Movin’ and Groovin’

If I never move again, it will be too soon.

I’ve been quiet for the past week because I’ve been dealing with moving drama.   

When I write “drama,” I mean gut-wrenching, agonizing, make-me-cry stress and frustration combined with bursts of fury over unscrupulous and unfair business practices.

Did you know that moving is ranked third (behind Spouse’s Death and Divorce) on the Holmes-Rahe scale?  Relocation Stress Syndrome, or Transition Trauma, is an officially recognized psychological diagnosis.  Most of the posts I found on the subject deal with seniors relocating to care facilities but the symptoms of sleep disturbance, grief, depression, disorientation, exhaustion and anxiety feel pretty real to me and mine right now.

Why is moving so hard?

Our move was part necessity, part choice.  We’ve been living in a rental and owning a home we rented out.  My job wasn’t paying the bills and was gearing up to pay even fewer of them.  My husband was frustrated by and underappreciated for his work.  Financially, we needed to move.  The choice to leave the Small Town for the Big One, can be summed up like this – We were happy, just not happy enough.

So when it came time to schedule the actual move, I figured this would be a piece of cake.  I mean, I had JUST done this, right?  Nine months of living couldn’t have impacted our belongings that significantly.  I felt like we had tossed out hundreds if not thousands of pounds of ‘stuff.’

I sent out emails to moving companies to collect bids.  I spoke with half a dozen who would only submit a bid after scheduling an in-person interview and inventory assessment.  (TIP:  These are the top-of-the-line movers who inevitably cost $5,000+.)  I knew our budget was pretty lean so I eliminated those time-suckers first.  Next, I looked at those who would guarantee pick-up and delivery dates.  Another few companies eliminated.  Hey!  My masterful approach is working brilliantly!

Fast-forward a week or so and I’ve decided on a company who followed-up just often enough, had an aggressive rate per pound, offered a guarantee pick-up and delivery along with all the niceties of padding, dis/assembly, etc.  Deposit paid, contract signed, book closed.

The week of our move, I received an urgent email to call the chosen movers.  They announced that the contractors they had originally assigned were NOT satisfactory and that they would be reassigning our move.  “Whatever,” I thought.  I trusted them to hire professionals.  MISTAKE #1:  Do not trust any moving company you do not meet in person.

On Friday, one day before our scheduled move, we got a phone call from the new contractor informing us that they would not be arriving on Saturday as scheduled.

I think my brain bled a little.

After an exchange with the driver, during which I had a rage black-out, it was determined that they would arrive first thing on Sunday.  This was insanely inconvenient (we had a hotel booked for Sunday evening, my daughter’s birthday celebration with family was organized for Sunday morning, our landlord expected us to have vacated by the end of the month, etc.) but not unmanageable. 

On Sunday morning, we spoke with the driver who had decided not to drive to Missouri on Saturday night, but on Sunday morning.  They would arrive at our house around noon, therefore.  When I protested, the driver had the audacity to say “Christine, I’m being nice [by telling you this].  If you want, we can keep driving to Chicago and skip your pick-up.”  It took everything in my power not to tell him to “suck it.”  We had to move.  It was too late to hire someone else.  He had us by the proverbial balls and he knew it.

So we had the birthday brunch and my husband left early to oversee the movers, help load the truck, and finish cleaning our rental.  The bub and I were to drive to Chicago and stay in the swank hotel alone so she could maintain some semblance of her sleep schedule.

The movers arrived at 2:30p on Sunday.  They presented my husband with a new contract on charges and new estimate on weight which equated to an additional $1000 in costs to us.

By 10p that evening, my hub was finished packing, cleaning, and collecting our dog from my parents.  He drove the 298 miles to Chicago in the middle of the night to be ready for the movers who again promised a morning arrival.  The move needed to be completed before the Cubs traffic reached full-frenzy.

Have you been paying attention?  Guess what time these movers arrived?  3pm.  THREE-F*&#ing-PM!

The final payment had to be completed before they would begin unloading.  The Bill of Lading from the weigh station indicated that we had an additional 2400 lbs.  This was totally suspect, in my opinion.  I have absolutely no doubt that the original weight of the truck didn’t include their equipment, dollies, blankets, wraps, packing equipment, etc.  I don’t know what else made up the difference but I know damn well that we didn’t add an additional 30% of weight to our belongings.  We lived in a shoebox… it just wasn’t POSSIBLE.  Mistake #3:  Don’t let the weight of your belongings go unverified.

We had to acquiesce the weight increase.  By my calculations, we owed one amount.  By the movers, we owed a slightly higher amount because guess what?  They hand-wrote a new cost per pound for the overage.  Mistake #4:  Don’t accept anything handwritten.  TIP:  Always have copies of all contracts in a folder that you carry on your person.

The movers eventually finished the job but put boxes randomly in rooms leaving us with total chaos.

Hub and I have spent nearly all our free time unpacking, reorganizing, and cleaning.  We’ll spend this entire weekend doing that as well.

By Sunday, we’ll have our groove back.  We’ll be able to enjoy this beautiful home that we own.  We’ll laugh and play and celebrate and entertain.  We’ll invite friends over.  We’ll make new friends.  We’ll enjoy ourselves.

If you know me at all, you know that I have already submitted a charge challenge to American Express and filed a complaint against both the Moving company and the subcontractor with the Better Business Bureau.  Even if they don’t reimburse me a dime, at least their reputations will be dinged. 

The one bright spot of this move was a tip from one of the movers himself.  He was the spacially-oriented one who constructed the packing like a jigsaw puzzle.  He was the hardest-working and the most congenial.  He took my husband aside and told him the secret to moving long-distance. 

  • Hire a truck (with a driver or drive it yourself)
  • Hire professional local movers at your origin to load your truck
  • Hire professional local movers at your destination to unload your truck.
  • Smile, Pocket the tremendous savings, and Sleep well at night.

You may laugh at me for not thinking of or knowing something so intuitively smart.  But according to this mover and everyone I’ve asked, this is not a widely known secret.  I share it with you – so that you never have an experience similar to ours – because I won’t ever be moving again.

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