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A Moving Experience to Remember
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Moving is never easy for anyone. Something is bound to go wrong. But for my husband and me, well, there’s one move in particular we will never forget. Fortunately, our son was only two at the time, not old enough to remember the move that snowballed into one fiasco after another.
It happened several years ago, when my husband and I decided move closer to our families. The housing market was very competitive at the time, so we decided to sell our house first, and live in an apartment until the perfect house came along. What started as an uncomplicated, well-organized move, turned into a nightmare we will never forget.
The Thursday before Easter, we were preparing for the movers to come. This can be a very delicate task, when you have a two-year-old who is becoming quite nervous with all of the boxes in his room. The movers came on time, which surprised us; we were not completely packed upon their arrival. But I didn’t panic, and with the help of my in-laws, everything was ready when the movers came for that final load. All we had to do was clean up the left over debris and move small items in our cars. Easy, right?
I was starting to get excited. We were actually going to make it. My husband and my father-in-law were taking a few items we needed to the apartment we rented, and I was going to follow the movers to the warehouse where we were storing our furniture. I gave our two-year-old a kiss, and left him in the capable hands of my mother-in-law and niece.
Everything was going well at the warehouse, except the shortage of storage units available meant that the movers had to be pretty creative in finding a way to fit all of our furniture in the small units. My husband arrived as they were unloading the big stuff. I really didn’t want to know how they were going to get the couches in the small concrete rooms, so I left the movers with my husband, and my father-in-law drove me home so I could finish cleaning out the house.
Our troubles started when I made a phone call to my mother-in-law, to let her know I was on my way home. She sounded a bit stressed, and I soon learned that the people who bought our house had shown up with their moving van, expecting to move in. We were surprised by this, because they knew we were moving out that day, and we had signed a lease agreement with them, allowing us to have possession until midnight. When my mother-in-law told them we were not yet out of the house, they became a little upset. On top of this, my two-year-old was screaming and crying constantly, pacing around in our now empty home. It had never occurred to me, in all the rush that my poor child had thought we moved without him!
The thought of a moving van waiting to unload at my house, and the image of my baby thinking I had left him were more than I could handle. My heart started to race. We were in bumper to bumper traffic, the Thursday before a long holiday weekend. It took us over an hour to get home, and I was panicked the whole time.
When we finally made it home, I was relieved that I did not see a moving van in front of the house. I raced in the front door, comforted to see that my son had fallen asleep. “Everything is going to be okay,” I told myself, and started collecting coat hangers from the closet.
Then I got a call from my husband. On his way home from the storage place, his car died. He had to call a tow truck, and it would be at least an hour before someone would be there to tow his car. My car was at the apartment, and the other baby seat was in my husband’s car. My in-laws’ had taken the back seat out of their car to make room for our son’s crib to take to the apartment, and my father-in-law would need to leave to pick up my husband from where his car was being towed.
I went outside and looked at the garage. It was full of plants and boxes the movers did not have room for on the moving van. Now I really just wanted to cry. I did not see how we were going to get out of the house by that night, unless we had help. Then I did what any desperate mother and wife would do: I started calling U-Haul places.
Most of the places I called just laughed at me. After all, it was after 5:00 p.m. before a Good Friday, one of the busiest moving days. The chances of getting a truck at that point are impossible. Finally, I lucked out. As I broke into tears on the phone, and explained my dilemma to one of the U-Haul dispatchers, she referred me to a man she thought could help me. I was in luck. The man had a truck I could use, but it had to be returned to them by 10:00 a.m. the next morning. What would happen if it was late? They would report the truck as stolen, and we would have to pay for another day. The thought of my stressed two-year-old watching his mother being taken away in handcuffs did send a chill up my spine. Nevertheless, I agreed to the manager’s demands, and told him I would gladly take the truck.
It was one of those situations where you just do what you have to do. I had never driven a truck before, let alone a large U-Haul at night. But I told myself not to panic, and with all the energy I had left, I pulled my 5’2 frame up into the driver’s seat of the truck, and started the motor. Aside from my constant panic, it was sort of fun. I became so skilled, and felt such a sense of power, that I even learned how to adjust the mirrors and back it into the driveway all by myself. I was pleased that I had taken control and not let our predicament get the best of me. But the night was not over yet.
I honestly thought we were going to make it. After scarfing down a fast-food burger just before midnight, we loaded our two cats into my in-laws' van, with a ton of other stuff. We never could have made it this far without my in-laws. My husband started the truck, and with the rest of our things in the back, a 60 pound labrador at my feet and our son sandwiched between us in his car seat, we were on our way.
We took the labrador to my dad’s house, the in-laws to our apartment, took the cats out of their car and sent my in-laws home for a very long, much deserved rest. We were so tired, we hardly noticed that the air conditioner had gone out in the apartment. We were too tired to put up the crib, so we put our son between us and the three of us collapsed into deep sleep. That is, until about 2:00 a.m., when our son woke up, screaming with an ear infection. I fumbled around for pain reliever, and carried him into the den, where the two of us slept upright, with his head on my chest, to ease his ear pain.
Much later, I awoke to my husband standing in the doorway to the bedroom. I peeled our son away from my sweaty body and asked what was wrong.
“The alarm went off,” he said, shaking his head. “I was so tired, I turned it off, and went back to sleep.”
I looked at the clock. It was 8:30. The truck had to be back by 10:00 a.m., or else. Unfortunately, we still had to unload the truck with what we needed at the apartment. Of course, the first thing we did was pick up the phone and call the manager of the U-Haul place. “Like I said,” he repeated. “Someone is coming for the truck at ten. If it’s not here, it’s reported stolen.”
I made another phone call. This one was to my sister. After hearing my panic (and the thought of me in a jail cell) she got my niece and nephew out of bed, and the three of them came to help us.
I don’t think there was ever a U-Haul unloaded so quickly. Forming an assembly line, my husband got the items out of the truck, my nephew carried them to a covered walkway near our apartment, my niece and I carried the items inside, and my sister comforted my tired, sick son.
When the truck was empty, we showered them with thank-you’s, I loaded our son into his car seat, and followed my husband and the truck back to the U-Haul place. We had that truck there at ten on the nose, and managed to get our son to a 10:30 doctor’s appointment. We ate lunch, and the three of us crashed on the bed in the apartment, not caring whether the air was working or not.
Sometimes, I wonder how we managed to survive those twenty-four hours. It was definitely a move we will never forget.