Thursday, October 02, 2008

Moving heaven and earth -- and my stuff

The movers were coming.
The big orange semi into which all my worldly belongings were loaded in Lorain last Friday was set to pull into Quality Self Storage on Pasadena Avenue in St. Petersburg at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Walid (pronounced Wall-eed), the main mover, called me and said to meet him there.
I made sure I got there on time. Something says you shouldn't anger in any way the man who holds all your earthly possessions.
Plus, it would give me a chance to find some things I wish I would not have packed -- like all my clothes and my toaster.
There we were -- Walid, a local moving man named Greg who was there to help and me -- in front of the Quality Self Storage at 8 a.m.
Too bad the place didn't open until 8:30.
Yikes. I offered to go find coffee for the kind mover men.
We finally got into the place and started unloading. My compartment could only be accessed from inside the huge warehouse because I got a unit that was "climate controlled," which means it is in air-conditioning.
I watched as boxes marked "books" were loaded onto dollys on top of boxes marked "fragile -- wine glasses."
I thought I better help.
So there I was in 90-degree heat and humidity, working right alongside the two men.
I plucked out a box here and there. Some marked "kitchen," some marked "Patti's clothes," some marked "EXTREMELY fragile."
Most of those boxes would be placed toward the front of the storage unit so I could get access to them at a later time.
A few of the others, I would take back to the teeny little one-bedroom apartment my husband and I are inhabiting until we find a house we like, er, can afford.
About three hours into the unloading-off-the-truck-and-reloading-into-a-storage-unit, it became apparent -- to Walid, at least -- that everything wasn't going to fit into one unit.
So, soon we had two.
I was chasing after the cart- and dolly-wielding moving men, trying to read what the boxes were labeled. Darn, I wish I would have put bright yellow stripes on the important ones.
Walid, who came to the United States from Syria 20 years ago, assured me 1. he would stop loading books on wine glasses and 2. he would keep the boxes I need toward the front of the unit.
It took "us" eight hours to get everything unloaded. About six hours in, I gave up caring about anything. They could put the stuff in however they wanted.
I was sitting on the curb outside the warehouse when Walid came to tell me they were finished.
"It was close but we got it all in," he said.
"Just be careful when you open the second unit. We had to put the TV on top."
The TV? The 52-inch TV? On top of what?
"Can I get at the boxes I need?"
Walid didn't answer.
"If you take the TV home first," he said.
"Let's go look," I told him.
He followed me into the warehouse and we stood before the closed door of the unit.
"It's in there," he said.
"Can we open it and look?" I asked.
"We better not."
We better not? What does that mean? We better not when he's still here?
"I want to see what happens when we open that door -- while you are still here," I told him.
So, he pulled open the garage-door-like metal door.
There before my eyes was my stuff -- packed from floor to ceiling. I could see the front tire of a bike and piles of boxes. And right in the front -- if it was any closer, it would be touching the door -- was the back of the big TV.
Oh, well. At least, I had put some boxes in my car to take home with me.
I was too tired to see if I grabbed good boxes until this morning.
I pulled the tape off and opened them.
The kitchen boxes contained not the toaster or my coffee grinder but cups and casserole dishes.
The boxes marked "Patti's clothes" contained not shorts and T-shirts but sweatshirts and shoes.
Well, I never win the regular lottery -- why should I win the box lottery?
Hopefully, we'll be in a new house soon and I'll be able to have everything I need.
Until then, you'll find me walking around in sweatpants and high-heeled pumps as I try to brown my toast in a casserole dish in the oven.

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