The universe is against us


OK, so now I get to tell you about our quiet, relaxing, uneventful, brief wait for our possessions to arrive so we could actually go live in the new house, instead of this 800-square-foot apartment.

Except for the tiny little detail of, they haven’t arrived yet. Yep, still waiting. Going on Day 12 now. No big blue North American Van Lines truck pulled up to the house, spewing out our stuff. I mean, it’s not anything fancy or really valuable, but it’s ours. And we kinda need it, like, really bad.

It was supposed to be here, worst-case scenario, last Friday. What’s worse than a worst-case scenario? Maybe a last-chance scenario? An apocalyptic-revelation scenario? A Laurie’s-gonna-go-off-and-kill-someone scenario?

I like that last one. It has a certain panache about it.

Excuse No. 1: The hot weather killed a few of their trucks. That put them behind schedule.

Excuse No. 2: They didn’t have any drivers available.

Excuse No. 3: They found a driver, but he got stuck in the Carolinas because it was raining really hard.

Silly me. I thought they’d actually use trucks and trailers that were closed in and could drive in the rain. But what do I know about trucking?

The Nashville moving company, a North American franchisee, said they’d asked North American to lend them a couple of drivers. And maybe a truck or two, who knows? I mean, that big blue lettering on the side should count for something. Now I know what counts for: a big fat nothing.

A friend sent a photo this morning of a North American truck rolling merrily down the highway in Nashville, with a note saying, “Here comes your stuff!” I hate him. I’ve unfriended him, deleted him, virally tweeted him, removed his cell numbers from all of my phones, excised him from my email contacts. He is dead to me.

(Not really, Wayne. Still love you.) But I really wish that had been our truck. I’m sure it was stuffed full of the beloved belongings of another family. Probably one that North American had picked up really recently, like in October of 2002.

And get this: they couldn’t fit all of our stuff onto one truck-trailer. There’s a smaller truck with the “overflow” on it, somewhere else in the universe. Several problems encircle this little snippet of information.

First of all, no one wants to hear their stuff referred to as “overflow.” Brings to mind sewage, toilets, the word “effluent.” Not good public relations. I’m just sayin’.

Second, they’re not sure just when this auxiliary shipment (now, isn’t that better?) will actually make it to Texas. They really hope we don’t need anything in that shipment right away. But, of course, the mindless dweebs can’t tell us exactly what’s IN that shipment.

Here’s how it’s gone:

Us: “So, where’s our stuff?”

North American: “Well, the big truck’s going to be there soon. Really soon. Like, probably Thursday. Or maybe Friday. Although I guess there’s a tiny little ghost of a chance that it could be three weeks from the next full moon that occurs on a Tuesday night when Saturn is separated from Venus by 2.34559 degrees.”

Us: “Oh, for crying out loud. What about the auxiliary shipment?”

NAVL: “The auxiliary shipment? Huh?”

Us: “The little truck! With the rest of our stuff!”

NAVL: “Oh! You mean the effluent-like, sewage-sounding overflow!”

Us: “Arrrgh!”

NAVL: “Well, it could be a while before it gets there.”

Us: “What do you mean, ‘a while’? ‘A while’ is what we’ve already experienced with the first load of stuff.”

NAVL: “Well, you don’t really need that overflow right away, right? It was just extra stuff from the storage shed?”

Us: “We don’t know! You reloaded the truck. What the hell did you put in the little truck?”

NAVL: “Oh, we have a list. We keep good records. Great records, in fact. We’re amazing with records. We just suck at little things like finding drivers and keeping our trucks running.”

Us: “So, what’s on the list?”

NAVL: “Well, let’s see. It looks like there’s a gravlaeux. Or maybe that’s a box of gravel? Can’t really read this. And we have a snortzelmack. Or I guess that could be a snorkel bag? Hard to say, the crayon’s smeared a bit. And there are four yellow metal thingies, and a big gray thing, and a small blue item of some sort. A couple of round red thingamabobbies. And one more thing… now, hmm, lessee, what’s that say? Uh, looks like a continent. Yes, it’s a continent! Asia, perhaps? Do you remember having us pack Asia?”

Us: “What? Asia? No!”

NAVL: “Oh, wait, that’s ‘continued.’ Oh, looky here, there’s another page right behind this one!”

