Load-Out/Stay   1 comment

Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They’re the first to come and last to leave
Working for that minimum wage
They’ll set it up in another town

from Load-Out  – Jackson Browne

Our next few days were a flurry of packing and stacking.  Physically and emotionally spent – and now feeling it, we had to keep going.

Randy Scharpen, our international moving coordinator at North American Van Lines, advised us earlier that if needed, he could send a packer over to help us to guarantee that everything shipped by their van would be ready to go for pickup.  At $60/hour, hiring one was probably a good idea rather than risk more expensive delays

Only a day to go before pick-up, Cindy was sent to our home to help pack the kitchen and any other miscellaneous items still needing to find their way into boxes.  Cindy, Randy assured me, was one of their best.

He did not lie.  Cindy was a force of nature.

Before her arrival, I separated kitchen items and set them on countertops on separate sides of the sink.  Items on one side were for Cindy to pack; they would go on NAVL’s truck.  The others were to be packed by me and go in our trailer.

She breezed through that shipment stuff quickly.  I was happy.  I asked her to pack the stuff for the trailer and set it aside in a separate area to prevent it from going on the truck.  It was done in a flash.

Cindy was efficient – really efficient.  Almost too efficient.  My stamina flagging, I couldn’t keep up with her.  Whenever I blinked, something I needed – or something I didn’t – ended up somewhere in an unknown box.  I could no longer find it.  I resigned myself to my fate.

As one of NAVL’s most experienced packers, she was authorized to check all boxes and seal them for shipping.

Four hours later, everything going on NAVL’s truck, (except for our stereo, for which we lacked boxes), were boxed, taped and ready to roll.

In a stunning twist of fate, we learned that the trailer holding our load would bear the name and logo of – wait for it – Allied Van Lines (the guys we unceremoniously canned), not North American.  (Knowing the story behind NAVL’s sudden hiring by us, Ruth, NAVL’s shipping coordinator, called warning us not to panic.)  Despite being business competitors, Allied and NAVL share a driver, trailer and crew pool.  Our driver, Kevin Atkins, was the same guy originally contracted by Allied to haul our load.  Minutes after Allied canceled our pick-up, NAVL snagged him and his crew…and we had Allied’s trailer.

Learning that Kevin would drive our stuff across the border and to the bonded warehouse in suburban Vancouver was a relief.  Hiring personnel for relocations north of 49 isn’t easy for moving companies.  Non-citizens having criminal backgrounds of any kind generally are not admissible to Canada, even to drive a truck to bonded warehouses located not far from the border.  Delays due to driver switches aren’t uncommon.  Per our plan, our stuff would arrive in the Lower Mainland a few days after our arrival in Langley.

The possibility of our load arriving in Canada before us, as Allied suggested it would, never existed.   Ours was the first of three pick-ups en-route to Vancouver.  Kevin had pick-ups in Denver and Calgary along the way, crossing the border at Sweetgrass, Montana.  From Calgary, the truck would travel west to Vancouver.


The following morning at 8:30 a.m., Kevin and crew arrived with extra boxes for the stereo and other needed supplies.

We apologized for the mess.  Inspection and sealing of our boxes by Cindy meant unstacking our neatly stacked rows; boxes destined for NAVL’s truck were seemingly strewn everywhere.  The apartment looked like a tornado hit it.  Stuff in other rooms was divided into sections; boxes they would take and others that we planned to put in the trailer.  Boxes containing kitchen and other supplies we planned to take with us were moved into the kitchen.  The crew could safely ignore everything there.

They looked at us as if they thought we were crazy.  Compared to most of their customers, we had our act together.  Nearly everything was boxed and sealed in standard industry-approved moving boxes.  Small boxes were packed into larger ones.  This move would be easy, despite our three locations for pick-up.

Theirs wasn’t an idle boast.

Carpet runners were laid throughout the halls at Poplar Bridge before moving stuff out room by room.  Green numbered ID tags were affixed to items as they were moved out the door.  After the strewn boxes were taken from the living room, Paul disassembled the electronics in the entertainment center, recorded their serial numbers and boxed them.

Moving is a science, Rick, the load coordinator explained.  Once the stuff goes down to the truck, it is assembled like a jigsaw puzzle.  With years of experience under his belt, Rick could look over the contents of a load and visualize how it should fit into the truck before the individual pieces are loaded in.  The idea is to pack it all in in the smallest space possible without gaps to prevent load shift.  By putting everything other than furniture into boxes and using nearly no boxes from sources other than moving companies, we made his job very easy.

