March 31, 2011

I'll Be Leaving Here Feet First

This is this week's The Raven Lunatic which appeared in various Indiana newspapers between March 29 and March 31, 2011.

Spring is traditionally the season for relocation. Moving vans and rental trucks will soon populate Indiana highways, moving stuff from one place to another. College kids will move out of dormitories and apartments, back into their parents’ basements for the summer.
I count moving right up there with gum scraping and primitive camping at Salamonie on my Least Favorite Things list. (For another time…rainy night at Lost Bridge West State Recreation Area, a leaky tent with no floor, and a prissy, fourteen-year-old girl who sleeps in the car.)
This is our fifteenth spring in our home. Our last two moves were relatively uneventful, though I do not advise moving while eight months pregnant. A woman in that condition can become slightly unhinged when Hulking Movers almost drop her prized piano on concrete steps.
When I moved to my first apartment, I was excited about having a place of my own. The studio apartment rented for $100 a month and included such amenities as a fold-out couch and a bathroom. The move from my parent’s house involved filling my ’71 Cutlas trunk and back seat. My dad brought some furniture in the back of his truck.
In 1981 I decided to move my precious piano from my parent’s home to my apartment. By then I lived in Fort Wayne with a friend in what we dubbed the “Disco Condo.” I needed a lift for the piano, and the 26-foot Ryder truck was the smallest one with a lift. With three of my girlfriends, we piled in the cab of the truck and headed for my parent’s house. I recruited my friend Doris as the driver – I had no clue about the truck and she was willing and free driver.
Four single young women were at eye-level with semi-drivers. We got a lot of honks and waves. With my dad’s guidance, we carefully moved the maple spinet piano from the house onto the lift. My friend got in the cab to raise the lift with Dad standing on it next to the piano. She raised the lift, and somehow accidentally put the truck in gear and it lurched forward, almost toppling my father and the piano. She nearly smashed the basketball hoop in front of my parent’s garage.
A year later when I moved out of state, I asked my dad to take back to their house in his truck. There were no problems. I moved to Florida with a female friend, and neither of us wanted to spend the money for professional movers. She had a male friend who wanted a free trip to Florida. Our plan was to rent a truck, tow my car, and drive hers. Her male friend would drive the rental truck to Florida and back to Indiana.
This was not a well-thought out plan. Neither she nor I nor her friend knew to put my car in neutral, and the rental truck dragged the car to the first stop. Seeing a two-year old car with four completely bald tires is a tragic vision for someone trying to save money. Secondly, we didn’t consider the low miles per gallon for a loaded rental truck. By the time arrived in Florida, towed my car, paid for hotels and meals, and gasoline back to Indiana for her friend, we could have hired a luxury moving company.
I still had not fully learned my lesson. My friend moved back to Indiana and my husband and I were married. We moved across Tampa Bay so he could attend college. Here’s the important lesson I learned: don’t select the first mover out of the phone book. Just because the company name is AAA Super Good Movers doesn’t mean they are super good.
The movers came early on a Saturday morning. We said goodbye to our neighbors and their parrot. I wasn’t sad to leave the parrot; he sang the first line of I Left My Heart in San Francisco whenever his cage was uncovered. He was no Tony Bennett. We drove from Largo to our new home 45 minutes away.
Eight hours later, the movers had not yet arrived. It was Saturday evening and no one answered the phone at their office. Senseless as this seemed, my husband went searching for them. He found them at Wendy’s having dinner.
They told him the truck had broken down on the Howard Frankland Bridge. All our worldly goods were moved from one truck to another. It took another hour for the half-mile drive to our home. Finally the Super Good movers arrived and demanded $200 more than the written quote. If we didn’t pay them immediate, they would take our furniture to their warehouse until this was resolved.
Can you say hostage? This was one of those life lessons your parents warn you about, but somehow you are too righteous to listen. We call this a “two hundred dollar mistake.”
Since that disastrous 1985 event, we’ve moved three more times, including our move “back home again” to Indiana in 1988. Each time we used a professional mover. With God as my witness (paraphrasing Scarlett O’Hara), I will never, ever, ever do it myself again. © Amy Abbott 2011 Amy McVay Abbott is a native of Whitley County and a resident of Warrick County. And she’s not planning on moving anywhere else. Her column runs in several Indiana newspapers. She likes to hear from readers at