Us: “Arrrrgh!”

So, the latest best educated guess from North American’s uneducated guessers is that the second truck will be here in a couple of weeks. Yes, that’s not a typo. In a COUPLE OF WEEKS. Sure hope we don’t need that snortzelmack before then.

Since we haven’t been able to stay at the new house yet, we’re still at the apartment. Which is where our latest little adventure occurred, on Sunday night. D was reviewing case files for work, since it’s the end of the month and she’s been spending a lot of time on the phone arguing with North American Van Lines and arranging final details with an arsonist named Aloyisius. Oops, I wasn’t supposed to blog about that last part.

So her mom, Madge, and I are at the park across the street, walking the dogs. I have Chase and Madge’s little white dog. Madge has her old, arthritic dog, Camus. All three are on leashes. A group of doofuses (or would that be doofi?) comes over near us and lets their dogs off of their leashes. This is a violation of the law, in addition to being just a really stupid thing to do. A couple of them start barking at our dogs, so we move away and walk across the park.

The next thing I know, I hear Madge yelling. I look up to see this muscular hunk of boxer flying across the park, straight toward Camus. Madge tries to move Camus away, but the boxer jumps up, wraps her front paws around Camus’ neck and begins to bite her. Camus, of course, tries to fight back, but this boxer is young and strong. It wasn’t a fair fight, especially since Camus was on a leash and this demon dog from hell wasn’t.

So, Madge is pulling on Camus’ leash like crazy, but the boxer won’t let go. Standing on her hind legs, the boxer starts spinning in circles, enjoying large mouthfuls of Camus’ coat as she does. The two of them were just a big vortex of snarling, growing, fur-flying madness.

(I later find out that the boxer’s name is Sally. What kind of name is that for a killer boxer? I expected something more like Mordor or Mephistopheles or Damien or Sid Vicious. “Sally”? That’s my mom’s name, for heaven’s sake.)

You know how most dog fights go on for just a few seconds, but feel endless? Well, this one went on for a good 30 seconds, and it felt like about 17 years. I had a moment of calm, rational thought right at first, which went something like, “Oh, hell, D is going to absolutely kill me if I just stand here and let her mother’s ancient dog get filleted like a catfish by this boxer.”

That was not a pleasant thought. D is incredibly stressed out right now, and there’s really just no good way to say “Hey, this wacko boxer just killed Camus.” However, this unpleasant thought was quickly eclipsed by another even more unpleasant event.

As the snarling Boxer of Death danced around and around trying to snack on Camus’ head, the two dogs I was holding both flipped out and tried to run away, too. This resulted in all three leashes becoming wrapped around me and Madge, essentially looping us together next to this frantic cyclone of fur. (Think of the picture of an atom from science class. We’re in the middle.)

I kicked the boxer as hard as I can, but it didn’t even faze it. I’m also calling out for Hell Boxer’s owner. I can’t remember exactly what I said, although I kind of recall it being something friendly, like, “Come get your #$$%^&* dog, you @##$%^%& moron.”

That’s when the boxer, in mid-spin, with her paws still wrapped around Camus’ neck, lashed out at Madge. I see the dog’s jaws close around her arm, then I see red.

No, I don’t mean I was angry. OK, I was, but I mean I really saw red. As in, blood. Everywhere. Lots o’ blood.

The boxer kept biting at Camus. I told Madge to drop leash and move back, then I grabbed the leash that’s made its way up to my neck and pull it off, but not before it’s left an 8-inch burn mark on my neck. This frees me up to deliver another kick to the boxer. (I hated doing that, but I didn’t see much choice.) The owner finally comes up and joins the melee, and we’re able to pull Sally the Slayer off.

I turn Madge’s arm over, and there’s this huge hunk gone from her left arm, just above the wrist. The gash is several inches long, nasty and jagged. Even worse, there’s a vein right there. Or, there is a vein there in other people; it was no longer there in Madge’s arm. This thing’s just spewing blood like crazy, big fat drops just pouring out.

I reach for my phone. I do not find it, being as how I am an idiot who never thinks, “I should take my phone, in case a possessed boxer attacks us in the park 200 yards from our apartment.” I yell to the crowd of dog-unleashing idiots, but they also have no phones, because they have just left the pool, where they swam, suntanned and drank copious amounts of beer.

