Saturday, July 17, 2010
Nightmare on Roscoe Street
Originally uploaded by lesterjay
Hi everyone. This is the first post that I will not be writing in "real time." I had wanted to post a message on the day of our travel, July 17th, but was without internet while on the road. I did have my iPhone, but the messages that it can post only allow for about one sentence. Anyway, the move was so stressful, and I was thinking about what I wanted to write while driving, so I will try to remember. Here goes.
As many of you read in the weeks before my big move, I had been packing many weeks in advance. As the week of the move arrived, I began to feel ahead of schedule, and thought I would have plenty of extra time on my hands. As it turned out this was somewhat true. It was still a busy last week, but not nearly as hectic as one would expect. I was able to go about my business in a leisurely pace.
On Thursday night, July 16th, my cousin Fred flew in from Orange County to help us load up the U-Haul, and drive my car. When he arrived I enthusiastically told him that everything was either in our storage unit, or carefully organized for loading, in my garage. I said that looking at the next day's work, I thought we could maybe finish loading up early, and hit the road a day earlier. I told him that we could pick up the truck around 8am, get to the storage unit, and finish loading those things within a couple of hours. Then the things in the house shouldn't time much time at all, maybe a few hours at most. Maybe we could drive straight through to San Diego, and get there Friday night.
How naive am I?
That next morning I realized that my 16 year old son still had one last day of summer school, and I had told the staff that it would be his last day at their school before the move. So while we really needed his help, I told him he should go ahead and get to school. That left my cousin, my 12 year old son Remy, and I, to get all the morning loading done. We first headed out for coffee, as the coffee pot was already packed of course. So, by the time we started heading toward the U-Haul yard, it was already after 9am.
We arrived at U-haul, and waited for our truck to be brought out. I had rented a 17 foot truck, which was advertised as big enough to move a 2 to 3 bedroom house. Well, I had donated about 10 car loads of my things, so I figured that meant we had only about 2 to 3 bedrooms worth of things. Wrong. First of all, it turned out that the truck said spacious enough for a 1 to 2 bedroom house. Fred and I stood there for the longest time staring into the back of this huge truck. "I think it's big enough." "Well, I wouldn't say it's too small." "Are you sure?" "Are you?" "Yes, it's fine." "Are you nervous about running out of room?" "Well, kind of." "Well, I think it will be fine." "Oh, me too."
We drove straight to the storage unit, which was just around the block. We went up to get the first load, and carefully began carrying things into the back of the truck. Everything seemed so much heavier this time around. We needed to take some time to be sure everything was well organized, and piled high, if we were going to make good use off all the space. With each trip back down from the storage unit, we would look into the truck, and then at each other. "What do you think?" "I think it will be just fine." "How much more stuff is there at the house?" "There's still a lot, but lets keep loading and see when we are done." We finally came down with the last load, and carefully placed everything in an orderly fashion.
"Shit. I don't think there is going to be enough room." "I don't think so either." "What the hell are we going to do?" "I guess we need to go back and request a bigger truck." "Won't it be too big?" "I think so, but what else can we do?" "Your right, let's get it done quickly, the loading took much longer than I thought."
We then made the exchange and had the two trucks parked back to back so we could move everything easily from one truck to the other. When we had first driven in to the U-haul yard there were many Latino men standing at the entrance asking people if they needed workers. As we drove by them we both scanned the crowd. One of them caught my eye, and I turned to Fred to say, "If we need help, he looks kind of strong." Fred laughed, and said he knew that I was going to say that. He agreed that this guy was not the typical type that is out front. He was handsome. I told Fred that maybe we could hire him, but he would have to take his shirt off to help. We both laughed some more.
Well, we opened the back of each truck and took a look at all we needed to transfer. "Fuck. This is going to take us a hell of a long time." "Maybe we should get some help." "Look who's coming this way. It's the cute Latino guy." "Necesita ayuda?" "Si, pero solamente por treinta minutos. Tienes un amigo?" "Si, por tres horas?" "No, treinta minutos. Veinte dolars por trienta minutos." "Okay." These two guys went straight to work. They were moving faster than seemed humanly possible. It was actually kind of funny to see them moving so fast. I looked at Fred, and pointed out that nothing was being organized very well. We decided to just let them load it the way they wanted, and we could reorganize it when we got home. "Are you sure we shouldn't hire the cute Latino guy for a few more hours? He might get hot and sweaty later." "No, Dante will be back from school, and with the boys' help we should do just fine."
