I have now officially moved to Small Town, Tennessee. Of course, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. The stress of this move has turned even more of my hair white, to the point that I fear I'm going to end up looking like an older, female version of Albert Einstein.
Since I had less than a month to move to Small Town, I had to hire a moving company in a hurry. I called almost every interstate moving company in Chicago. Several of them refused to do my move, since they said it was too small. Others said they weren't willing to do an interstate move to a small town. A few were willing to do it, for the paltry sum of $2,300-$4,000.
The cheapest one I could find turned out to be the Worst. Movers. Ever. Later, when I Googled "moving scams," I read about red flags that people should watch out for. Of course, this company had all the red flags.
For one, the sales rep claimed that they could give me a low price because they didn't do an estimate in person. Even though I gave him an itemized inventory, the movers ended up charging me hundreds of dollars more on moving day, because they claimed that my belongings took up more space than expected in their truck.
The sales rep also claimed that it would only take one or two weeks for them to deliver my things. Later, I found out that it could take up to three weeks. Fortunately, the delivery driver called me a week after I moved to Small Town, telling me that he would come by the next morning.
He didn't. He didn't come by the day after that, either. Neither he nor the dispatcher returned my calls (I called them thirty times EACH and left more than a dozen messages). I finally did reach the dispatcher at one point, who yelled at me and said that he didn't know where the driver was. The driver only returned my call after I threatened to call the police and file charges against him for theft.
I started to worry that I would never get my belongings back. Most of them weren't expensive, like my fifteen-year-old TV that still had a VCR. But I couldn't help worrying about the items that had sentimental value, like the small stuffed animal I've kept since I was fourteen, because it was the first gift I ever received from a boy I liked. There were also my high school yearbooks, which had signatures from my friends and classmates. I also fretted about the loss of all my books, especially the ones that were autographed by authors like Anne Lamott, Amy Tan, Studs Terkel, B.J. Novak, and Jen Lancaster.
Most of all, I FREAKED OUT about the possibility of losing more than twenty-five years' worth of journals, everything from the ones that had entries written in crayon to the more recent ones that included handwritten copies of my manuscripts (some of which I hadn't copied into my computer yet). Losing my writing was as frightening to me as a musician losing his or her instruments and songs or the Kardashians losing their audience (or their mirrors).
When the movers finally arrived several days late, some of my belongings were missing. A chunk of my table had been broken off. My drying rack for my laundry was broken as well, and so was one of my bookcases. The other bookcase had been taken apart, and the movers refused to put it back together (even though they were supposed to, according to my contract). All of my boxes were wet and damaged. The movers left fairly quickly, maybe because I kept waving a screwdriver around and shrieking about the cops.
I tried to call the company, but they either told me to file a claim online (though I doubt I'll ever get any money back) or hung up on me repeatedly (which they had done before). I plan to file a claim, as well as a federal complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. I will also post negative reviews of the company all over the Internet, including the Better Business Bureau (which gave this company an F-rating). I've learned my lesson, and the next time I move, I'll do my research.
But at least I have my writing back. That's something.
What about you? If you faced the prospect of losing all of your belongings, what would you miss most?
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