Sunday, August 9, 2009

Charlie Foxtrot II

It's rare that I sleep in -- I hate to squander dawn and pre-dawn hours.

This morning I made an exception.

Our choice to hire movers for the last big bits ended up adding stress, not alleviating it. Two weeks ago my wife made arrangements for them to begin at 9am yesterday, and we were at the house a half-hour early. When the truck didn't show by 9:15am, she called the moving company.

"We're sorry," said the recorded voice. "This number has been disconnected."


Both of us began phone-Googling other ways to get in touch with the tardy toters. I found what appeared to be a cell-phone listing for the owner and called the number.

"We're sorry. This subscriber's voice-mailbox is full."

The sinking feeling in our guts could've been worse -- at least we hadn't put down a deposit. Mrs. KintlaLake and I discussed our options and placed a few more calls to explore those options, without success. Eventually I tried the original mover's mobile number again. The sleepy owner answered.

The cynic in me insists that he was hung over. Sticking to the facts, however, it was clear that he'd forgotten to schedule our job.

It was after 10:30am when the truck finally showed up in our driveway and two smallish young men hopped out of the cab. They were friendly and polite, but they didn't present a sight that inspired confidence. Worse, they lacked the equipment to do the job they'd been contracted to do -- they were without hand tools, straps or an appliance dolly.

Even so, the load-out went without incident. Once at the new house, the movers got my father-in-law's "lacquer lecture," cautioning them to mind the woodwork.

I'd heard that speech before, but I hadn't expected the driver to ask for payment-in-full -- cash only -- before unloading the truck. I ignored him.

As the second half of the ordeal got underway, my wife and I were around the back of the house preparing a clear path for arriving goods. Suddenly, we heard a loud crash from the driveway.

The movers' dime-store dolly had jumped off the ramp leading down from the truck, dumping our washing machine onto the concrete. I instructed the driver to keep working, assuring him that we'd discuss the damage later.

One of the last pieces to come off of the truck was a large, armoire-type chest destined for our bedroom. The movers had wrestled it about halfway up the stairs when it became obvious that it was going to fall -- either it'd take out a wall or break the downhill mover's legs. (Lacquered woodwork notwithstanding.)

I'm not accustomed to doing a job that I've paid someone else to do, but this time I had no choice. I threw myself under the lower end of the 300-pound piece, got a good grip and proceeded to chest-press it over my head and out of harm's way.

Bad for my back. Good for my ego.

Once all six items were safely inside the house, my wife and I sat down with the movers at the patio table to discuss the charges. I was, shall we say, inflexible -- I wasn't about to pay retail prices for wholesale incompetence.

Ultimately, and after I spoke directly with the owner, paying two-thirds of the invoice settled the account. The moving company's insurance will cover damage done to the washer and armoire.

We occupied ourselves the rest of the day with unpacking and arranging, along with rounds of ice and ibuprofen. After an extended cat nap, at midnight we drove to Lancaster to fetch our older spawn, who'd spent his Saturday doing volunteer work.

At that point we didn't need to make our long days any longer, but all three of us were hungry, so we ducked into an all-night restaurant for a wee-hours breakfast. We fell into bed just before 3am.

And that's why I slept in today.