25 August 2010

The Politics of Moving

Moving is a wildly annoying event even in the best of situations. Moving with the military quickly becomes a tour de force of confusion, stress and general incompetence. Since no one can take an already trying task and make it a million time worse the way the Navy can, here is the rundown of the political nightmare that getting from one place to another entails.

First you get orders. (Negotiating for said orders is a whole other can of worms that left me needed a Xanax and a stiff drink.) You will get these anywhere from a few months ahead of your arrival date to the day before they expect your spouse to be helicopter delivered to a boat 3 days into a 9 month tour in Bahrain. Your mileage will vary.

Next you get going with personal property. This office gets you set up with packers, movers, delivery people and temporary storage as required. I use the term "set up with" in the loosest possible terms. As of the week before our move was theoretically scheduled we had heard neither hide nor hair from the packers or movers. It is important to note here that the job goes to lowest possible bidder with the earliest availability and often your packers are not the same company as the loaders and your stuff may be shipped and unloaded by multiple companies as well…this becomes key as our tale unfolds.

Assuming all goes well (and for us it did until this point) the packers show up and start loading your stuff into boxes, dismantling your furniture and so on. This bit went fine at the time though half the boxes were labeled with "our" name misspelled and we later came to see that the labels on the boxes had little, if anything, to do with the contents of said box. As you all know I spent forever and a day sorting all our stuff so that it could be most easily unpacked. There are no words to describe how I felt when I opened boxes labeled "baby shoes" only to discover that the huge box weighing at least as much as I do actually contained a mix of DVDs, camping supplies, computer bits and a set of wrenches. The phrase "soul crushing" comes to mind.

Next day the loaders arrive. This is where our tale becomes more of a horror story. The loaders arrive to declaration that the beds need boxes and the washer needs "washer pack" whatever the fuck that is. The guy then goes on to say that if the packers make them late, then there will be a "waiting fee" since it makes them late to their next job. When the packers finally say they will be there in 20 minutes, the moving guy announces that "the waiting time starts now." During all of this we are trying to contact personal property, the people who are our advocates after all, and no one is there. That's right; there is no duty officer bothering to answer their phone at 1pm on a work day. WTF? When we finally get someone on the phone he proceeds to tell me that there is no such thing as a waiting fee and when he speaks to the movers, the asshole claims he never told me any such thing. For anyone keeping score at home I have no less than three angry letters to write at this point in time.

Whatever, all the crap makes it onto the truck and off it goes. We convoy up to CT and arrive to a house that clearly has not been cleaned properly in well over a year. I later learn that the previous tenants had 5 home-schooled kids. Apparently living like human beings was not part of the curriculum. Add in that the back deck provides an excellent simulation of surfing and now I need to add the lack-luster property manager to my list of people to torment daily.

I spent a full day cleaning and the floors were still leaving our feet black. All in all it took 3 cleanings to get them to a point where I would let me kids play on them. The truck arrived with our stuff, that bit went fine except that out couch was creased neatly down the center of one seat and my exercise bike now has no seat back and a broken electrical panel. Despite the broken gear and the somewhat misleading labels on boxes, it is all unpacked and set to go.

Now all we need to do is go through the claim process for the damaged goods. This appears to involve some kind of convoluted system with personal property (ah yes, those whiz-kids again) the moving company and some kind of elaborate online claim tracking system that seems to be pretty much inoperable. This is a classic example of how the military systems creates endless loops of passing the buck so you never get any help and the general American customer service method by which people hope that if they fail to help you long enough, you will go away. Oh well, I have brought bigger systems than personal property to their knees, this too I shall overcome…

The house itself is beautiful, our neighbors are very nice and I have pretty much conquered the fact that the landscaping has not been touched, well, let's just say ever. (Apparently what I think constitutes a house being "in good, move-in condition" is very different from popular perception…but that is another story all together.) Now that I am sitting here in my spacious living room, not a kid's toy in sight, enjoying my laptop and a drink, it is all just fine my friends, just fine.


Alicen said...

So you already know the horror story that was our last move, I am still too traumatized to go into much more detail! Anyway while the claims system seems god-awful most of the time it's easier to send you a check then fight it too much.

Now this IS NOT to say it will be quick because I am here to tell you it is not. I thought they would fight us since we had so much stuff damaged, I even took very detailed pictures of everything because I was ready to fight till the death if I had too. We sent in the paperwork and I proceeded to call every few days to check on progress (and getting nowhere). FINALLY one day the check arrives, just like that, and it was over... just not for me!

Heidi Maxwell said...

YAY! Glad you made it in. Despite all of the confusement and sprucing, I'm sure your place is fab. Wish we were close enough for one of those play date things. Loves and hugs.