Of course things are going to go wrong!
But this… this was so drama.
Naturally, I consulted friends.
In their considered opinion, this story must be told. If only so you can take it out to keep you warm when your movers show up four hours late or ding a doorway with your couch or something silly.
Hang on. I gotta get my wine on before I start. This is too fresh for me, and I can’t retell it—again—sober.
Okay, I’m back. You’re goddamned right we labeled that box “Open Immediately.”
So moving day dawned, and it was the usual sort of stress but we were prepared and we’d said our goodbyes—
Nope, gotta back up a bit. Because in all honesty, when we woke up Thursday morning, we weren’t entirely sure it was moving day.
I’d gotten a call Tuesday, trying to schedule my pickup for FRIDAY. Which the overeducated among you will recognize as a day of the week that is not Thursday.
Not, you know, the day I’d booked and paid for and arranged to have a guy meet me there with the keys and a lease. Not, since you asked, the day Amazon had promised to deliver a truly spectacular cat tree* to my new doorstep, which sort of meant I really needed to be there. No, they thought I’d be cool with Friday and were honestly surprised that I expected that whole Thursday thing to be taken seriously.
There was call on Wednesday from another driver who could handle my pickup Thursday night, but he went on and on about how I probably don’t want that. Yeah, I do—it’s fine. So our status Thursday morning was Cautiously Optimistic. K was on standby, ready to come over and sit in an empty room with the animals to keep them safe and distracted while their home was emptied of everything that mattered to them and we set about throwing the last of our crap in boxes.
Then the phone rang. Different driver. Said he could be there around 2pm.
Called K to come over early; we were ready.
Early movers are better than late ones, and that was our only hiccup and—
When the guy got there he looked around and said, basically:
- Hi, I’m from Company That Is Not The One You Hired. Surprise! You hired a broker, not a carrier, even though you asked all the right questions and did your research and did everything right.
- .. I don’t know who did your estimate, but you’re gonna use every inch of my truck if I manage to cram it all in. Which… maybe not. Yes, even though your “estimate” was based on a bunch of furniture you’ve since craigslisted. Sorry!
- Please initial here saying you understand that we have up to a month to deliver your possessions. Oh, you wanted them this weekend? Did you pay for priority service? Because that’s an extra thousand dollars or so, but we can totally do that. Oh, the company you hired told you it would just happen for free? That’s cute, but see here in the fine print…
Yes, once I went over my contract with this dude and a fine-tooth comb, we understood each other a little better. I had been told that all the important stuff was on the first page, particularly the information in CAPS, bold, and red. He directed my attention to the contradicting stuff below, which—and we argued about this—could legally be taken to mean anything or nothing, and was therefore, in my expert opinion, fucking worthless.
I called The Company and tore into the nearest representative. His take on the situation went a little something like this:
- That guy is just a driver, you shouldn’t even be talking to him. Drivers don’t know anything about anything, that’s why they drive a truck for a living.
- The company on his paperwork is one of the companies we own, we didn’t subcontract.
- The fact that the man standing in your parlor has never heard of us before today just proves that he’s new; he hasn’t had a chance to notice who signs his paychecks. We’ll be calling his dispatcher and informing them of his conduct.
- Yeah, we technically have like a week or two—or whatever—to deliver the goods but it never takes that long, especially during the busy season. Trust me, Chase, (oh, if they’d paid me a dollar every time they’d said those words!) you’ll have your stuff this weekend. It might even beat you to Saint Louis if you stop for dinner.
- If you’re really worried, pay the premium fee.
- Seriously, stop talking to that driver.
I informed him that I’d be keeping in touch and that I expected him to spend every moment between that phone call and my next one wracking his brain and asking around the office for ways to make this right. Because from where I sat—looking at a contract that promised explicitly that my move would be handled by his company and not subcontracted out—what they’d pulled looked like a bait-and-switch, which is illegal in every state in the Union.
I had to hang up at that point because Husband was back from finding out we couldn’t get the car fixed.
Shit, I forgot to mention that part, didn’t I?