Another irony:  Kevin and Rick had worked together for years.  Not long into the process, I learned both are Canadians based out of Mississauga, Ontario (near Toronto).  Soon the two lobbed Canuck wit back and forth with Paul as I looked on with glazed eyes.  This was my future…talking to Canadians.

Shortly after noon our apartment was mostly empty, but the crew’s job was far from over.  It was time to assemble the jigsaw puzzle.

What should have been an easy job for Rick became a glacial process.  The two loaders, both newbies, didn’t follow instructions, causing numerous long delays.  Exhausted by 2 p.m., Rick and Kevin asked if they could pick up the loads from the shop and off-site storage the following morning.  We were happy to oblige.

Stage One was over.  Delighted, I buzzed off a quick note to Randy at  NAVL:

Hi Randy,

It’s 1:55 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, 2011.

Do you know where your moving crew & driver are?  (Hint: they’re no longer here at our apartment).

And, that’s a good thing.

We are very impressed with Kevin (our driver) and Rick (loading coordinator).  They were great to work with, very detail-oriented and knowledgeable.  We tried to make load-out as effortless for them as possible, which, given the small space of our apartment and the large number of boxes wasn’t easy.  They in turn, made the load-out process effortless on our part once it began.

And Cindy, the packer who came by yesterday to help us out is simply a force of nature.  We couldn’t have finished it without her.  She’s wonderful!

We feel as if a giant weight has been lifted from our shoulders and couldn’t be more thankful to all.

Thanks to all of you and best regards,

Cheryl & Paul

Perhaps Randy had a rough day.  Maybe he read the message without thinking about what he read…whatever.  Randy was not his usual sharp self.

Within minutes after hitting the ‘enter’ key, the phone rang.  Randy wanted to know if everything was all right.  “Everything’s great,” I assured him.  “Peachy keen, awesome, whatever.  We’re happy!”

The damage was already done, despite my profuse apologies for silliness.  Minutes later, the phone rang again.  This time, Kevin inquired if everything was all right.

Paul answered this call.  “Everything’s fine, Kevin.  Randy didn’t understand my wife’s sense of ha-ha.  She’s been hanging around Canadians for too long.”

Kevin told him that he didn’t feel it necessary to call.  He saw my email as forwarded by Randy.  He and Rick saw the humor, but Randy insisted.

Destiny and Carter were released into the mostly empty apartment.  Their reaction was one of horror.  Where is everything?  Where is our tower?  Carter paced nervously about from room to room and cried.  Dejectedly, Destiny moped.  Without their scratching tower and the usual comfy places to snuggle with Mom and Dad, they were not happy campers.

Bright and early the following morning, Kevin and Rick, sans yesterday’s crew (now fired) met Paul at the workshop.  I was left to continue packing stuff for the trailer and start clean-up.  After an hour at the shop and another hour loading belongings at off-site storage, they were done.  Our belongings took up roughly a third of their trailer.

Between that first pick-up and leaving Poplar Bridge that last time, we barely finished packing and loading Donovan and our rented trailer.  We still had a car and motorcycle to sell and Destiny and Carter’s kennel to buy.  Both vehicles were sold within the next two days.  I finished the two bathrooms and kitchen before exhaustion caught up with us.

Unused food from the freezer and fridge was donated to neighbors on fixed incomes.  Retirees love free food!  One thought she hit the jackpot when I unloaded over 2 pounds of individually wrapped and frozen sockeye fillets on her.

Resigned to our fatigue, we gave up on trying to clean the apartment before leaving.  By then, most of the hardest cleaning was done for the Poplar Bridge staff.  The rest could be taken out of our damage deposit.  Miraculously, the apartment was completely empty by the management office’s  extended deadline.

We were almost out of Minnesota forever.


One response to “Load-Out/Stay

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. When I moved to Florida last September I didn’t have as much to move as the two of you, and I still had headaches. So I feel so bad for you as I read this. The exhaustion must of been monumental! When I left my home in Oak Creek and my husband, I moved into an apartment. The Courts made it easy on me by telling me I could no longer take anything out of my home without Kurt’s permission, So I was given a small amount of possessions. I had to buy all new furniture out of my half of the bank account, it wasn’t easy. When I moved to Florida, I sold some of that new furniture to downsize into a trailer I rented from U Haul. It was packed and repacked many times to make the move easier and to store more stuff in the trailer. The downside, I still do not have any of my photo albums of my children and their young lives. My memories are something I am fighting for. I gave up massive amounts of furniture and appliances. I would of stayed in my home, but my daughter Stephanie told me it was only fair that Kurt have the house since his office was in the basement and he would be coming and going all the time. Not wanting to upset my daughter, I moved. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made. I wonder now if you will have the energy to go through each and every box once you arrive into Canada. I’ll have to read more!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: