Maybe This Wasn’t the Year

Jay and I recently completed our 10th move for the Army. We both could’ve sworn we’d moved more than that, but we counted, twice. Over 22 years, that equates to a move every 2.2 years, which is probably about average for a military family. Each of our moves had some sort of mishap, and over the last few years as the Department of Defense has cut its budget for moving contracts, fewer companies are willing to take the profit loss, which means military families don’t exactly get the picks of the litter. From what we hear, the mishaps seem to be increasing. Add to that the pandemic and the problems moving companies have with staffing, and this move season has been fraught with horror stories. People have posted all sorts of stories about their movers on military Facebook pages, everything from not showing up at all, to only working a day and not coming back, and, of course, there are always the tales of those who demonstrate little to no care for the household goods they are handling. One friend posted a picture on social media recently of a Chick-Fil-A bag full trash and stale, left-over food. She’d purchased lunch for her movers, and they packed their trash in with her kitchen items. That was her answer to the question: How has your move gone? We prepared ourselves for the worst.

Our company was originally scheduled for June 29th. We received a call the week before informing us that they were coming on the 30th instead but still planned to load the truck on July 2. That would mean a two-day pack and one-day load when normally we’re a three-day pack and a two-day load. Our house and garage fill a tractor trailer. And we were already dangerously close to the Fourth of July holiday, which we knew they’d want to take off. This didn’t look promising. The morning of the 30th, we’d barely gotten up and started getting ourselves together when the doorbell rang. I was still packing my suitcase. It might have been 8 a.m. Our driver/crew supervisor, Chris, and the lead packer, Tobias, took a quick tour of the house, directed the other two packers, Christopher and Steve, to their posts, and everyone got to work by 8:30. Tobias took the kitchen, Chris started on the dining room, Steve headed to the basement, and Christopher began on the living room. The crew left at 5 p.m. that first day, but the basement, dining room, and living room were finished, and Tobias had put a big dent in the kitchen. They’d asked us questions throughout the day about how we wanted certain things packed, and we began to feel cautiously optimistic.

When the crew returned the next day on time and ready to work with two extra packers to start on the upstairs while Christopher and Steve starting loading the main floor and basement, we actually began to see a new, more efficient system in action. Why had none of our previous movers done it this way? One crew usually comes and packs the whole house, then a second crew comes to load it all a day or two later. It made so much more sense to have all the same team for the entire job and to start loading while packing continued. In the end we were loaded by late afternoon on July 2, and our household goods arrived at our new home right on time the next morning. They had us unloaded, our furniture set up and put together, and were done and gone by 3 p.m. with nothing broken and only a few minor scratches. This was the best move we’d ever had!

We’d been in the house three days and were making headway on unpacking when disaster struck. It’s almost as if the military moving gods said, “Oh, no, you’re not getting off that easy!” I was getting ready for bed when Jay came running upstairs distraught. He held his head in his hands and kept saying, “I messed up! I messed up bad!” Jay is as stoic and unflappable as they come, and he does tend to joke, so I was torn between concern over his distress and a suspicion that he was messing with me. It took me a minute to get him to tell me what on earth was wrong, but he finally cried, “The basement’s flooding!” I went running downstairs carrying a couple of towels, with Jay hot on my heels saying, “That’s not going to cut it! The basement is FLOODING!!” When we got downstairs, I fully realized that he wasn’t joking. There was a waterfall coming down through the bedroom ceiling, and the water was spreading out into the main room. I needed a lot more towels. It occurred to me that it might just be easier to move.

Jay, still stunned, ran to the garage and grabbed the shop vac, and I retrieved every towel we owned. We vacuumed and mopped well into the wee morning hours, but we did manage to dry up all the water. It turned out the drainage hose on the back of the clothes washer had disconnected itself somehow while I was washing a large load of curtains. The laundry room is on the main level, off the kitchen, and the water had drained into the floor behind the washer, under the baseboard, and down into the basement bedroom. Jay thought it was his fault because he’d hooked up the washer, but then I admitted that I had moved the washer back further toward the wall when I couldn’t open the laundry room door far enough, so it could just as easily have been my fault. Either way, it was an accident.

We called our insurance company the next morning. They were a little surprised to hear from us so soon, since we’d only been clients for about three weeks, but they were good sports about it and sent out a water mitigation service who cut out the soggy ceiling, pulled up the damaged flooring, and set up blowers and de-humidifiers. The repairs start next week. I believe I failed to mention that we bought this house. It’s a lovely, 15-year-old custom built house that had been cared for really well. We managed to fix that in less than four days. On the bright side, we get to renovate the basement a little sooner than we planned. I think we’ll wait till next year to get new countertops, though. I’ve had enough home improvement for the time being. Besides, it’s 2020, and…let’s just leave it at that. No need to tempt fate.