Finally someone comes up with a phone. At this point, I’m holding three dogs, trying to help Madge keep her arm upright and calling D, who is hard at work reviewing cases and doesn’t hear it. I gently use my persuasive skills to request that the dog’s owner help us back to the apartment. (This conversation went something like, “You WILL come with us, so I can get your name and contact information, since we’ll need it at the ER, which is required to report all dog attacks. And here, hold this strange and unfamiliar thing attached to my dog, which some people call a ‘leash,’ while I try to keep D’s mother from bleeding to death. And you, sir, are also a complete and utter imbecile.”

We get to the apartment, and I have 2.3 seconds to prepare D. It goes kinda like this: “Listen. Yourmom’sbeenbittenbyadogandshe’sgonnabeOKbutthere’s” (breathe) “alotofbloodandwehavetogototheERrightnow.”

D handled this information like the trained scientist she is. OK, maybe not. She handled it like someone who’s just lost her dad and can’t believe her mom’s coming in the door covered in blood. I send her off to get Madge’s purse, a T-shirt and my car keys. I grab a dish towel from the drawer (at least I got a clean one) and tie a pressure bandage on the gaping wound, which hasn’t slowed down one iota from pumping out blood like a wildcat oil well. Then I tie a T-shirt around the dish towel and cover it in a plastic garbage bag, because my car has a cream-colored interior. I propel Madge and D out the door and we head off to the nearest ER, which is only three miles away as normal people drive, but 6.4 miles as my wacked-out GPS lady chooses to take us.

They don’t do much at the ER but soak it, because Madge has to see a wound specialist the next day. That’s because about 80% of dog bites get infected, which results in nasty followup care like three days in the hospital on IV antibiotics. We’re trying to avoid that. The wound care doc takes one look at it, and schedules her for surgery. They have to go in and clean out the bite with a little medical power-washer, which blasts the germs out at 400 psi. Hopefully, anyway. They also scrubbed it with brushes.

“Look, there’s what’s left of the vein, just lying there!” Chatty Kathy the Nurse says. Yeah, we know… that’s why the sidewalk, the hallway, the elevator, and our apartment looked like a serial killer went on a rampage. Like someone had been shot at the park, then staggered over to the apartments in a desperate attempt to get help.

The good news is, Madge came through surgery today like a trouper, and is in the living room eating ice cream as I write. Her arm is encased in a pressure bandage from the wrist up to the bicep, and is in a sling. She can’t take the bandage off until July 7, and we have to watch for infection. So far, I’ve taken her temperature 349 times and have examined the arm at the edges of the bandage 482 times. The last time I tried, she slapped me upside the head with a rolled-up magazine. She must be feeling better.

So, that’s where we are now. No stuff. Madge’s arm in pieces. The second coat of paint over the blood on the wall. The dog owner being … well, that’s a blog for another day. Please send us good ju-ju if you have any to spare. We seem to be a bit short on it here in Dallas lately. And if you happen to see a North American truck driver wandering around looking lost, please call me.

About wordsmith1313

Now: Somewhat retired, although I don't do it very well. Formerly senior director of Communications and Marketing for the Dallas Zoo. Journalist. EMT. Writer. Breast cancer survivor. I love to travel, and will always return from a trip with a new friend or two. Those fortuitous meetings bring velvet to the rough edges of life.
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4 Responses to The universe is against us

  1. Gerilynn says:

    Woah. I hate you guys are having such a HORRIBLE time in Dallas. I feel like I have some good ju-ju that I would gladly share with you. Sending you my love and kind thoughts, hopefully it helps. miss ya.

  2. Kevin Paulk says:

    Ouch! I don’t know what ju-ju is, but if I have some that’s good, it’s yours! 🙂 Y’all hang in there, and when you finally get into your home, don’t forget to talk to me about TV and phone stuff. After this mess, y’all *deserve* to save some money!

  3. Helene says:

    I cannot believe what has befallen you. I feel so bad for Madge–and you two. I’m sorta thinking this makes you pre-disastered…as in, once you get on your feet, nothing bad can come upon you any longer. Much love to you all. And I sure hope that boxer owner is gonna pay BIG–he should not walk away from this, dog and wallet intact.

  4. Sandy Smith says:

    Lesson learned: When moving to a new city, first thing: get the carry permit.

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