This weekend began and ended the short journey from Secane where I’ve lived most of my life to Swarthmore. To be upfront I know moving is hard but it should have never been like this.
It started badly from the very beginning. My friend Bill arrived on time to help me at 8 a.m. the same time the movers were to arrive. The movers did not show up until 10:30 they were two and a half hours late. But wait let’s backtrack.
The trouble started with the initial phone call. I was hiring this moving company, one I had used before, both to move me and pack for me. The main area of packing was to be my books. I told the person doing the intake what I had to move and I specifically stated that I had seven bookshelves filled with books. When the packers arrived they had nowhere near the number of boxes they needed for my books. They called for more but it took about forty-five minutes for those boxes to arrive. In the meantime, they put my books in boxes too large for them. More on that later.
Bill, who was devoting his day to me, only had until 4 p.m. to help me. It was generous of him to give me eight hours. With the movers being two and a half hours late that made the time that really needed him on the sight of my new home that much shorter. The loading of the ruck was uneventful it was the unloading that there were major issues.
My feet and my legs are very weak. And quickly became painful when I am standing or sitting up. Right now, my left foot which was injured in April is throbbing as I write. This meant I knew I had to be very specific with the boxes as they were packed so that they would end up in the room they were destined for. So every box was labeled accordingly. I planned to sit near the door have the movers read me what was on the boxes and then let them be placed in the right rooms. I even labeled the books as to which shelf they were to go. This should have been easy and clean cut. It became chaos.
The movers were bringing four boxes in at a time. They barely read the boxes and when they did only the box that was on top. Some boxes that were clearly marked, they asked “where does this box marked bathroom go?” I told them which bathroom to put it in but it ended up in the far corner of the office.
At one point I noticed a gouge in a triangular shape outside the apartment door, in the wall that had just been freshly painted. I asked the mover if he did that and he admitted it to me. I then asked if he was going to report it and he said he would when they checked out at the end. I was there when they called the supervisor and the damage was not reported. I knew I was going to have to report it myself
Bill was doing all he could to help me. But he ended up helping them by running up and down five flights of stairs with some of the lighter things. It was during this time that he notices something strange. One of the movers kept disappearing. I thought the guy was unloading the truck but it seems that was not the case. More on this later.
Between the bedroom and office furniture as well as the boxes I became more and more confused. The one thing I did get out was where to place my bed and dresser. I was in the room when the dresser was placed, I was not there when the bed was placed. I had shown the mover where the bed was to go and it was made doubly clear by where the nightstand and lamp were placed. When I finally got the chance to look in the bedroom the bed was in the wrong spot. Not at all being able to move the bed I had to move the nightstand and find a way to power the lamp as there are no outlets on that wall.
I felt things were moving awfully slow. I blamed it on the elevator. It took less than two hours to pack the truck and four and half hours to unpack it. Bill, as I said earlier, had to leave at four but he felt bad going. I started to tear up. Towards five o’clock I heard an argument between the two movers taking place outside the apartment in the hallway. The one was telling the other that he had to stop and pray. The other one said that he shouldn’t stop now as there was still a lot to do. The first one said that it was past dusk and he had to stop. The other guy came into my apartment and I asked what was going and he said, “that the guy had gone to pray and it had been happening throughout the day. That explained the disappearances.
Eventually, it ended and I was left alone. I first went and looked in the office and almost every box was packed in the office. I couldn’t move any of them. Then I looked in the bedroom and saw the bed in the wrong place. Then I looked at the box in the bathroom, which I thought was the bathroom box it turned out to be a box of linen. It was then that I lost it. I called my sister and was talking to my brother in law, I started to cry uncontrollably because I couldn’t do a thing by myself to straighten the mess out. My sister and brother-in-law live in Tennessee and he couldn’t help me. In my mind, there was no one to help me. I couldn’t begin to figure a way out of this mess. I sobbed hard tears and cried out to God to send someone to help. Then as God does on occasion I heard a still small voice say, “call Rob.”
Now Rob had been my wingman on packing day making sure the boxes got labeled correctly in one room while I was in another. Rob is the leader of the Christian men’s fellowship that I was an active member of before Covid. I hadn’t been back to the group but Rob and I stayed in touch.
It was a short call. Rob said he would round up a couple of guys from the group and they would be over the next night. Then the still small voice came again and said, “Call John.” My cousin John had given me the past three Tuesday mornings to help me move in. He was great to me and had told me if I need him again to just call. So I did. John promised he would come over on Monday morning.
From then on I just did what I could. Which wasn’t much. When I woke up the next morning I was determined to go to church but realized the bathroom supplies were in no box that I could even see. So I had no soap or shampoo or toothpaste. Somehow my little men’s traveling shaving kit was where I could get to it. I had my razer, a toothbrush, and a travel-size bottle of Pert, so I made do. I shaved, brushed my teeth with no toothpaste, and washed my hair and my body with Pert Shampoo and Conditioner, in the long run, soap of any kind is still soap.
I went to church, unpacked some small boxes that I could handle, and at 5:00 Jerry, one of the first men to come from the men’s fellowship, arrived. He quickly got to work by tackling the wardrobe boxes. These were four huge boxes filled with my clothes and coats. They had been placed in front of my closet so I thought I could empty them myself but they were all placed backward with the side that you open the box on facing my windows. These boxes have a rack inside of them. Had they been facing the right direction, I would have opened a panel on the box and taken the clothes, still on their hangers, and placed them in the closet. It should have been easy but I couldn’t swing the box around. I tried opening one box on the opposite side and the whole rack collapsed. I couldn’t pick the clothes up at all. Jerry, moving like the wind, had all four boxes unpacked and all the clothes in the right closets in half an hour.
At 5:30 Rob and Travis, my other volunteer arrived. Quickly the three of them had all the boxes in the right rooms. It was at the ned that I found my bathroom box in the far corner of the room sitting all alone. I thought that was going to be it. I was wrong. Though Jerry had to leave, Travis and Rob stayed and they unpacked and filled 5 of the seven bookcases. I struggled not to cry at the ned. These men gave me their time and their energy. They were good company too talking while they worked and I directed. They were happy to help. It was a blessing given to me by them through the grace of God.
I felt like a tone of weight was off my shoulders. Because the boxes were in the right places I stayed up until two a.m. emptying boxes and putting stuff away. 6 a.m. I was shocked when my alarm went off but I knew John was coming and I shook off the cobwebs. At 8:30 John and much to my surprise and delight, his brother Nick showed up. They made quick work of the rest of the books and helped me with some other stuff. Again another blessing. When John and Nick left I had a home. There were still boxes to unpack and stuff to put away and pictures to be hung but that could be done over time.
I got a call that day from the moving company asking for an evaluation of how things went. I held back nothing. The information I relayed was sent up the chain and I got a call today from an administrative person. He listened to the whole story and told me that he would get in touch with the building about the wall repair and I would hear back from him later today about what they would do for me. So far I have heard nothing and the workday is winding down. I fear I will be disappointed again.
I have been told that moving is one of the most stressful things anyone ever does. I never felt that way before but that turned out to be true this time. However, every black cloud has a silver lining and my silver lining is all the people who reached out to help me, the people who took time to listen to me and to support me emotionally. These people are the stars of this show. It is my prayer that God blesses all of those who helped me and it is also my prayer that each of you, when you hit any snag in life, that there will be good people around to help you. Jesus said, “What you did for the least of these you did for me.”