One Year Ago we returned stateside. Five Months Ago we received our household goods, not quite in the condition we expected. A month and half ago, the JAG office approved our damage claim, though the claim check took a little over a month to get to us. The replacement parts for the Sleep Number Bed are on their way and we begin to feel settled.
Unpacking when you haven’t seen your stuff for eight months should feel like Christmas, full of excitement and adventure. Instead, with each box, my sense of dread grew and my feelings of frustration toward the moving company increased to the “I. Just. Can’t. Even.” boiling point. Following are the top ten memorable moments of our move, this time with pictures.
- Contracted movers must reassemble anything that was disassembled at the previous location. A Hardware Box is labeled #1 and that is where all the screws, bolts, nails, washers, or whatever go – all labeled by furniture piece. Our hardware box contained hardware, most of it labeled incorrectly, and our Bed Pump (but not the plugs/hoses or remote). The movers on this side put together everything that we could find all the pieces for with the hardware that was correctly labeled. Oh, yeah, some of the furniture pieces were not labeled right either.
- When furniture is disassembled, the hardware should be in the box. We have two tall, black bookcases. Now, one of those is half a bookcase because they took it apart and lost the hardware. I’m not sure it was necessary to take it apart and I’m not sure they took it apart the right way. I found our original instructions for it and Peter did not remember putting it together in the order represented by our leftover pieces.
- The movers rolled our Sleep Number Mattress – like a sleeping bag – and labeled it “air mattress” even though in the walkthrough we told them this mattress needed to go in a box. I didn’t realize what they did until I saw it on this side of the ocean. I am sorry I didn’t take a picture of the wrapping before we attempted to put the bed together with the movers on this side. I say attempt because the bed screws were labeled “dresser” and the cover for the frame was in a different box than even the cords and remote. When Peter finally got everything together much later that night, we noticed a tear in the mattress cover and that the zipper no longer attached. The bed didn’t seem to air up quite right, but our remote quit showing numbers before the last move, so we just “guessed” the bed was aired to some Sleep Number amount. By the way: the bed was together in the same room when they packed it, so this many separate boxes thing should not have happened.
- Speaking of dressers, when in Europe, you buy a wardrobe. Most houses in Europe do not have closets.
The military lends wardrobes, but many families also buy one to bring back.I scoured sales for a bedroom set (because we had more bedrooms and when family visited, they would stay with us. We needed another bed). I found the perfect one – one I chose because of the wardrobe or “Schrank.” Schranks come in many parts so that you can move them (Germans move everything when they move, even their kitchens). This bedroom set is over 100 years old, made of real wood (not pressed or particle board furniture), and beautiful. The dresser that came with this set even had the original mirror! Well, it did. Now that mirror is in pieces, as is the glass top. We made this discovery after the movers left our apartment because the other movers labeled the mirror “Schrank parts.”
- We bought an extra cabinet to use for counter space in our kitchen while in Germany. That cabinet now has a broken hinge, and we are using in for some of the overflow of books. Now that the claim is settled, we may even figure out how to get rid of all the doors and hinges and just make it a bookshelf.
- After these big items came in broken, I started making the movers check things that I knew could easily be damaged or broken, because if they see the damage, they report it immediately as well. I made them unwrap the TV’s and the framed doily from my Grandmother. I made them find all the parts to the other dresser with a mirror. Thankfully, these items were all okay, especially that doily – the poor movers would not have handled my conniption well if that were damaged. No dollar amount can replace something like that.
- Most moves leave a person with some “normal damages” – a broken dish or a bent book, simply because of the way the items are wrapped and the boxes moved. When I pulled a broken dish out of each kitchen box, my level of understanding decreased.
- That is, each box actually labeled “kitchen.” Several boxes were not labeled and our “list” barely legible. Many of the last boxes packed contained kitchen items, like the Keurig. I opened every single unlabeled box and finally found the Keurig in the very last box I opened on moving night. After the bed fiasco, I knew I would need the coffee to survive the next day. How hard is it to label things anyway?
- We have many books, but everyone knows (or so I thought) that you don’t pack heavy books with glass frames. I also thought everyone knew not to pack frames with the glass side out or to shove glass items down/things on top of glass. While the mirror situation frustrated me, the following infuriated me, almost to tears: After Peter’s first deployment, a 15-month tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the soldiers in his unit were each given an American Flag. The dutiful, honor driven Army Wife in me bought him a Flag Box to display the Flag properly. As I pulled the triangle wrapping out of the box, I heard the distinct sound of clinking broken glass. I opened the paper to see the shattered glass. I not only wanted to file a claim. I wanted this company to lose their contract. It was the lowest point in my attitude.
- At some point, the movers became what I’ll call “creatively lazy” – putting things wherever they fit, even if that meant putting our still slightly damp towels with cake pans and my wedding tiara somehow ended up in that mix as well. I don’t even think the Tiara was in either place the towels or pans resided. That was the day I crowned myself Queen of all Moving and wore my tiara for the rest of the unpacking insanity. This is the point where I gave up my frustration and simply focused on the task at hand: making our new place home.
There you have it. The rest of the moving story, told at last with pictures. Do you have a disaster story or want to offer some extra condolences? Please leave me a comment!