Stuff, it’s just stuff


I’ve never been so happy to see a sweaty guy as I was this morning. There it was, at long last, our dearly departed stuff, in a big blue truck.

I wasn’t going to get too excited until I actually saw the rig. Last night I almost got a smidge excited, but then I remembered that there was still time for the truck to blow six tires, throw a rod or become the lead story on the Texarkana news. “Moving truck catches fire, explodes” came to mind, with a deck head: “Fire so hot road melts; nothing left but tiny wisps of smoke.”

So when Jeremy the Truck Driver pulled up today, he looked a bit haggard. Turns out — no lie — that he indeed blew two tires last night, and didn’t finish getting them replaced until 4 a.m. He slept for two hours, then got back on the road. He must read my blog and realize that no jury of our peers would convict us if we blew up Ellis Moving Co. and all of its big, blue, broken-down trucks.

(We knew we wouldn’t accidentally kill any drivers if we blew it up, since they don’t seem to have any.)

As we stood there chatting with Jeremy, I saw dark brown goo drip, drip, dripping out of the center of one of the tire rims. Oops. It was axle grease, leaking right out. (Seriously, even I couldn’t make this stuff up.) The tire next to it was kind of folded over a little onto itself, looking like a red blood cell, except black. Turns out those two tires were the new ones. Heaven knows what kind of shape the other 16 were in. I was afraid to look.

I have no earthly idea how our stuff actually got here, given this company’s decrepit vehicles and complete lack of business acumen.

But it did! Some stuff even multiplied. Like my ceramic hose-hider that I bought in Mexico many years ago and have hauled all over America. It went from one piece to about 16 pieces. I’m banking on the fact that since Texas is really close to Mexico, I’ll be able to find another one.

Generally, though, there was remarkably little collateral damage. Little nicks in wood, a small tear in our sofa. They say that three moves equals one fire, as far as destroying stuff. I’ve moved so many times now, and carted some of the same stuff through each one, that I was happy to have things come out as well as they did.

I’d been worried for a while that our refrigerator wouldn’t fit in its hole. It just looked little, and there were small and subtle clues that the previous owners’ fridge had trouble fitting. Like, the big chunk of tile they’d chipped out of the floor, and the piece of baseboard they’d hacked out, and the plaster they had lovingly scraped away. And our fridge is bigger than theirs was. Worry, worry, worry.

I’m happy to report that it’s now safely ensconced in its little space. It was a big snug, but we were able to tuck it right in with the help of three moving guys, a bottle of Crisco, a block and tackle, two pulleys and a stick of dynamite. And I was able to clean off the dog hair from the coils before we did that, so I’m sure it will run much more efficiently now. I think it’s just a baseless rumor that refrigerators actually need space around them in order to function. That’s just less air it has to cool, right?

Then there was the Case of the Missing Bed Screws. On one of our guest beds (you’re invited! c’mon down!), eight screws mysteriously disappeared from the wooden bed rails. I’m figuring that these screws were probably superfluous bits of hardware added by the furniture stores just to jack up the price, and really aren’t needed. They allegedly connected the little metal pieces in the rails to the headboard and footboard, but again, probably just a rumor. If you come to visit, you might want to stay in the other room.

(D doesn’t know about that little detail, so let’s not tell her. She doesn’t know about it because — and I know you will be shocked, absolutely shocked, by this — she had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and had to disappear for a while. This is the sixth time she’s disappeared during a move in the past 12 years. I guess that’s not too bad, since we’ve only moved six times.)

Our back yard here is a little smaller than our Nashville yard. (Picture Rhode Island on a map. That’s here. Then picture the entire landmass of South America. That was there.) However, for some reason, it made sense to us to move our outdoor dining table, four lounge chairs, two outdoor end tables, a deck box full of crap, 73 flower pots, one hissing pool float, and two rusting metal flowers we bought at an art show three years ago. Oh, and a wheelbarrow, two gas cans, three shovels, four fishing poles and a partridge in a pear tree.

We also moved our mower, even though D has drawn the line at mowing when it’s over 70 degrees outside. In Texas, that appears to be the period of time each year between Jan. 4-Dec. 29. I’m sure she’ll mow a lot during those other six days, though.

Regardless, I don’t think it will be a problem. Our yard is so small that we’ll just have to crank the mower up, lock one wheel and spin it in a circle. Presto, we’re through mowing.

The movers did get my desk set up in the office. Since we both have jobs at real offices, there’s no big rush to get this room unpacked. That means instead of finishing it all tonight, I will be able to talk myself into putting it off until 6:07 p.m. tomorrow. So it became the repository for all obscurely labeled boxes.

You may be asking yourself why any boxes would be obscurely labeled. I, too, ponder this existential puzzle. As unexplained questions go, it’s right up there with string theory.

Somehow, we wound up with about four-fifths of the 18-wheeler loaded into that room. I’m pretty sure the desk is still in there, although I haven’t seen it since about 3 p.m. and cannot swear definitively that it remains in the room. I can, however, attest that my lovely writing sanctuary now harbors 873 unmarked boxes, one large carton cryptically marked “Srfsts,” and a big wardrobe box bearing the most frightening word known to man since OCD was discovered: “Miscellaneous.”

This wardrobe box was a lovely rectangle in its previous life, but six of its eight nice, sharp corners have now been crushed until it resembles a large, brown egg pod from an intergalactic race of space aliens. I hope “Miscellaneous” is one tough cookie.

If not, it will be kept company by the tiny boxes of delicate glassware marked “Fragile! Fragile! Fragile!” These formed a lovely soft cushion upon which the barbells, steel safe and large dirt-filled planters could ride.

Sometime this afternoon, as our movers unloaded and we argued about where our three boxes of fleece jackets would go, our DirecTV installer appeared. It seems that I’d forgotten to move the appointment. Well, I moved it the first four times that North American delayed our delivery date, but somehow it slipped past me this time. We had a lovely conversation, Marco and I.

Me: “Uh… Hi! Look, our movers were delayed, and are just now unloading our stuff! Ha ha ha.”

Marco: “But I’m here to hook up your TV.”

Me: “Great! We have a TV. Somewhere. Hey, mover guys, where is the TV?”

Mover Guys: “We dunno.”

Marco: “Maybe you should reschedule.”

Me: “No, no, no! ‘True Blood’ started three weeks ago and we haven’t seen any of them yet! Stay! You have to stay! Can’t you hook up everything else but the TV until we get it off the truck? Please? Pleeeeease?”

Marco: “There is nothing else. I’m here to hook up the TV, and there is no TV. I see this as a problem.”

He turned toward his van to leave, but we then managed to come to an understanding. This was effected by skillful negotiating, and perhaps also was influenced when I broke down sobbing, clutched his left ankle and forced him to drag my limp body toward the curb in a one-legged lurch.

Just then, the pizza I’d ordered for the mover boys arrived. (Jeremy had hired two local men to help him unload the truck.) Louis and Angel were really hard workers, taking no breaks and hustling like crazy. They deserved pizza! So they began to reach for the box… but I really needed the TV.

Me: “Hey, guys, how about we hold off on lunch until we find that silly TV? OK? That work for you? It’s probably right there in the next little part of the truck, anyway!”

Angel and Louis: “Uh, we’re really pretty hungry.”

Me: “Yes, I know! Me, too! Pizza! Fresh, hot pizza! Right after we find the TV!”

I thought it was a perfectly reasonable compromise… I got what I wanted, and I got what I wanted.

The guys kept digging out boxes and furniture, seeking the elusive TV. They began to flag a bit after the second hour. Several times I was forced to tie a piece of pizza to a fishing pole, gently lowering it in front of them.

The TV finally was found, a mere five hours later. Marco was able to hook it up, the guys were able to enjoy their congealed pizza, and I’ll be able to watch True Blood this weekend.

They finally finished unloading about 5:30 p.m. I was hot, tired and perhaps a tiny bit cranky. As the truck drove away, D suddenly reappeared. It was like magic. What great timing!

“Hey, what great timing! You can help me unload these few boxes,” I said, pointing to an Everest-sized pile. Suddenly, D realized that she needed to go let the dogs out, since it’s hard for her mom to do it with her surgically-repaired arm still not well. Off she goes.

I decided to put our water and sodas into the fridge, which was merrily humming along from its cozy little nook. I opened the door, only to be confronted by a large, growly ball of black-and-green fuzz. It had red demon eyes and big fangs, greatly resembling a boxer I know named Sally.

It appears that refrigerators aren’t really meant to be closed up in a hot moving truck for two weeks, because they apparently become large, double-doored petri dishes. The small box of baking soda had fought the good fight but ultimately was overwhelmed, much like the Persians at Thermopylae. The black fuzz had won. Ewww.

As a germophobe, I knew what I had to do. Dinner? No! Rest? No! Ice-cold alcoholic beverage? No! It was all-out war on the fuzz.

First I used the power-washer. Then I got out the Dremel, with the sandpaper wheel. Zzzzrrrrr! Zzzzrrrr! Nice. Next I ran over to the hospital and got a barrel of Decon Green hazmat foam we use for mass contaminations by toxic gases, applying it liberally to the inside of the fridge with a large paintbrush. Then I lathered, rinsed and repeated. I was able to find a hammer and chisel in the garage, and after that, I spritzed it with Lysol.

It took a while, but I got that fridge sparkling. Laurie 1, black fuzz 0.

And, really, I guess every refrigerator should be taken apart and cleaned every four years, whether it needs it or not.

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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