On his way to donate one last load of crap I don’t love fine quality household goods, Husband discovered the AC in the car wasn’t working. That is, it was cold (charged) but not blowing. Which was about to be a giant fucking problem, since we would have two adults, two cats, and two gassy, panting greyhounds in the car for six hours and it was hot as Satan’s ass crack outside.
- Time—NOT TODAY, SORRY!
Where were we?
Right, I’d just hung up on a lying asshole who had my money, Husband had just walked in from not getting my car fixed, and a mover was standing there laughing his ass off because he almost never gets to watch a furious ginger disembowel someone over the phone.
This is where things go sideways.
See, while the mover in front of me—let’s call him Hank because it doesn’t matter—was not to blame for what had come before, he nevertheless became a lightning rod for Husband’s outrage. Hank kept repeating that we’d have been better off dealing directly with his company, as it’s “always better to go directly with a carrier than through a broker.” I know this, I did my research, but brokers have access to the same websites I do and they know what questions I’m going to ask and what answers to give to sound like they’re not a broker. They know which things I’m going to check up on and how to fake their background, their company stats, everything. And, I pointed out to Hank, my contract even contained the line “We are a carrier and will never subcontract your move to another company.”
“Huh,” Hank mused. “I’ve never seen them so bold as to put it in print. That’s… wow. They’re gonna get sued.”
HIM: Okay, but you’re saying even with that deal it’s still another… thousand dollars more than we were told!
HANK: Yes, but that gets you the full truck—right up to the door, I’m gonna pack that thing—and guaranteed delivery within three days. I’ll get—
ME: Okay, but what if we come in under the estimate? Because like I said, I have less stuff now. What happens if we come in way under? Can we still get the guaranteed delivery with the money I’m saving?
HANK: Coming in under your estimate doesn’t save you any money.
ME: Yes it does. It’s right here in the contract. Under price per cubic foot.
HANK: That’s for overages.
ME: It doesn’t specifically say overages.
HANK: It doesn’t mention refunds either. I’ve never heard of a discount or refund for using less space; it’s not something my company does.
ME: But they… it… FUCK! This contract is pointless!
HIM: We could get a U-Haul for less than this!
HIM: I could rent a U-Haul and—
ME: And who would load it?
HANK: I would really advise against that. With a U-Haul they’re gonna offer you a great rate, but then there’s insurance, fuel, you’re getting a smaller truck…
HIM: I’m gonna go look it up! (storms upstairs)
ME: (endures mini-stroke like a goddamned zen master)
HANK: Let me go call my partner and see what I can do for you.
ME: You do that.
We have now come to the part of my day where Husband rage-ordered a U-Haul truck and four guys to load it, plus four more to unload it in St. Louis. And insurance. Because—I will allow he had a point here—it was just over $600.**
Technically—and he’s quick to point this out—I told him to do it.
In my defense: he was insisting it was the best and only way and time was of the essence and all he was waiting on was my okay and I’m reeeeeeally bad at saying no to him. And I need to work on that because just as Husband marched off to tell Hank what we’d done and where he could stuff that giant truck, Hank was on his way back with the news that he’d got permission to do our entire move—regardless of volume, including delivery this weekend—for the originally quoted price.
Husband rushed upstairs to see about cancelling his U-haul (Dear U-haul: get some people on that cancellation line, m’kay? Because people do change their mind and making them wait half an hour before they can talk to even an incompetent moron doesn’t leave them with a great impression of your service in the future) and I was left to sit with Hank, listing every person I’d ever spoken with at the “moving company” I’d hired, along with their alleged title, email, phone numbers… whatever I could give him. Because his company was going to insist that they pay the remainder of what was owed for this job and wanted names of those to blame.
It was all very Soviet, if you want to picture it—I had nothing left in my parlor office but the big desk and one lamp granting grim, direct illumination on the man stood in front of me, reeking of cigarette smoke and taking detailed notes while I sat in shadow, naming names.
Finally—finally!—my possessions could be loaded on the truck.
