This is the third part of the series Downsizing or why my impending displacement feels like a game of whack a mole.
Moving is like a game. The object is to get your stuff into your next house before your spouse starts their new job (so that you are not unpacking alone), before the kids start school in the fall, and before your household goods get lost, stolen, blown up, rained on, driven over, crushed, broken, cracked and/or mutilated.
The rules of the game require packers to come into your house and in a cyclone of frenzied activity pack everything in sight including your car keys, shoes, and garbage. Need a toilet brush? Well it’s probably packed with your children’s toothbrushes (which you forgot to extract beforehand), inside the waste paper basket, underneath all of your shoes, in a box labelled “guest bedroom.”
This will take 3 days.
Then the movers show up.
At this point you are so exhausted and drained that you are mere putty in their hands. The movers proceed to code all of your furniture.
Each piece of furniture is given a complex series of codes depicting exaggerated wear and tear. Your brand new couch is coded as s3 s34 s56 s7 s9 which according to their source code is deciphered as soiled on the left, soiled on the right, soiled underneath, soiled up high, soiled down low, soiled here and soiled there. If your couch is damaged in transit you have now zero chance of successfully claiming it.
For the next 12 hours all of your belongings are now carried one at a time out of your house and into the truck.
After which the driver will then and ONLY then tell you when you can expect your shipment. He holds all the cards. When we moved here our driver told us to expect a call in a few days for a date in the future. Mysterious. I love it.
If your shipment arrives to your new house before you do (read the driver called you once and no one answered) your household goods are put into storage. This is the black hole. The bermuda triangle of moving. The dark abyss of doom. Sixty-four people at this point will handle your shipment. At different times. On different days.
So say you navigate all of the above successfully. You, the spouse who is still on leave, the kids, the movers, and your stuff are now outside your new house. But wait. The people moving out are military too. They need a full moon, a month ending in “r”, and a red headed twin named Harriet who can ride a unicycle, in order to get their paperwork processessed to set up their military move—so they are still in the house. The one that you are standing outside of, with your stuff, and your kids, with the movers.
NOW your stuff goes into storage. Your spouse starts his new job. And you sit in friend’s house with your two kids and her two kids and a dog and a cat and all of your things you couldn’t let the movers touch (but without shoes and car keys because the packers packed those) and wait.
The term “Whac-a-mole” (or “Whack-a-mole”) is used colloquially to denote a repetitious and futile task: each time an adversary is “whacked” it only pops up again somewhere else. This, my friend, is moving.