The final trial began early Saturday morning, two days after Thanksgiving and the day we moved in. This would be my return to New Jersey to get the last of our things. The dread was washing over me and it bothered me so much that I did my very best to keep to myself. But that’s hard when your new home is in a state of disarray and you are about to add to it with more items to clog up the works.
On Friday, I called ahead to a New Jersey local rental truck facility and practically begged them for a 14′ box truck, which we estimated would be enough to unload the storage unit we rented 3 days prior. This rental would also have to have a tow hitch so that I may tow the bike back to North Carolina. With the truck secured and arrangements made to stay at my brother-in-laws house, I went to sleep that night ready and prepared to go. So I thought.
We arrived at Myrtle Beach International Airport bright and early and without any issues, we were in the air. I put on my headphones and with great surprise, I actually fell asleep during the 90 minute flight back to Atlantic City. The plane touched down and in my groggy state I watched as we taxied to the gate and then, for some unknown reason, it hit me.
I left the key for the storage unit in North Carolina.
I aired my disbelieve with a muttered “fuck” as I stared out the window.
“What’s the matter?” April asked and Joe looked over at me.
“I left the key for the storage unit home.” I said. “I’ll call the rental place and see if they have a spare key. If they don’t, I’ll have to cut the lock off and buy a new one.” I looked at Joe and we both knew this was the beginning of crappy day.
Ginger, our other daughter, picked up April, Joe and I at the airport in Atlantic City and would drive back to where April had her car parked and then Joe, April and I would go get the rental truck and then go to the storage unit to unload it. Once on the road from the airport, I got on the phone and called the storage facility….. several times. When I finally got someone on the phone who
- Spoke English
- Was actually at the facility
- Knew what the hell I was talking about
It was determined that they did not have a spare key and I’d have to cut the old one off and leave a new lock in the unit when we left. Fine.
When we got in April’s car we headed to the U-Haul Truck rental few minutes away. Up to this point in the day, I had been unable to reach them to let them know I was on the way to pick up the truck. No answer each call. When we finally arrived at truck rental office we immediately noticed two things. 1. The store was dark and 2. There were nothing but 26-foot trucks in the yard. The door to the store was indeed locked and the hours indicated they were closed today, Saturday. Why would you take a reservation and credit card to secure the rental if you weren’t going to be open to let me take the truck? Several frantic calls later, I finally called the main U-Haul rental number and after some back and forth it was determined that the rental office in question learned that they actually DID NOT have the size truck I wanted the subsequently cancelled the reservation…… without telling me. Thankfully, the U-Haul rep on the phone was able to find me another rental truck at an open office not far away and we immediately headed there.
Fast forward 2-hours.
I stopped at my brother-in-laws to pick up my generator and then drove straight to the storage unit where I would meet Joe and April. During that time, April and Joe when to his shop to pick up a power tool with cutting wheel to cut the lock off. After I stopped the truck at the unit and got out the generator, I started it up and right away we noticed that the generator wasn’t operating at max power. It would power the tool, but not with a full 110 volts and as a result, the cutting wheel spun, but slowly. It’ll have to do and Joe set about the cutting…. it was like using a butter knife on concrete. A job that should have taken 3 minutes took 45 minutes.
With the door finally open, Joe and I began moving stuff from the unit to the 14′ box truck. Now dark and colder, we finally had the truck packed to the gills, but we still had more stuff to load in over at my brother in-laws house. And there is where we went next.. Finally at 9:30 p.m., we had everything loaded in the truck….. so I thought.
“What about the tubs in the house?” Alvin asked. Tubs? Ohhh……..
There were seven Rubbermaid plastic containers of various sizes and to lengths of shelving in his living room that needed to go. AND we also noticed my Grill was there also. I completely forgot about all of that. There was no room. I’d have to come back.
I thanked Joe and April for their help and bit them a farewell. I had this crazy idea that I was going to start the drive home that night, stop at a hotel along the way and finish the ride the next morning. Smarter people than I convinced me otherwise and I would stay locally for the night. But there was another problem…..
I didn’t have the key for the hitch-pin on the trailer.
Again, I muttered the word “fuck”…… I told my brother-in-law this and he promptly gave me a hacksaw and I cut the locked hitch-pin off. In the morning at 7 a.m., he’d drive me over to Home Depot and I’d buy a new one.
I couldn’t turn down a hot shower and a hot cup of tea. Alvin was kind enough to make me some peach pancakes and it was a welcome meal having not had anything but a bottle of Coke all day. Now fed, showered and warm, I went to bed with the intention to be at Home Depot at 7: 00 a.m. to buy a new hitch pin and lock.
I was up at 6 a.m. and Alvin was already up. We climbed in his big Mercedes 4×4 van and headed over to Home Depot. They were closed and didn’t open until 7:30. New winter hours they said. Ugh. That was our cue to head over to Dunkin Donuts to get some breakfast. With two hot coffee’s and breakfast sandwiches to go, we drove back over to Home Depot and waited for the doors to open. As soon as I saw the doors slide open at a couple minutes after 7, I was out of the truck and through the doors. 5 minutes later I emerged from the store with a new lock and hitch pin.