It only took another eight hours after that; no big.
But! Now we’d be driving the animals at night, so AC wasn’t so critical…
The AC kicked on after about an hour of driving and hasn’t been an issue since.
But we made it! Just about dawn we rolled up to our home for the next year.*** Yay! Of course, it was too light out to sleep at that point and we had nothing but dog pillows anyway, so we lounged around on the tile floor and waited for it to be late enough for breakfast.
In a house with no AC (lines frozen) and no hot water (heater not heating). Renting is awesome!
Hank called around 10; would we mind if he delivered today instead of Saturday? Like, around noon?
Problem: Hank needed a very specific form of payment (postal money order, which I didn’t even know was a thing—I’ve always just got them from the bank) and we found out after going to get one that U-haul hadn’t refunded our money.
Because they hadn’t cancelled the order after all.
Cut to us frantically dealing with them/transferring money/covering our shit just as Hank rolled up our driveway.
To unload not one but THREE smashed or broken desks.
Also? I think this house is haunted. But not even cool haunted, because there was a thing in our lease that said it might have been used as a meth lab at some point. I wasn’t worried at first, because the clause above that one says the house is in Kansas City and has a fireplace.
But I kept hearing voices, only when everyone was quiet, you know? Like when the animals were still and Husband was quiet or absent… honestly, I thought I was having a psychotic break—stress and lack of sleep and maybe dehydration… and then one of the movers came to me and asked what was in the storage room that kept talking.
ME: You’ve just been putting the green and red storage totes in there?
MOVER: Yeah. And the tool boxes. And those clear ones with the—
ME: (tired) That’s’ all Christmas stuff. Nothing in there talks.
MOVER: (wide-eyed) Nah, nah… don’t be playin’ with me.
ME: … Wait. You heard voices too?
MOVER: No, I don’t hear voices. I heard somethin’ talkin’.
ME: Yeah, that’s called hearing voices.
MOVER: Woman don’t be playin’. I believe in ghosts—
ME: (scared now) THERE IS NOTHING IN THAT ROOM THAT TALKS! Stop trying to scare me.
MOVER: Look, it’s probably just (jostles green tote) Somethin’ in here—
ME: No, stop. Those are Christmas ornaments. NOTHING TALKS.
MOVER: (looks at me)
ME: (looks around)
MOVER: I am outta here with that.
ME: (shoves past him to leave first)
So we have ghosts that died in a methsplosion, broken desks—including my pretty little writing desk that I tell everyone is an antique even though it’s just Bombay Company—and I can’t find any of the sheets that actually fit our bed—which is perfect, actually, because Hank put it together wrong anyway and also lost some of the pieces. Why put sheets on a death trap?
But Alexander Hamilton loves his new scratchy tree.
* We’re gon’ circle back to that later. I managed to stump amazon, and I didn’t even need a vibrator this time.
** Note for those who are thinking “Holy shit, that’s what I’m gonna do next time!” Husband later admitted the truck he could order off the U-haul site was much smaller than Hank’s truck. We’d have had to make two trips. Or, I suppose if we didn’t have animals we could have towed the car with one of the trucks and one of us could drive each truck… but it’s not safe to leave animals in a towed car, so that’s out. And two trucks would have been more money up-front anyway, so… yeah, it just doesn’t work. Fuck everything. Just don’t move. Or if you do? Burn everything and start over like Cherie did.
*** True story: the sun was coming up just as the bridge came into view and the first strains of Eye of the Tiger played on the radio. Alexander Hamilton even shut up for a few minutes—it was pretty epic and picturesque and exactly the sort of thing I wanted to document. And if I hadn’t stupidly packed the camera in a back compartment under eighteen inches of dog pillows and blankets, you’d have photos or even video. But I was an exhausted idiot, so you’ll just have to trust me. Also? I couldn’t even get the dogs interested in the river. So I was pressed against the window like a little kid, all, “Lookit the water! You guys, look at all that big water!” and they just lay in the back glaring at me, praying I didn’t wake the damned cats.