Collision Course: Part 4 – Slam on the Breaks and Wail on Your Horn

The next couple hours were somewhat peaceful.  Relative to the previous 6 months, being in the hospital with my beautiful sleeping wife and baby was the equivalent of being in an all-inclusive spa.  Looking out the window from our room, I could see the snow had not subsided all night.  As gruesome as it would be out in the cold, the snow covered world around us looked positively beautiful from the warmth of our room.  Sure was glad I was not one of the movers.  Poor bastards.  In the corner of the room was a super-sized soft & comfy recliner.  I sat on it and rocked gently taking some time to enjoy the serenity of the moment.

Just after 1pm, with everything under control at the hospital, I decided to make my way to the new house.  I had swapped text messages with my brother Ben and his wife Lisa, they had successfully completed the walk-through and had keys in hand for the new house.  In light of the situation, the builder was okay with me not being present, the new house was now officially ours – all paperwork was signed off.    So I made my way over there to relieve Ben & Lisa of their duties, get the keys, and coordinate the movers who I thought just might be at the new house and unloading boxes by the time I got there.   The roads were a mess, but with the morning rush hour complete, the mover’s trip over to the new house should have been relatively painless.  Ben and Lisa were at the house, but there was no sign of any movers.   Not overly concerning, they still had a few hours left to complete the job.   So there I was in a brand spanking new home with not a single lick of furniture in it.  Nor was there a single speck of dust or any sign that any human had ever been inside that house other than myself at that very moment – for me, a very comforting feeling.  Just then, I realized I was only running on a couple hours of sleep.  Surrounded by pristine untouched beauty, I simply picked a space on the floor, lied down on the floor and drifted off knowing that either the doorbell or my phone would wake me up when the Mitch and his team of saviors arrived.

As it turned out, it wasn’t the doorbell or the phone that woke me up, it was my stiff aching  back.  It was now 2:30pm, there was no sign of any movers, and I could hardly summon my muscles to move in such a way that would get me up off the fucking floor.  Rising gingerly to my feet, I called Mitch to find out what the scoop was.  I was now somewhat nervous that this 5 hour quote was going to become an issue.  After a few long rings, Mitch picked up:

“Mark! The world’s newest Dad!”

“Yeah, yeah, thanks Mitch.  Listen, I am at the new house and you’re not.  Where are you guys?  We’re going to be hard pressed to get this done in 5 hours wouldn’t you say?”

“Shit Mark, we’ve been stuck at your old house all day. We’re still there.  The snow here is brutal, the truck is fully loaded but it has been spinning its wheels in the snow right outside your house for the last 2 hours. Crazy eh?  Shit, it has been unreal – Betcha we burned right through the tread on our back tires! Your Mother in law didn’t tell you?”

He made it sound like this was some sort of fun adventure for him.   I remember when cars skidding in snow was fun too, I was probably no older than 7.

“No, she didn’t, probably thought I was pre-occupied.  So you’ll be here shortly?”

“Yeah, for sure Mark.  But no way in hell are we doing this job in 5 hours man. This job is a monster, you got a lot of shit!”

People never like to be given the run around, but I have always found that blunt ignorant honesty of this nature is equally infuriating.   Suddenly I could see that the quote I had initially received was no longer of any relevance whatsoever.  I could see Mitch tearing it up into a hundred tiny pieces and throwing it out the window as we spoke, disappearing like confetti in the wind.  But if anything, Mitch was honest.  He continued,

“And it turns out we brought the wrong truck”.

“Wrong truck? What do you mean?”

“Well, we meant to bring the large truck, but instead we brought the medium truck.”

This was clearly a sophisticated outfit I was dealing with here.  I could picture their comprehensive fleet of 3 moving trucks outside their office – visibly marked “Small”, “Medium”, and “Large”.  I wondered who the half-wit was at this company that found such a classification scheme overly confusing.  Mitch continued to explain, with far more enthusiasm than I would have preferred, how ironic it was that the “medium” truck was the only one that was not equipped with snow tires (unlike the “large” truck), thus perfectly explaining why they had been spinning their tires outside my house for the last 2 hours.  He then hit me with the real crux of the situation:

“The other issue is that the medium truck doesn’t hold all your stuff.  We only have about half of your stuff loaded, so it will take another trip.  And with this weather, we’ll have to do the 2nd load tomorrow.  But don’t worry, we’ll make sure we bring the large truck for the 2nd load.  Snow tires and all”.   He said this as if expecting a warm compliment from me for dealing so brilliantly with the various complexities of the situation.

Having no energy to continue this conversation with Mitch any further and fully conceding to the fact that this move was going to cost me substantially more than $700 and 5 hours, I hung up with Mitch and waited for him to arrive.   I had no patience or energy for any sort of discussion about medium vs. large trucks at this point.  Let’s just get our stuff in the house so that Jerilyn, Jan, Olivia , Jack, and myself could have a comfortable place to sleep I thought to myself. As important, I wanted to make sure that the necessities of raising a newborn were promptly identified, unpacked and set up awaiting Jerilyn and Jack’s arrival.  Last I heard from Jerilyn was that she was expecting to spend the night in hospital with Jack, the two of them would be home the next day and between me, Mitch, and his boys, I was going to make damn sure we were ready for them – one load or two.

