Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 150 - Welcome to Paradise. That Will Be $232.59.

          After three full days of backbreaking work and jostling my kidneys until I piss blood, I have my stuff spread out all over the state of Florida. My wife, my dog, and I are installed in my father-in-law’s house on Florida’s Treasure Coast. I've had a day of rest. I can't say we're comfortable, but it's good at least to have it over.
          Saturday was the worst. I started Saturday with a crick in my back from sleeping on the floor in our old empty house. We packed up our few remaining things, the stuff we’d used to clean up the house and take care of our personal hygiene, and headed across the state, once again, to the storage unit. Our two sons met us there again, and our daughter came also with her two strapping teenagers. We made pretty short work of unloading the last of the things for storage, and had a little visit in the back of the truck over hamburgers.
          The burger was tasty, but not tasty enough to make up for the fact that it pulled half of my dental bridge out of my mouth. Now I have a big gap-tooth grin that makes me look, finally, like what I have become—a down-on-my-luck, unemployed, near homeless loser. When I flashed that grin for my daughter, she covered her own mouth and exclaimed, “Oh my God!” Somehow that little thing made my plight seem that much more immediate and dire. Not her fault. I looked in the mirror when I got back in the truck. The transformation in my appearance between having teeth and not having teeth is scary.  
          We pulled into my father-in-law’s driveway Saturday night with about 45 minutes left on the clock to get the truck back to U-Haul before they closed. My wife’s sister had already talked us into canceling the crew we had arranged for to unload the truck. She thought that between three sisters, my wife and the two that were already waiting for us at Nelson’s, and their three husbands we could unload the truck ourselves and save a couple of hundred dollars. She wasn’t reckoning on the several hundred extra dollars I was going to have to pay for turning the truck in a day late.
We actually got the truck unloaded in about 20 minutes, owing principally to my brother-in-law, Rich, who is younger than I and full of boundless energy to the point of annoyance. What I mean to say is that he annoyed me until I agreed to try to get the truck unloaded and returned to U-Haul by the 7:30 p.m. deadline in spite of the fact that I was bone weary and would have been happy to pay for another day’s rental just to be able to lie down and close my eyes. Of course before we could start unloading, I had to get my car off the trailer and unhitch the trailer so I could back the truck up the driveway to the garage door. Before I could do this, I had to jump start my car because the battery was as dead and listless as I was.
It was a very intense period of time for me—a fitting end to a long and frustrating day. On one side my wife’s family was lined up with good and charitable intentions to prevent me from spending more money than I had to. To do this they had to prevent me from doing what I wanted to do, which was drink a glass of wine and go to bed. Arrayed against my well-meaning in-laws, one event after another was queued up with the Devil’s own intention of making sure that, even though I wasn't going to get any rest, I wasn't going to save any money either.
          Amazingly, we got the truck back with about 3 minutes to spare. The kid in charge at U-Haul wanted to make an issue of excess mileage and the fact that we hadn’t folded the blankets before we brought the truck back. He was more than happy to show me the place where it said I had to do that in the contract. If I’d taken the time to read the contract I wouldn’t have made it back with three minutes to spare. My youngest sister-in-law, a beautiful, elegant, refined, and agreeable lady who had not just spent three days jostling her kidneys in the truck jumped into the back and started folding the blankets. I walked inside with the kid in charge to settle up. He wanted a couple of hundred more dollars. He had a lot of reasons why, but he gave up on them when I pointed out that I’d had to make two trips across the state because their truck wasn’t big enough to do the job even though they had assured me that it was. Their literature said that their biggest truck had the capacity to move a four bedroom house. I had a four bedroom house but I’d sold most of my stuff in a monster garage sale before I moved so their literature was woefully misleading. The kid in charge rolled right over. I felt pretty good after that. I like winning one on occasion.
          My last move, two and a half years ago, was just as hard but it was a more joyous occasion. Then I had a new job. I was back in Florida. I had good prospects. The only thing wrong with that move had been that I decided to do it myself to save money. I did save money, but the experience was so physically demanding that I vowed never to do it again. Now I’ve done it again, and not only that. I’ve done it in such a way that I know I’m going to have to do it yet again—at least once more.
When I get a job I’m going to have to gather up my scattered stuff from around the state and haul it to another house. It won’t be so bad if I manage to get hired by a company that will pay for relocation, but lately no one, in Florida at least, wants to pay anything for relocation. I hate thinking about it.
          At least everyone seems happy to have us here. It’s going to be cramped. My wife and I have taken over the south end of the house—two tiny bedrooms separated by a tiny bathroom. We’ve turned one of the bedrooms into an office. Our computers are set up against opposite walls.
The garage is full of our stuff that won’t fit in the house. I know from experience that we’ll go through several weeks of adjustment while we sort out what’s in the garage that needs to be in the house and what’s in the house that needs to be in the garage.
It seems as though we've always lived like this, even when our house was huge by comparison. We've never had room for a car in the garage because it’s always been full up with our extra stuff. Even though we got rid of two truck loads of extra stuff and have another two truck loads in storage three hours away from here, things haven't changed much. Our cars are sitting in the driveway where they will likely remain.

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