And the waiting begins…

Watching other people be responsible for your stuff is the hardest part of moving.

The worst part of a military move are the actual days that the movers are in our home and packing our belongings. It’s been a long time since we’ve managed a move in a single day, back in the days when my husband was lieutenant, in fact. With two almost fully grown children and a houseful of books and dishes, we rate at minimum a three day pack. What does that mean?

It means we sit and wait for the movers to show up… three days in a row. Starting at around 8am, my ears become tuned to every sound on the street. Here in DC, that’s a lot of sound. Around 9am, I start to get nervous and wonder why they haven’t yet arrived. Every minute delay means a minute longer waiting for the house to be finished and at this point, I just want this job done. It’s especially bad on the very last day and that’s the day they’re usually the latest. Driving a big truck with a load of crates through morning rush hour traffic just takes time. Not here by 9:30… we’re on the phone calling. Yes, it’s happened in the past. Lost trucks. Late starts. Bad traffic. In the meantime, we’re sucking down yet another cup of coffee we don’t need wondering where they’re at.

It means we sit and watch the movers pack… for three days in a row. Okay, so I don’t watch like a hawk. No one wants to be watched for hours on end and honestly, even though I could probably pack most of the boxes myself like a pro (11 moves will do that to you), it’s not my job to tell these guys how to do their jobs. If I see a newbie starting to pack my grandmother’s tea set… well a word to the wise, just ask the supervisor of the crew to have the more experienced of the crew get to work on the delicate stuff. There is no way you’re going to teach a new packer their job. You just end up making folks mad and, trust me, you don’t want mad packers.

It means that the days move at a glacial pace. I’ve finished the majority of my work. The house is as clean as it can be while we’re still all using the toilets and moving furniture around. The amount of dust that starts to fly will drive me crazy, but more only shows up the more things get packed. It’s amazing where the dust can hide.

I really do just wish I could jump in and help. I feel like such a slug moving slowly from room to room, checking on progress, asking if folks want some water or some coffee. What time do you want lunch? What shall we order? Boys, can you move to another room… the packers are getting ready to start in this one. That is about the extent of my day.

We’ve actually been pretty lucky in the move department. We’ve had our share of broken items. A German Shrank comes to mind, it’s top caved in from heavy boxes being placed on top it in the crates. But overall, considering how many times we’ve done this, we’ve done pretty well. Theft has been of the petty kind. My kids once lost a US Quarter Collection when leaving Alabama. I actually felt sorrier for the person who stole the quarters than I did for my kids. At least, I did after I thought about it. You have to be in pretty desperate straights to steal a quarter collection from two military kids. Other items we thought might have been stolen have shown up in the strangest places. A watch of my husband’s was lost for a full assignment until he unpacked a pair of boots he had placed in the back of the closet. The watch had been lovingly wrapped and packed inside the boot. Remember, if you move from a cold location to a warm one and don’t plan on using your winter items, check the pockets and the insides of your boots before putting them in the back of the closet. They may hold something dear.

Well… it’s getting close to that time. My ear is tuned more to the street than my eye is to the computer screen. Time to go. Wish us luck!

The infamous crates… Buenos Aires, Argentina


6 thoughts on “And the waiting begins…

  1. It actually sounds exciting to me but after 11 times..maybe not. The scene you paint puts the movie TANK in mind. Have you seen it? A sargeant major’s family that moved to Ft. Benning and lived off base. The movie starts with the movers unloading the trucks. You, being a military brat and then marrying a military man have not been exposed to the horror of packing a U Haul, begging for help, Everyone is inexperenced and the stress of horrid, everyone is exhausted and it takes about a month to even get every box unpacked and then you find dishes wrapped int everything from old tv guides to towels. Even if you are just moving down the road, it is rather scary. The move to far away places is easier. ( trust me on that one). People like to move you even paid mind you, in pick up trucks. Even with fully paid Penske or U haul trucks. They also like to smoke, drink a coke, take more breaks than an injured football player and ask every other minute, ” Is this going”?

    Good Luck…..


    • The college Angie has experience with the U-haul… I convinced a half dozen friends to help me out and I can still remember them untying the load on the back of an open bed pick-up truck, deciding that the truck wasn’t well situated, deciding to turn it around by super fast u-turn in the middle of the street and watching my dresser explode on the streets of Oakland. Yep, you’re right, moving with a company is tons easier!


  2. “I’m an excellent packer” said in the voice of Rain Man. And I am, though my husband is better. I relax and get it done while he becomes a mess of perfection anxiety. My best move ever was when the law firm paid to move us from Houston to SA and I didn’t have to load and empty a UHaul. The only bad part was my protestant sense of guilt over cost and having someone else “do my work”. And the few broken things. A small price actually since I did learn that no pre-purge is ever enough. The things we found as we unpacked! Ex: plastic bowls wrapped in 3 sheets of packing paper! Best of travels, Drake Family!


    • I love it… Protestant Guilt is exactly what it is too. I think we’re in for some exciting unpacking too. Today, for the first time ever, they actually packed some dirty laundry. I don’t think those socks are going to smell any better in five months, do you?


  3. We also had a quarter collection stolen. I could not imagine the amount of time he spent picking each one out of the folder. On the same move we had a pair of Motorola walkie-talkie’s stolen. Plastic bowls wrapped in thick paper – yep! How about heavy metal tools in the same box as dishes and an ostrich egg shell. Dirty laundry, ugh. We had one group of guys say they couldn’t pack some fireworks in the garage. “You bet, that makes sense,” we said. The next day the others guys come and wrap them up for an overseas journey. Two years later when we are nearing our exit from Germany the holding storage unit for incoming families burns down and destroys about 100 families stuff. It was not caused by us but if the standards are that lax you can imagine, right?


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