Here’s what the last few weeks have looked like for us. We have been:
- Packing the house to move across the country
- Packing our trailer to live in for the next two months
- Buying a house
- Selling a house
- Starting a business
All at the same time. All while managing three borderline un-manageable kids with no off switches. It has all been … hectic. There are many adjectives I could end that sentence with; few that are positive. Hectic will do.
Oh, and we also got scammed by some movers, and nearly got scammed by them some more the day before we left.
We had been researching moving options to move from Raleigh to Phoenix to start a new company (more on that later), and originally went with a container company called Zippy Shell. Soon after, we found another company that offered full moving services for a competitive price. We enticed them into a bidding war, and Open Road Moving came out on top. We gave them a deposit.
Here’s where the first red flag popped up. The bid they gave us was the result of a cursory estimate of how much stuff we had to load in their truck. This was before we had even finished packing, and they didn’t seem too worried about cataloging every single box and lamp. They got a list of the big items, and a ballpark of the number of boxes, and gave an estimate of $2400 based on that.
A day before we were scheduled to move, we got another call from them, wanting to go over the order again. We did, and this guy seemed much more interested in each and every box and item. Nothing was to go on the truck without first being on the manifest. After an exhaustive list, he more than doubled the price to $4500. He went on about how much more stuff we had than we had previously indicated, and assured us that any other shipping company would charge just as much. With one day to go, we felt like we should just do it and get it over with. We had a dozen other things on our plate anyway.
The next morning, the movers arrived while Trish was home and I had taken Shiloh to school. She called me and told me that these new guys had eyeballed everything in person, and now wanted over $8000. I told her that there’s no friggin’ way. Let me get back home and handle them. While I was driving home, Trish read up on bait and switch scams, and this was textbook. The two movers who showed up rambled on about how the guy on the phone was just a guy at a desk and can’t see the items himself to give a proper estimate. Yes, that’s exactly what we said to him on the phone I thought. It’s obviously a bad business model, but that’s because it’s not supposed to be a viable business model. It’s supposed to be a scam. It’s scammers preying on peoples’ desperation in the face of a deadline to shell out far, far more than they should.
I was having none of it. I argued with the gap-toothed driver for a few minutes, telling him in an only slightly edited fashion to GTFO. He tried his best pitch, even going so far as to claim that the fuel alone would cost $2k (I had checked before – it would be less than half that). I sent him packing. I called Brian back at Open Road and berated him too. I don’t even remember what I said. I just vented with the force of three weeks of stress and frustration. I didn’t even let him talk. I just hung up on him and reported him to the Better Business Bureau.
So that left us with under 24 hours before we had to be out of there, and a house full of stuff. We decided on the spot that I would manage the entire move myself. We would cram our stuff into a storage locker in Raleigh, and when our trip was done, I would fly from Phoenix to Raleigh and load everything into a truck and drive it cross country myself, bringing our cat and dog along too. We rented a truck and scouted for available storage spaces. Our neighbor managed to rustle up a couple of strong dudes on short notice, and another friend of ours came over to help, and we all set to work, filling the truck and shuttling it over to the storage facility. Two trips later, we had emptied the entire house. We finished up a couple more errands, and settled in for a night in the trailer out on the front lawn.
The next morning, we scrambled to finish packing up the trailer and cleaning out the last few things in the house. By a little after lunchtime, we hitched up and hauled out.
Over the last two days before we left, we had no time to process anything other than the task(s) most immediately at hand. There was no time for reflection on the fact that we were leaving our house. No time to anticipate the two months we will be spending on the road, living out of the beastliest trailer on God’s green earth. We quite simply had no time. As a result, nothing has really hit us yet. We don’t have a house right now to go back to. Our familiarity is gone. Our neighbors, our really excellent neighbors, are not going to be around anymore. Our ever-so-sweet mail lady won’t be around to spoil Roxie with dog treats. We don’t have a big, beautiful grassy circle for the kids to run around in and pick flowers. Our old life is gone. I’m writing this from our family rental cottage at the beach, and it still has not hit us that we can’t go back anymore.
But, such is life. Things change. To be sure, our new home in Phoenix is nice. It’s on a cul-de-sac, it’s walking distance to a playground, and it’s got curb appeal and plenty of space. We’ll settle in there just fine. Shiloh and Judah will start preschool and make new friends in no time. The business will get up and running, Trish and I will meet all the neighbors and make new friends, and life will go on. All will be well.
It’s just frustrating that such a momentous overlapping series of life events had to be soured by nearly getting scammed big time. (The only thing that would have been worse was if we had actually let the desperation get to us and gone through with it.) It’s a frustrating precursor to what will surely end up being a wonderfully dramatic trip. I mean, we’re going to be living out of a small trailer, all five of us, for two months, while touring the US and Canada. It’s gonna be nuts.
It’s classic Trish and Graham. There can never be something that we do that doesn’t go super right and super wrong. There can be no achievement without calamity. No silver lining without the storm cloud. Hopefully we make it through the trip without getting scammed again. Hopefully we get established in Phoenix with little trouble. Hopefully all goes well.
But I doubt it. Everything we try is eventful, whether we want it to be or not. We’ll make it through in one piece. We always do. It’s just gonna be crazy along the way. Stay tuned.