We woke up at 5:45, sore and exhausted but ready. This was it: the day we moved to a new city for Lovey to start his new job! We ate cold pizza for breakfast, carried the few remaining boxes to our car and moving truck, and drove away from the place formerly known as home.
This was the plan: leave the car behind. Drive the truck to the new place (seen here). Meet Nate and Janene at the new place; get their help unloading the truck; buy them lunch. Part ways so Lovey and I can drive the truck back to the rental location where we picked it up, saving us $165, as opposed to dropping off the truck in our new location. (Lovey drops me off at the old apartment where I get in the car, drive it to the rental drop-off, and meet Lovey, who has by then dropped off the truck.) Drive the car back to our new home, accompanied by singing bluebirds and flitting butterflies.
Here’s what actually happened:
Yep, the moving truck broke down. We were happily driving along when, 45 minutes into our two-hour trek, the accelerator failed to have any effect on our speed. Lovey steered to the shoulder and coasted as far as he could. It was a pretty view….
…but this “built-in value” slogan started to ring a wee bit ironic.
I found this on the back bumper of the truck, caught in a little metal part. Random, but temporarily distracting, which was a relief considering that we had to sit there for an estimated 90 minutes before help would arrive.
I was starting to worry that 90 was just a euphemism for “whenever we feel like it,” but we had only counted four semis by the time a tow truck pulled up behind us. First he tried a couple things—don’t ask me what they were because I don’t know, but they included looking under the hood, looking confused, and looking under the truck. After that, the mechanic, whose name was Earl, hopped back into his own truck and pulled around in front of our truck to tow it.
He took us to his garage, which was farther away from our destination than the apartment where we started our journey. I felt like a kid close to winning a game of CandyLand but then drawing the card that makes you go back to the start.
But Earl was great. He chatted, telling us funny stories and intriguing facts about the area where we’d been living for the last several years. He loaned us a vehicle so we could go get some lunch, which we happily bought at a rural bakery.
She looked at us without answering for a few seconds, then said, “Well…they’re sixty-five cents apiece, so half a dozen would be…”
We tried to help her but we were both so tired that neither of us could come up with an answer either!
“A dozen is $6.49,” she offered, and we abandoned our mental math to agree, “Let’s do that!”
*I’m not being mean; she was really old! Also, the answer to the math problem is $3.90, in case you cared.
We’d only been finished with lunch for a few minutes when Earl called to say he had fixed the UHaul’s fuel pump and we were once again road-worthy. Happy to still be more-or-less on track to finish our day at a decent time, we hopped in the truck and set out. This time we made it to within 50 miles of our destination before breaking down again.
Yes. Again. See Lovey’s face? That is the “this is not funny anymore” face. The “I’ve been a good sport until now” face. The “maybe this is not a good time to mess with me” face. Did I mention the poor guy has bronchitis? That he barely slept the night before because he spent so much time coughing himself (and me) awake?
We tried to look on the bright side—more pretty countryside to gaze at! It’s not raining! The temperature is great!
But ultimately the facts were the facts. We were stranded on the interstate for the second time that day. We were six hours into a two hour trip. We had to wait another 90 minutes for help. They sent the same help. Apparently UHaul uses contracted mechanics and they only had one in our whole region who would come out on the weekend.
This time it was Ray who came to our rescue, and much to our relief he just pulled up in front of us to tow us. Forget checking the this and the that; he knew we just needed to get where we were going. On the plus side, we saved quite a bit of gas money. On the negative side, it took us ten hours to cover a distance that, as I mentioned before, we could have normally covered in two.
And it gets
worse better. After a five-hundred-point turn to get the tow truck/moving truck monster backed into a driveway from a two-lane street lined with parked cars, Ray called his boss to say we’d arrived. And his boss said something along the lines of, “Great. Now get that truck unloaded and bring it back to me so I can fix it.”
So instead of having a full day to unload it, as UHaul had promised us, we had as little time as possible. Ray helped. Nate and Janene, miracle of miracles, had waited all day for us and they helped. Their friend Jonie was also there and she helped. We’d met a couple times but she didn’t even really know us. So, after a day of curses, we did have some blessings. And of course we bought them dinner. (Well, not Ray; he had to race back.)
When the crazy died down I called my friend Beth, who wanted to hear from me when we arrived. She listened to my tale of woe with a sympathetic ear and some opinions regarding what UHaul should do to make it up to us after charging us for a bum truck. As we said goodbye, she told me to let her know when things started getting better.
Accordingly, I have to mention the breakfast we ate on Sunday. My dad drove up Saturday afternoon when he heard what an ordeal our move had become. All evening he helped me move boxes upstairs. The next day when we woke up he was gone, but he came back loaded down with treasure that included dairy-fresh milk, just-made pastries, and fruit. Lovey and I hadn’t eaten fruit in a week. Appalling but true. This meal was the best thing we had experienced all weekend.
Then Dad stayed to help me clean. Let me give you some idea of what that meant. The previous renter had a contraband dog that peed and shed on…oh, let’s conservatively say everything. The renter herself didn’t seem to treat the place much better. You’ll get bored if I list all the things that needed cleaning, and you’ll get grossed out if I list all the things that were soiling them, so let me offer a couple illustrations of what we were up against: the bathtub/tile wall took most of a can of Scrubbing Bubbles to get the scum off; the cement floor in the basement had to be mopped with bleach; the kitchen cupboards were too scary to put dishes into. You get the picture, right?
Sunday night Dad headed home. Lovey and I walked around our neighborhood and stopped for treats.
We went to bed early and in the morning he went off to his big-boy job. That was the moment when this all started to feel real. We are really starting our life in this new city. This is really the house we are going to call home. It’s weird to me that after all the real we went through just getting here, those hours of misery didn’t hit me quite the same way as those few seconds when Lovey was slipping out the door in his dress clothes, not going to a wedding (pretty much the only other time he dresses up).
I stayed behind and tried harder to make this place feel like home. Here’s what helped:
~Friends gave me sweet little house-warming gifts before we left; this plant (which I promise to move to a sunnier spot!) and this candle were two of those gifts, and set in the old telephone alcove they created a cozy vignette that made me smile each time I passed by during my morning of box-shuffling.
~Baking bread is one of my homemaking rituals. No kitchen feels like mine until I’ve baked in it. Another benefit of bread-baking is that it permeates the house with an embracing aroma that is nothing like the smell of dog pee. That’s what I’m shooting for here.
~The cupboards, the counters, and the sink are clean! (The stove/oven and microwave were fine, from which I infer that the previous renter didn’t do much cooking.) My little spots of color are entering the space as I find my décor boxes.
I’m about to go outside and plant some flower seeds my dad bought at the grocery store the morning of The Wondrous Breakfast. I still feel like I have “miles to go before I sleep,” but things are getting better. Definitely better.