Notes From The Wagon Train: Season 2 – On the Road or Moving Help Wanted, Teeth Optional

As much as I love this serialized approach, I’m having trouble with the “tune in next time” part. Last night, about 106 words in, I woke up in my wife’s recliner (because recliners are AWESOOOMMMMEEE!), with slobber on my cheek and a trail of gibberish on my screen. Chalk it up to a side effect of trying to straddle 4 time zones.

Antywayz, when I left off last time, my family was doing the stanky leg because we were getting the hell outta Florida. While these cats were doing the Nae Nae to the Jefferson’s theme song, I was descending into a panic-stricken bundles of nerves. In the week leading up to the move, this was me:

I’d lost the “let’s get Mikey to move us! Yeah Mikey likes it! He really likes it!” feeling and was deep in the “Damn, I gotta drive” dumps. Movers had my $1700 deposit, which meant I couldn’t drop another deposit on another moving company, which really meant me and U-Haul were about to be best buddies.

Godammit.

My wife, the over-enthusiastic WTF Camper comes at me like she’s Chris Hansen from To Catch A Predator. “Sit down,” she says, “sit down over here.” I sit and take a cookie (there were always cookies, right?). “I made you a reservation for the truck and the dolly so you can pull the Destructi-Car. I know you’re not happy about it but I did get you something: movers!” And she said it with jazz hands.

Movers? I thought I had movers. Wasn’t that what this whole shit was about? Isn’t that why I don’t have my deposit? Actually, she didn’t get me movers; she got me loaders. U-Haul offers Navy SEAL-caliber ex-UPS truck loaders to come to your house and pack your shit. She wasn’t confident with my pre-selected but customer service challenged moving company but we’re good with some no-names to move her Kitchen Aid mixer and Christmas tree?

Whatever.

So I’m crazy anxious, living in a cardboard box colony, and now a bunch of Craigslist rejects are coming to load my stuff. This is a Lifetime movie waiting to happen. I know we’re going to end up on Discovery ID behind this. But whatever, the one luxury I don’t have is time: my primary coping strategy was to act like nothing was going to happen. Yep, took a page out The Boy’s handbook and just kept taking calls and doing my job and working with clients like I wasn’t actually moving to the other side of the world. I only stopped working when they came and took my desk. But I’ll get there in a minute.

For me, the best defense is a good offense. I’ve gone through the 5 stages of grief and accepted that, yes I am going to drive the truck through the mountains, and, yes, it is an unlikely—but VERY real—possibility I might die. But it has to happen. So I put my best Wesley Snipes Blade impression on, say some dumb shit like “Some muthafuckas always trying to skate uphill”—by the way, what the hell does that mean and what does it actually have to do with the movie? Have you seen Blade? This is the shit he says before doing some crazy roundhouse kick to send syringes of blood exploder into a Blood God. Now that I type that out, the skating uphill shit is sane compared to that plot point. Anyway, I get my brave face on, go get the truck, and, the morning of the move, load approximately 24 boxes in 32 minutes while I wait on the movers.

Anyway, I’m the garage, me and the Boy have loaded our 24 boxes, a grey Ford Escape rolls up and 3 dudes jump out. Now I am hyper-vigilant because I don’t want to be the star of The First 48: Tampa on moving day and I don’t trust the whole “I hired people vetted by U-Haul to come move our stuff” idea. It’s 3 guys, young and strapping, and think “well, maybe” until the one who I thought was the most normal looking asks me what they should load. “Everything,” I say. “Everything?” I give him the blank stare because I’m trying to figure out where the struggle is with everything. That’s a pretty simple word I would think. And, as a moving professional, you should have a good handle on what the fuck I want to load. Let’s start with the shit in boxes and then maybe move on the furniture. How about that?

The second dude needs a helmet. And a good pair of glasses. His eyes are like two mad spouses in the bed, facing different directions. And one of those directions is wherever Skipper is. We actually had her leave so he could focus. Seriously. He doesn’t speak and I’m not certain he can.

Now the leader of this motley crew is drinking a Starbucks mocha Frapuccino (don’t say anything, I live in Seattle—I know what the drink looks like) with a straw. Remember, I’m hyper-vigilant, First 48. You ever see something out the corner of your eye and then start to pay attention to it because if you actually saw what you think you saw you know it’s going to be messed up but now you have to know if it was real? Like if you watched or happened to walk by while someone was watching Dancing With the Stars when Paul McCartney’s wife, Heather Mills, was on there and you didn’t know she had a prosthetic leg, so then you had to stop and watch because does that woman really have a fake leg? And she’s on a dancing competition? and now you have to know? OK so that shit happens to be ALL THE TIME! Here’s what I saw: most people, when they pull a straw out of their mouths, move their jaw—you gotta open your mouth the get the straw out, right? No jaw movement here. It just slid out. I caught him saying something to one of the guys and saw like a side-tooth. I don’t think my man has teeth! Since the first dude doesn’t understand what has to go and the second guy only understands blondes, and I have to know what’s happening on the tooth front, I decide to give my complex instructions to Frapuccino. I extend my hand and say, “Okay, so…” and then he smiles. And I can see clear to the back of his throat.

Jesus.

My man showed up to the party with 4 teeth. FOUR. 2 incisors on the top, a bicuspid on the bottom. Maybe a couple molars in the back. The scene was BLEAK! And there was nothing—NOTHING—in the center. He can never eat a steak or an apple. Like any food he approaches, he has to come at it from the side. Those are key teeth! Like key to everything! Girls, jobs, lunch. When he asks us to leave them a review so they can get a higher rate, I almost said, “So you can get dental?” But I kept it to myself.

I’ll say this though, teeth or no, helmet or no, they knocked it out. I’m talking about my whole house, including the shit I was sitting on, packed and on the truck in 2 ½ hours. They packed a 26-ft truck in 2 ½ hours. And when they said that load wouldn’t move, they weren’t bullshitting. 3200 miles over rivers, bridges, mountains and valleys, for 6 days, and shit didn’t budge. He might suck at flossing, but he can pack a truck.

Up Next, Why Are We Stopping Here?

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Notes From the Wagon Train: Volume 2 – The Movers That Never Were

So if you are just joining, I’m talking about our ridiculous decision to make ANOTHER move across the country. After 370 days in Florida, where we endured life on the surface of the sun, braved the swarm of rabid, flying roaches, and successfully survived the worst freaking drivers in the developed world, me and family were like:


This was all well and good until I really started thinking about the move itself. The prospect of moving my life back across the continent was giving me heart palpitations, particularly since I’d done this once with less than stellar results. Actually, it gave me nightmares—seriously. Once we settled on actually moving back to Seattle, I started having dreams where I would drive the truck off the side of a mountain and die in a fiery death. It was bad enough, I started having palm sweats and shaking hands whenever I thought about driving.

This is an actual post I made back when we were planning the move:

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 8.37.36 PM

Now I don’t generally make decisions out of fear because I don’t routinely put myself in situations where this is a thing. The scariest thing I do is the corn maze in October when we go to pick out pumpkins. Why is it scary? It’s a corn maze and I’m a black dude—I’m like 67 times more likely to get murdered in October when walking through a corn maze. Don’t let it be after dark (it never is) because my death potential goes up to like 127%–I am guaranteed to die.

We moved to Seattle in April 2007 and, by then, I had genuinely forgotten about the whole “volcanoes are real AND they’re here” thing. The last time Mount St. Helens erupted, I was 7 and the only time I’d ever heard about human beings dying from a volcanic eruption was Pompeii. It wasn’t a concern. I was, however, wholly unaware of the whole earthquakes thing. THAT is not on the brochure.

Like 2 days after I’d started my new job, I was in the office in downtown Seattle overlooking the Sound and some chunky dude in a polo shirt and a construction helmet said something about getting under your desk for the earthquake drill. Of course I didn’t pay attention to him because he was some dude in a construction helmet. It wasn’t until went to the office next door to say something to Karen—ain’t that an office-y name? Karen…sound like she think she shift lead or manager or something, huh?—that I noticed everyone was gone. And I mean Left Behind gone. Vanished.

It wasn’t until I heard that harsh whisper-yell from a cubicle, talking about “Chris! Get down!”

Me: “The fuck are you doing under your desk?”

Cubicle: “Earthquake drill! Get under your desk! Don’t you see the flashing li—“

Me: “Earthquake drill? EARTHQUAKE drill? Y’all get earthquakes here? And we’re on the 33rd floor?”

It didn’t go well. My fears about earthquakes were quickly dashed by the news that Mount Rainier, WHEN it decides to blow, will kill us all.

Anyway, if fear was a motivating factor, I would have left Seattle then, that day. But I don’t generally let fear rule my decision making.

Until we got to the move.

After the series of nightmares and day-mares and general unease, I decided that I wasn’t gonna drive shit anywhere: I was gonna hire movers. Yeah, movers.

