Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Moving Day and How the Blog Saved Me

No, not the one in California. I'm fairly certain a significant number of people exist who actually believe that we've moved to San Francisco, California. Don't worry, we could never afford to live there. And so we aren't.
Now that that's cleared up, let me offer up a portion of the tale of woes and joys that were our move to San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic (yup, we still be on the island).
A week before our move, we called "the moving guy." We met one of his cronies at a party we'd gone to a month earlier. I've found, in this country, that as long as you're out & about talking to people, you'll meet the ones that can help you up & out of whatever it is you're currently struggling with--or you can help them. Dominicans want to help you and are usually distraught if/when they are unable to do so. At the time, I was at a loss how not to get ripped off and hire a moving truck at the same time (well, I'm always interested in the former). TheMovingGuy came to the house, poked around all the rooms and gave us a quote.
I motioned for him to follow me, "Even this piece?" I pointed at an awkward and large piece of furniture we inherited from another Baha'i family that had moved months earlier. He casually nodded, yes. This guy had more than a beat up pick-up truck and the price seemed fair (=less than we had budgeted). We'll take it. See you Saturday at 8 am.
We packed all week. And cleaned. We celebrated two birthdays. The kids played 62 games of Uno. And packed some more. And I graded a ton of essays (yup, online gig's semester doesn't end until mid-August). We found things that belonged to damn near everyone we know here (including long-gone guests from the US). We returned stuff, sold stuff, gave stuff away and had get-togethers every night. Josh and I love having people over--even in chaos. We also checked a few things off of our Santiago bucket list. Posts coming soon (I still have a few essays to grade).

Annery directed one of the night's packing extravaganzas.
Focused Freilyn worked diligently while Kelvin waited to show us his newest magic tricks.  
After Zora packed one box earlier in the week, I forbade her to do anymore "packing".
She is, however, fabulous at cleaning and plays a mean game of Uno.
Somewhere after this photo was taken, the camera was completely forgotten.
Bear with me.
This same evening I got a phone call from a Baha'i in Santo Domingo. A gem of a human. Salt of the earth.
"Hey, so, I'm headed to a RUHI training in Santiago for the weekend you're moving. Sorry I can't help you move, but do you think you could use my car?" he says. At this point my mouth is open and no sound is coming out. We're on the phone, so he has no idea how I'm taking his offer. He goes on, "I can drop it off Thursday to your place in Santiago and then pick it up on Sunday in San Francisco. Whaddyasay?"
I coughed.
He kept talking, "It's a manual."
"That would be amazing," I finally manage to say, still overwhelmed by his generosity. Josh and I had just been brainstorming the very problem of having a moving truck to take all of our stuff, but no way to take ourselves to SF (not to mention all the things that you can't live without for that last day of moving-out-house-clean-up--boom box, cleaning supplies, my blender, the hose I forgot outside).
It's a good thing we'd accomplished/packed/cleaned so much earlier in the week, because with a car, we rocked a to-do list in the city that had been growing since the last time we rented a car.

Saturday morning, we woke to someone knocking on the gate 6 minutes before our alarm went off. TheMovingGuy and his cronies. Dang, they're early. Really early.
"We put the beds into the truck first!" they called as I rubbed sleep from my eyes. I stumbled around the house attempting to direct six overly-eager men throwing boxes this way and that. I almost resorted to a bucket of water to wake my children so TheCronies could take the bed they were sleeping on. Once my glasses were on my face, the world came into focus--this was it! Moving day.
For the next hour, I ran around the house packing up last-minutes to fit on the truck and pulling aside boxes I suddenly didn't trust TheCronies to "Handle with Care". Then I saw it. That awkward, huge piece of furniture. Untouched. And the truck half full already.
"Umm," I stopped Cronie#2, "Don't forget about that piece of furniture."
"Uh, yeah," and he walked off with the box. Upside down.
Ten minutes later, I stopped Cronie#1. "What are you going to do about that huge piece of furniture?"
"Oh," he said with an air of I'm the professional here, lady, "We're putting that in last, at the back of the truck."
"Not what I would have done," I responded, "but I'm sure you know what you're doing." (White lie I told that day, #1)

And then the moment came. All TheCronies were standing around the back of the truck like they'd finished most of their work. TheMovingGuy was inside the truck, just enough space for himself as he adjusted boxes an inch here and there. I walked out and stood there.
"There seems to be a problem," I announced. Only Cronie#3 looked at me. TheMovingGuy kept his head down, pretending to be uber-focused on the exact angle that a particular box should face.
"Can we consult about this?" I asked, leaning my head to catch TheMovingGuy's line of sight.
They all knew exactly what I was talking about. Awkward, large piece of furniture was standing all by itself, in its same place in the house as when they'd arrived.
"It's just too big," TheMovingGuy finally said. I inwardly scoffed. It would have fit quite nicely in the back of the truck. Its large, but not bulky. There isn't much mass to it. Things can easily be packed in and around it.
"Let's find a solution to this," I responded and he got down out of the truck. I found Josh.
"Look," TheMovingGuy said, "that piece of furniture is too big. You just had too much stuff." Well, I agree with that, but not the way he wants me to.
"If you do recall," I said calmly, knowing this was entirely his bad, "the day you came for a quote, I pointed this specific piece out to you and said, 'Even that?' You said yes, then we talked about your son. Remember?"
TheMovingGuy's necklace had his name on it: Felix. Sweet.
Photo credit: Melanie, a better blogger
who said after she snapped the photo,
"I somehow feel that the necklace will be
an important part of this blog post."
"I didn't see the piece," he said, his voice low.
"No, no, no," Josh jumped in, not happy, "I showed it to you that day too."
"And I pointed it out and asked about it twice this morning while there was still plenty of room in the truck," I said. TheMovingGuy was losing this one fast.
"It won't fit in the truck now," TheMovingGuy responded, not going where I wanted him to.
"This, my dear, is not our problem," I looked him straight in the eyes.
He nodded.
"Look," I said, (White lie #2) "I have a blog that all Americans who want to move here read. I really want to write something nice about you." (Okay, more than a white lie) "I'm eager for you to find a solution to this problem."
TheMovingGuy went back and talked to TheCronies.
"I have another truck. For RD$2000 more, I'll take this piece of furniture too," he came back.
I gave him a disappointed look and then Josh called our friend with a truck. In a country where you don't know 80% on any given subject, its important to have people you trust to tell you what is normal/reasonable and what isn't. TruckFriend said it would cost about RD$500 to get to SF from Santiago and back.
"Look," I told TheMovingGuy, "We have a friend who will do it for RD$500, but I'm really hoping we don't have to do that. I really do want to write good things about you in my blog, so I'm sure you'll come up with a better solution that doesn't involve us paying any more money."
He left again. And I waited, hoping he would be inspired.
"Okay, if two of my guys can ride in your car, we can tie the furniture to the top of the truck."
"I was going to offer them a ride anyway," Josh responded with a smile.

The moving truck with awkward, large furniture tied to the top.
Photo credit: Melanie
By nine-something-am, TheMovingGuy, TheCronies and Josh were on the road to San Francisco de Macoris. Me, kids and a gang of sweet helpers stayed behind to clean up and say farewell to our first home in the Dominican Republic.


  1. I really want to know what the "large, awkward piece of funiture" it a desk? A book shelf? An entertainment center? A counter and the kitchen sink?

  2. It will make an appearance shortly. :) It's story did not end at the top of that truck.