Sunday, January 24, 2010

Moving Tales Part I

I well remember the first time real movers actually moved me. My stuff, I mean. I was being transferred within my company to a distant city, so my employer picked up my moving expenses. The day of the move, I woke up, let the movers in, then sat and watched them. I didn’t even have to pack one box. Granted, I was 29 and lived in a one-bedroom apartment with old milk crates as bookshelves. In fact, I could tell the movers intentionally moved slow to drag the day out and get in a good six hours of work. Regardless, it was so painless I decided I would never move by myself again.

And I didn’t. Two years later, I hired movers to move my furniture across town. Fast forward to my moving in with St. Pauli Girl. We rented a house for a year before purchasing one roughly ten minutes away. We moved what we could in our cars and hired a “discount” company she had used in the past to move the furniture. We’ll call that company Rip-Cat.

I went to work the day of the move and enjoyed another stress-free move. Afterwards, I stopped at the old house only to find a pile of blankets and a big easy chair in the living room. “Hmmm, guess they’ll be coming back for that,” I thought. But no. I went back to the new house where St. Pauli Girl informed me that the chair wouldn’t fit on the moving truck, so the movers just left it behind. “But they’re movers,” I said. “They’re supposed to move our stuff. All of it.” We never did get the chair (it was old and in bad shape anyway) but were assessed $50 by the landlord for its removal.

A year later, we moved again. With great reluctance, I let St. Pauli Girl hire Rip-Cat again mostly because they were really cheap. Now this one was partially my fault. It was the first time I had sold a house, and no one bothered to explain that when you close the deal, you’re expected to have moved out at that point. I figured we could move when it was convenient. But it’s not like we waited a month; we moved out the day after closing because that’s when our new house was available. Anyway, at 10:00 a.m., Rip-Cat still hadn’t shown up. Meanwhile, the buyer’s realtor knocked on the door and wanted to know if we intended to vacate the house. Rip-Cat finally arrived just before the buyer’s friends arrived in pickup trucks with her furniture. So we were moving out at the exact time they were moving in. To make things easier, St. Pauli Girl and I moved all of our stuff to the garage while the Rip-Cat movers loaded it on the truck We still had a half-garage full of stuff when Rip-Cat announced that the truck was full, and they were pulling out. “But you’re movers,” I said again. “You’re supposed to move all of our stuff.” But there was no time to argue. I had to make 3 or 4 trips in my car to clear out the garage.

Two years later, time to move again. This time we were moving to a town 120 miles away. “This time we will call real movers,” I told St. Pauli Girl. “Real movers actually come to your house, look at all your stuff, know ahead of time what they are supposed to move, quote you a price, and know immediately how big a truck they need and how many movers it will take.”

Real movers are also outrageously expensive. So . . . St. Pauli Girl called Rip-Cat. In their defense, this time a guy actually came out and looked over everything. And then quoted us an unbelievably low price. Despite my misgivings, my wallet overruled me.

The day of the move, we waited and waited. Finally, we called Rip-Cat, and they assured us they were on their way. The movers showed up at 1:00 p.m. fresh from moving someone’s piano across town. “Um, you do realize we are moving 120 miles from here?” we asked the movers.

“What? That’s impossible,” said the lead mover, flipping through his notebook.

“I’m quite certain where we are moving to,” I replied.

“Man, Gary did it to us again.” The lead mover called Gary, his boss. I listened to him cuss back and forth before he finally hung up and rubbed his forehead. “If we knew we were leaving town, we’d have brought the good truck. I’m not sure this one will make it.”

They finally jumped into action. And of course we helped-- otherwise it would have been midnight before we got to our new house. At about 5:00, the truck was getting full. The movers said that’s all they could do. “But, but, but, there’s the grill, the smoker and half a garage full of stuff. You’re movers! You’re supposed to move all our stuff. Gary did an inventory a week ago!”

St. Pauli Girl took charge of the situation and started loading more stuff on the truck herself. We probably crammed in another 400 pounds before she decided that’s all the truck could handle. Not too bad; we could get the rest in our cars on another trip.

The caravan headed south and arrived at our new house about 8:00. One mover stood in the back of the truck throwing down stuff to the other mover, St. Pauli Girl, her two kids, one of their friends and myself. I’ve never worked so hard in my life—and paid for it. We got the truck unloaded in just under two hours. Then I had to talk to Gary on the phone.

“You know the price I quoted you was for a cross-town move,” he said. “Two hours and 120 miles away is going to be a little more expensive.”

“But, but, but, you came and looked at our stuff, and we told you where we were moving to. You wrote stuff down.” His daughter had just had a baby that day, he explained. He might have forgotten the details.

But the new price was still pretty good, so I simply said “fine.”

“And don’t worry about the guys,” Gary said. “I told them to take their time coming back, and I’d pick up their dinner tab.”

Rip-Cat was finally eliminated from our Rolodex. We decided we couldn’t afford even their cheap rates. And I’ll bet anything those movers are still trying to get Gary to reimburse them for their fast food dinner.

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