When arrived at the house I wondered where we would put this enormous truck. After all, I live on a street with quite an incline. Fortunately the neighbors were home, and they gave us permission to block their driveways for awhile. We got the truck parked and started quickly reorganizing it, and loading things from the garage. It was a lot of work but it seemed to be moving along fine. We realized that we were all very hungry, so Fred and Remy set out to buy us lunch. About this time I realized that all the cars that were previously park across the street had all left. I could move the truck over there, and we would not be blocking any ones driveway. I told Dante to hold off on more loading, as I wanted to move the truck before I lost the parking space.
I started up the engine in the huge 26 foot truck. I could see that the size of this machine had Dante feeling quite intimidated. He didn't want to come near it while the engine was on. I carefully let go of the parking brake, and allowed the truck to slowly move forward. I then looked back, and figured I could just put it in reverse, and back it into the open spot. I took my foot off the brake, and quickly gave it some gas. The truck began moving back at the angle I had planned. "This is easier than I thought." I was almost where I needed it to be when I heard the big 'crack!' Dante came running around the truck. "Dad, you hit the top of the neighbor's tree!" "What tree. I don't see any limb from a tree." "That's because it laying on the street behind the truck." "Shit!"
I figured I didn't have time to worry about the tree at this point. I needed to get the truck over there before someone else took the spot. I told Dante I would drive around the block, then come down the street and park the truck. He could move the tree limb before I came around. I started driving very slowly down the hill. I needed to make a right hand turn, in a somewhat small space. Our streets are very narrow, and also lined with other cars. I was taking it slow, and moving very carefully. "CRASH!" "CLANG!" "Dad, you hit someones car!" "What? Fuck. I'll move the truck away from the car." "Grrrrrr. Crash!" "Dad, your dragging the car down the street!" "Shit. Shit. Shit!"
About this time several of the neighbors are running out of their houses to see what all the noise was. I jumped out of the truck and ran over to the passenger side to see the damage. "Shit!" I had pull off the whole front end of the car. "How the hell did I do this?" Dante was running around in a panic. "Dad, what are you going to do?" "Okay, calm down. I'll just try to find the owner." Well, nobody knew who's car it was. I went up and down the block, and still no luck. In the end I realized that I needed to get the truck back to where it originally was, and back to loading. About this time Fred and Remy arrived. They didn't even realize that the mammoth truck was now at the bottom of the hill. When I came up walking up the hill, they gave me a very confused look. "Why is the truck down the hill?" "I hit a car. Not just slightly hit it, I think I may have totaled it." "Well, all you can do is put a note on it. We need to get back to loading."
I went to get some cardboard, and wrote the largest apology note possible. I put my name, cell phone number, address, and another big time apology, and then went back to work. Eventually, hours later I heard a knock at the door. A guy I had never met was standing there with a grin on his face. "I figured you were the guilty party. Just look at the size of that truck." He was the nicest of guys. I gave him all the information he needed. I told him I would do anything needed to get his car fixed. He said not to worry. He would deal with it tomorrow, and give me a call.
Whew. Well, we worked all afternoon, and early evening. Loading, moving, reorganizing. And eventually, we had to make some cuts. Our 26 foot truck was not big enough for everything. I mean we had that thing loaded to the gills. The very last thing that made it onto the truck was a very large mirror, which was lifted, and held in place while we carefully pulled down the back hatch.
By the time we were done it was 10pm. By this time it was so late, and there wasn't going to be time for long goodbyes. I did make a quick trip down to our bedroom. I told Michael that we were moving. We had some happy times here. And we had a significant ending. In the end I knew that all those memories, and Michael's love, would be traveling with me. I picked up the box which held Michael's urn. I placed in in the cab of the truck, right behind me. I started the engine, and we were off.
We were tired. We were sweaty. But we hit the road. This was the beginning of a new chapter.