The Wife says I gotta get 3 estimates before she will be comfortable with me hiring anybody to move our artificial Christmas tree, 4 TVs, and Marvel movie collection so I start filling out online forms. 862 moving companies respond IMMEDIATELY. I take the first call, your girls sounds decent, her price is ok and I get an estimate. The next 3 people I talk to say, “I don’t know if I can help you—the end of July is the toughest time. Can you move it?” Can I move it? What kind of shit is that? Have you ever been flexible with your moving plans? And we’re moving ACROSS THE COUNTRY. Like I’m gonna say, “Oh yeah, you know, Seattle will be there. Fuck it. What works for you?”

So I’m back to the original estimate I got and because I’m having nightmares and I have the money, I’m like “Cool! Take my money.” $1700 deposit sent. I rest easy that night.

My wife though is not like “Cool.” She’s just got enrolled in Camp WTF and she’s an enthusiastic camper. I didn’t get the 3 estimates, didn’t let her use her subscription to Consumer Reports, didn’t really discuss the whole thing. But she’s serious when it comes to her Marvel movies and her money so she does her investigative journalism and in 24 hours, she’s unearthed every single negative review in the last 3 years, and has done an interview with one of the previous customers. Seriously.

Godammit.

Now I gotta cancel the movers because the Wife is NOT gonna let some clowns she’s never met pack up her Marvel movies and Christmas tree AND overcharge her and hold her stuff hostage on the other end. Nope. That’s a negative, Ghost Rider.

I have 7 business days to cancel my move to get my refund back. I write the required email at 11:56pm with my cancellation. The next day, muthafuckin Ray from the moving company calls us up, screaming at us about “we ain’t gonna get our money back” and “you cancelled too late” and, since I sent my email at 11:56pm, he actually Googles what constitutes a business day WHILE WE’RE ON THE PHONE. My man is crazy professional.

I actually can’t pull a Blue Sky Journeys on this one cuz we’re still working on it. But this turn of events means I HAVE to drive the truck. Dammit. I gotta get my Xanax prescription refilled.

Next up, On the Road or Moving Help Wanted, Teeth Optional

 

 

Notes from the Wagon Train – Version 2

I said I wouldn’t do this shit again.

If you recall, about a year ago, I carted my monkey ass across this great nation of ours, from Seattle to Tampa. We were a caravan of a 26-foot truck, 3 kids, 2 cars and a dog. I lost my shit in the mountains, my niece lost part of her car in Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota, and my wife lost her mind in Tennessee.

Things didn’t get much better once we got to Florida.

They say “be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.” My wife wanted to see the sun. Tampa, Florida is the HOTTEST place I have ever seen. Ever. I saw children melt at the bus stop, just puddles of Nikes and backpacks. I used to wake up at 7am and the temperature would be 93 degrees. 93? At 7am? We start at 93?

Long story short, no one was happy: it was entirely too much sun for the wife (see the heat comment above) and the FLYING FUCKING ROACHES were an instant turn off. The roaches can fly. Say that slowly and realize how freaking terrifying that really is. And they are big. Like top of the food chain big. I lived in Florida for a year; I saw roaches everywhere. I saw only 3 spiders. Three. The kids weren’t any happier. Skipper loved the beach…until a flesh eating bacteria and great white sharks shut that shit down. The Honey Badger loved the continuous summer but the “socioeconomic disparities” were tough for her (read she went to school with the People from Walmart—all of them). That girl just replayed her 6th grade year. I was especially touched when the band teacher called his students “losers” (that really happened); when she recorded a full on argument students had with their social studies teacher for his refusal to teach; and when the boys on the bus wanted to beat her up for wearing her Beats—seriously. The Boy spent the entire year like this:

I’ve told you before The Boy has a hard time with reality. This cat didn’t even believe we were actually leaving Seattle until we were in Spokane. He decided then and there he wasn’t gonna make a friend, wasn’t going to smile, wasn’t going to enjoy himself EVER until he got back to Washington. And it was true! That kid made one friend—his girlfriend, the Lil Camel (more on that later).

Even the dog was mad. Do you know how hard it is to piss off a golden retriever? Have you ever seen a golden retriever? This is my dog:

Lady Smile

This is an animal that was born with a smile, that gets scared of her own farts, that really enjoys licking her own butt. The dog is easy to please. She was pissed at Florida. And then she got fleas because Florida has fleas. Like the whole state. By the time we left, she had to get muzzled just to get her nails clipped.

Anyway, the Sunshine State was a fat fucking fail for everyone involved and after 12 hot ass, sweaty, poor, Starbucks-less months, this was us:

So we left. My wife, 2 kids, the dog, Skipper and her fucking Destructi-Car, and me in a 26 ft truck.

Again.

In our next episode, we’ll talk about the Movers That Never Were, optional teeth, the Lil Camel, and why you don’t let 16-year-old unload your shit.