It’s a scene you’ve seen in movies or television. Some dude or woman is sitting on a chair, waiting for hellfire to descend. A bunch of people are going to race in the door and blow his head off. Maybe there’s a bomb that’s going to go off. He or she knows it’s going to happen. He or she may have a gun in his hand, but there is no doubt that the inevitable may only be stalled ever so slightly, if that. Maybe there’s a cigarette, for a last moment of peace.
I felt that way on Thursday morning when the movers were coming over. The whole house was about to experience an earthquake as they descended upon the house, put everything in boxes, and left us with nothing but a place that needed to be cleaned at that house and a bunch of boxes at the new one.
That was what I was expecting, anyway. What I got was altogether different. There was, apparently, a series of miscommunications.
I thought that when they said that they would pack, for example, that they would take just about everything and put it in a box. That’s what the previous movers did. There are some jokes that movies will individually wrap cigarette butts, if they’re paid by the hour.
Instead, what appeared to be the case was that they would not pick anything up off the floor. Now, some of this may be our fault. We had no idea how much stuff was hiding behind and under the sofa. So even though we had cleared the floors, when they moved the sofa there was more on the floor. Which they wouldn’t pick up and put in boxes, no matter how obviously it wasn’t trash. More to the point, though, they wouldn’t pick up anything they dropped onto the floor. So the bicycle helmet that was on the hat rack fell on the floor and was left there. But even more to the point, they wouldn’t pick up things off the floor that they left there. So they don’t transport light bulbs, so they take off the lampshade, put it on the floor to disassemble the light, and then when they eventually leave we have ten lampshades sitting on the floor.
They also won’t pack anything that they don’t have appropriate packing material for. When they said early on that they were light on packing material, I thought that it meant that they would need to get more. There might be a delay. Or worst-case, they would come tomorrow and pack the rest. Instead, they meant that when they ran out of packing material, they were done. We could pack the rest ourselves and they would ship it, but wouldn’t be responsible for the packing (if plates broke).
They ran out of kitchen packing material when they were a little over halfway done. They ran out of wardrobe packing material when they had taken care of one of the three wardrobe closets. They also couldn’t take pictures off the wall, so those were left.
Another miscommunication was the “We don’t take liquids” rule. I thought that meant “We don’t take liquids.” In fact, it meant, “We don’t take liquids, we won’t move liquids in order to take the shelves the liquids are on, and we won’t take anything sitting on shelves with liquids on them.” Or, in cases like the bathroom, where there are just too many liquids, they decided not to take anything.
In fact, despite packing being advertised as a part of the deal, they actually did a remarkable job of avoiding packing much of anything. A whole lot of stuff was already boxed up because we’d never unboxed them from our previous move. They took that (though they didn’t label which room it came from, even though we supplied a 1:1 mapping of which room in the old house went to which room in the new house). They didn’t disassemble much of anything, which was fine with us because our last movers – however good they look in hindsight – tore apart an irreplaceable workbench instead of properly disassembling it, so that didn’t go in boxes.
Which is just as well, because they didn’t have enough boxes anyway.
We complained. Management defended some of it (the floors), gave excuses for some of it (packaging material), lodged a few complaints of his own (the layout of our driveway), and offered to send the crew back at a later point to finish the job. Clancy initially wanted them to do it, while I was fine with moving the rest ourselves. Eventually we decided on the latter course, mostly because we felt like once we had everything in such a state that they would pack everything, we would practically be packed outselves.
In a way, it sort of worked out. They were paid hourly, so the overall bill was significantly less than we had expected and on the estimate. They also cleared enough so that we could more easily take care of the rest. The “clutter” that was the reason the manager gave for most everything was a product of too much stuff and not enough house, which is why we are moving to begin with. The big inconvenience here was simply that we were not expecting to spend three days moving everything after the movers had left.
I was going to include some pictures of what they left behind, but as a product of the fact that we’re further behind on our move than I had planned, I only have the one I uploaded to Twitter.
You may notice a laptop sitting on the kitchen cabinet. That was originally in the living room on the TV stand (it has a broken monitor, so serves as a media PC on the television). They actually put that there because they weren’t comfortable moving it. Other items, such as the pan, were in the cabinets when they arrived but were moved to be packed before they ran out of material.