28 June 2014

Moving, Part 1: The Relocation Blues

A month or so ago I was browsing in a bookstore (one of the two main places I cannot be trusted with a credit card, the other being a fabric/craft shop) when I ran across the following quote:  "Moving is the second worst thing in the world...the first is ethnic cleansing."  While perhaps a bit overstated, I generally agree with the sentiment and am glad to have largely survived my most recent cross-country relocation extravaganza.

Wouldn't this be so much easier?

Even in the best of circumstances, moving is never fun.  Oh, sure, it's exciting at first when you're fantasizing about how best to rearrange your furniture in a new place.  Then you arrive and discover all the dubious things that need repairing because you were too busy evaluating those 30 houses in three days for overall structure to notice all the little dings and dents and scuffs and dirt and questionable constructions.  And that doesn't even take into account the actual moving process, which starts with the oh-so-careful labeling of boxes in exquisite detail and which rapidly devolves into a mad free-for-all of throwing completely unrelated items into the same boxes and labeling them all "Misc" just so you can finish before the movers arrive, guaranteeing that you will spend the next several months fruitlessly trying to find your favorite spaghetti fork till you eventually give up and purchase another one--only to discover the original one packed inexplicably in a box of Christmas lights the following December.  And that's assuming that the move goes smoothly.

In our case, I think, "smooth" is a relative term.  The moving crew arrived to load us up early on a Friday morning.  They were all very young and polite and moved with such alacrity that they had half our stuff in trucks before noon.  Because we were still frantically throwing things in boxes, I wasn't able to supervise everything as it was leaving my home.  That should have been my first red flag.  Eventually we ran out of boxes and so the movers just started taking loose items as they were and lumping them in with other stuff.  Once loaded up, they drove off into the sunset with all our belongings to await transport.

We stayed in the Georgia house that night, intending to thoroughly clean it and do all the paint touchups in an (admittedly over-ambitious) attempt to save money, but we were all so exhausted that it just didn't happen and I had to admit defeat to the realtor and let him hire a cleaning crew behind us.  The next day we loaded up our cars (late) and began the lengthy drive to New Jersey.  We ended up having to leave a few mostly irrelevant things behind in the garage because we simply couldn't get them all in our vehicles; as it was, the Spousal Unit's little sports car look disturbingly like the Beverly Hillbillies' truck on the way to California.

After innumerable pit stops for the dog and/or the child, I finally pulled safely into my New Jersey driveway around 3 or 4 am after mainlining Pepsi non-stop and with no small thanks to the girlie for staying up chatting all night to help me keep awake.  Twenty minutes later I was out on the road again to locate the wayward Spousal Unit and lead his GPS-less car to the house.  We all finally got to bed around 6 am Sunday, just as the day was well and truly dawning.  I know that's when I always like to go to sleep.

Caffeine drip.

 The movers arrived bright and early the next morning with all our belongings in tow.  They whipped through unloading at warp speed and were on their way barely 5 hours later, but not before treating me some prime mover porn as they basically performed a bucket brigade with our boxes, so I got to watch the rippling muscles of a bunch of attractive 25-year-olds.  Try not to be jealous.

This is when they weren't flinging boxes at each other.
My new boyfriend (he just doesn't know it yet).

As the morning progressed, it didn't take long for me to discover why the movers were so speedy all the time...in their youthful zeal to get the job done quickly, they weren't as careful as they might have been in stacking boxes, causing several to split or tear.  One even had a gash torn across the side, which mercifully occurred about an inch and a half above the printer housed inside.

In addition to my many now-crunched boxes, several small storage carts/units were damaged in one way or another (one is missing two wheels, for example, and hovering precariously in the sewing room like the Leaning Tower of Sewing Equipment).  At one point I went upstairs to discover a dresser lying on the floor of my new bedroom and one of the movers attempting to glue back together one of the three feet that had come off.  Shelving units from my office were unnecessarily dismantled in Georgia and left swaying in my office here (they're still a bit on the wonky side, even reassembled). My desk was significantly damaged as well and had to be repaired so it would, you know, not fall over.  Admittedly, most of my furniture is of the super-fancy kind that requires lock-screws, multiple tools, and extensive swearing to assemble, but it's still mine and I still prefer it in one piece.  Furniture which was originally dark now has white streaks on it, and things which were white now have dark smears.  My refrigerator's freezer drawer was disassembled to make it fit through the door, but then returned to me coated in a fine black dust.   Yesterday I spent several minutes picking up straight pins and buttons from my driveway, presumably fallen from a broken box.  Perhaps the coup de grace, though, was the Unit's completely trashed work cabinet, which appears to have resulted from the movers setting heavy boxes on top of said cabinet, the removable countertop of which had been taken off for some reason.  Needless to say, the heavy boxes shifted in transit and slammed into the exposed drawers and fell right on through to the bottom of the cabinet.  Well done, movers...well done.  Ironically, all our fragile items seem so far to have come through just fine, so clearly the movers are able to take extra care when needed.  Apparently they just didn't feel the need for everything else.


Ultimately I don't think the guys were deliberately careless; I just think they were very young and perhaps overly enthusiastic.  And it will be a while before I know if anything in the many smushed or torn boxes is damaged.  Still, I'm keeping track of the carnage as we unpack and taking pictures for a claim down the road.

Damaged or not, it still feels much more like home with all of our stuff here, even if half of it is still buried in a cardboard jungle creeping through all of the rooms like the ubiquitous Kudzu we just left behind.  Eventually everything will get unpacked, but in the meantime I will dive back into the cardboard chaos with my trusty machete in hand (and by 'machete,' I mean 'box cutter'), and chanting the mantra of unpackers the world over:  "It's around here somewhere..."

If you don't hear from me in a week, send out a search party.  With cookies.

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