Back at Alvin’s house, I backed the 14-foot box truck into his drive way and hooked up the trailer with my Harley on it. I shook Alvin’s hand and thanked him for his hospitality and drove off with my bike trailer in tow. First stop was the new Wawa gas station less than a 1/2 mile away, where I would fill up, make a fresh cup of hot tea, buy a snack and set the GPS for the trip down to North Carolina. 30 minutes later, I was on the highway headed towards I-95 that would carry me south to my new home.
The truck was a pig, unlike the whale I drove the first time. It was comfortable, but loud and had the performance of a 20 year old Honda Civic with a pallet of bricks in the trunk. Despite that, it was able to keep up with the flow of traffic…. unless if the road turned up ever so slightly. I couldn’t see the trailer in the rear view unless I adjusted the mirrors so they pointed in slightly and even then I could only catch a glimpse of the wheels. I would stop from time to time to check on the trailer, the bike and the tie-downs.
Forward progress wasn’t super fast but it was consistent and all seemed well…. that is until I got to the other side of the Delaware River and actually on the true I-95, then traffic slowed and it became a “slinky” ride. Fast and slow and fast and slow and stop and go and stop and go. Eventually I pulled off at the Maryland House rest area once I passed through Delaware for a bathroom break and some more tea. The place was mobbed and there wasn’t going to be any tea or coffee from the Dunkin Donuts inside. Back on the road.
From there things only got worse. The intended 10 hour drive was not going to be 10 hours I resigned myself to and forged ahead. After passing Baltimore, Washington DC and Alexandria, I thought my troubles were over and the road would open up.
After a stop for getting gas, I decided to try and take an ulterior route such as a county highway or secondary route just to get past the backup which, according to the Waze App, extended for over 12 miles. Much to my dissatisfaction, the alternate route was no better, in fact, it was worse. It was so bad that I finally decided that the traffic on I-95 was better and after 1 hour finally found a route that led me back the originally intended southbound route.
By the time I reached the I-95/I-295 split, the traffic jam vanished. As if there was never anything wrong to start with, I was soon doing 70 mph and making time but not outrunning the darkness. My last stop before getting off of the interstate would have me stopping for gas and parking for a slice of North Carolina pizza, which wasn’t too bad actually. With my stomach satisfied, I got back on the road and soon I was on I-40 headed southeast towards route 17 to my home.
After 15 hours and 35 minutes, again, I pulled in my driveway, exhausted, parched, fatigued and just plain done. I wanted a bed, I wanted a shower, I wanted to sit and have a cup of tea in a chair that wasn’t moving. I wanted to be done. But I still had a truck to unload the next day and return.
It all got done and the truck got returned and now 3-months since the move I am sort of glad we ended up doing it the way we did. Knowing what I know now, I spread advice to would be movers with a home full of stuff and people.
It’s not so bad if you are moving from one house to another in-State, but as soon as you add that Out-of-State element, it all goes to hell. All of the logistics changes, the mood changes, the rules change, the numbers change and your expectations fly out the window with the cigarette butt. The situation changes daily and uncontrollable events take place that you have no preparation for. But prepare you can.
Here for you are my lessons for moving across state lines.
- If it’s been in your attic or basement for years, you likely don’t need it. Time to weed out the herd and throw things away or give them away.
- Sell and throw out what you don’t need or what you can easily replace new in your new home town.
- Thin out what you have to pack. Sell furniture except for something to sit on and eat off of. Buy new stuff in your new home town.
- Don’t hire a mover. Moving companies are scams and they will rape you and your bank account.
- If you don’t want to move yourself, consider getting PODS moving containers and always ask for exclusive delivery, Door to Door. If you do not, it will go to their warehouse and sit there until they have a truck going in your direction.
- Rent your own moving truck as big as you can handle and get everything in it. If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it.
- Rent a storage facility near your new home and make periodic trips there with a loaded truck or SUV with items from your old house for your new house. This way it is less to move on moving day.
- When it is time to load the truck, hire professional movers to pack the truck. It makes a difference, these guys know what their doing. Make sure it is at least a crew of three or four.
- Call all of the facilities suppliers for your new home a week prior and set up appointments for gas, water, electric and internet installations.
- Make sure you have done your change of address with the USPS and everyone else a month prior to the move including any bills you may have and subscriptions.
- Keep your existing Cell number. No need to change it since the 40,000 people in your contact list already have it.
- For moving day, pack an overnight bag with at least 3 to 4 days of clothing and keep a pair of work boots or work sneakers available at all times. Pack everything else.
- Keep all valuables (jewelry, electronics, computers, laptops, tablets, musical instruments and anything extra fragile) in your own company. That is to say that you move it with you. This way only you are to blame should it get broken.
- Breath, take breaks, slow down, make a plan, but don’t demand that you stick to it, you won’t be able to. Work in the moment, not in what still has to be done. Focus on the now. And although you may not think it possible, have some fun during the whole process. Lastly…… Take your time.
- Ask your employer for a couple more days of than you think you’ll need. Although I moved over the week of thanksgiving and had an automatic 4-days off, I still asked for an additional 2-days and I’m glad I did.
- When you arrive at your new home, take a deep breath and let it out and send the stress with it. You are done.
Time now to return to living somewhat normally.