A short while later, the famed “medium” truck pulled up to my door.  A large, nondescript white moving truck with some half-ass amateur logo painted on the side.  If this company was looking for a reason to convince the general public not to do business with them, this truck was it.  The driver got out first, this must have been Mitch.  He was followed by 2 other guys in their mid to late twenties.  If I hadn’t known them to be movers, I would have easily guessed them to be freshly released inmates from the local penitentiary.  Ragged overalls, unshaven, unsightly, and each with hands and fingernails that appeared to be stained with years worth of dirt having never once been near a bar of soap or a source of clean water.   Suddenly, I had an image of those moving doors on the back of the truck being released only to see all our belongings erupt out after having been recklessly jammed in like locals on a Tokyo commuter train.  I tried my best to ignore that image.

As the other two got organized, Mitch came over to more formally introduce himself and offer his wise perspective on how this move was going to go down in light of the unfortunate developments of the day.

“We’ll get this truck unloaded in short order and then get back to your old house first thing in the morning.  We’re going to get this move done in 2 days for you Mark.”  Again, he continued to offer bad news in such a way that seemed as if he was doing me a favour.  Mitch carried on explaining that given this was now a 2-day move, which was initially planned as a 1-day move, there had been no consideration given to what went in the medium truck.  In other words, there may be some beds, there may not be.  There may be some sheets and pillows, there may not be.  There may be a baby crib, there may not be.

There may be 3 dead movers lying in front of me shortly, there may not be.

Continuing a trend that had begun earlier that morning, I realized that each time Mitch spoke, it felt like getting kicked in the groin with one of his steel toed boots.  He then offered up two of his most notable nuggets to date:

“Hey Mark, the snow is still coming down.  We will have the large truck with the snow tires tomorrow, but you can never be too careful.  It would probably be a good idea if you headed back to your old house tonight and did a few doughnuts around the old cul-de-sac so that the snow would get packed down nice and solid. That way, there is zero-chance of our truck getting stuck tomorrow.  It’s the deep, unpacked snow that causes problems”.

“Sorry, doughnuts?”

“Yeah, head over there in your vehicle and whiz around in circles, skidding your back tires around so  that you pack that shit down good. Shouldn’t take too long”.

This man was a fucking lunatic.  I had a wife and a newborn boy in the hospital who I desperately wanted to see and this numbnut had just casually asked me to spend my evening recklessly skidding around in circles in front of my old house like some drunk high school kid?  I was quite certain that this was probably exactly how Mitch liked to spend his free time.  That said, I wasn’t sure how to respond, realizing immediately that following Mitch’s sound advice would a) be futile, b) likely result in my arrest, and c) convince me that I’d be better placed in a mental institution than in the new house I had just bought.  So, I just blindly nodded at his sage advice.

With his second gold nugget floating around in his empty skull, Mitch then took me aside as if he was about to tell me some very confidential and sensitive information.  Unsure what could be confidential and sensitive about my move, I eagerly anticipated what wisdom he was about to impart on me.

“Mark, my man Raymond over there . . you saw him get out of the truck, he’s been with me for a long-time. He’s a good guy.”

“Okay . . . . .”

“Yeah, well, the thing is that he has been known to have sticky fingers.  But I don’t want you to worry about a thing, I always make sure to keep my eyes on him when we’re on a job. Don’t worry, I won’t give him a chance to get up to any funny business.”

Mitch was breaking records by the second for his oblivious candor.

Taking stock, I was now working with a completion time that was the definition of Moving Target.  In addition to that, only half of my stuff was going to be unloaded today, much of which appeared to have been randomly selected and placed inside a medium sized truck with slick tires instead of a large sized truck with snow tires.  Finally, I had been asked to consider driving doughnuts in the snow around my old house for much of the evening in an effort to “pack that shit down good”.   Leading the charge on all of this was my new pal Mitch and his crack squad team of deadbeats, with at least one of them being an active criminal.  Things were turning out splendidly.

I was suddenly jarred from my blessed recollection of the day’s events when one of Mitch’s guys (the one that was not Raymond) came running out of our house and toward Mitch and I.

“Mitch, Mark . . . we have our first casualty!”

Unfortunately, someone hadn’t died.  Instead this was how Mitch and his team marked the occasion of something breaking whenever they did a move.  Apparently a common occurrence.  I felt like the 3 of us were going to suddenly start dancing in circles and yelling “Opa!”  In this case, our dining room table has just parted ways with one of its legs . . .  a critical component to any functioning dining room table.  Mitch was quick to take the reins.

“Listen Mark, these things happen. But don’t worry, we are insured.  We will see to it that your table is fixed by one of our in-house carpenters or our insurance policy will cover the damage.”  I later discovered that this company’s insurance policy was about as valuable as my new 2 piece dining room table.  But in the moment, I once again just nodded dejectedly.  This day was a whirlwind and I was being thrown around like a rag doll.

Mitch, Raymond and Mr. Casualty carried on with the move, recklessly trudging snow in the house with each respective unloading.  At one point I noticed a mattress had been placed in the kitchen, I thought that was a nice touch.  Nevertheless, that meant there was in fact a bed, which was good news.  With Jerilyn and Jack still in the hospital, Jan would get that one and she’d probably even agree to sleep on it once it was removed from the kitchen.  The way the day was going, I firmly expected to be sleeping in the bathtub on top of one of Olivia’s flotation devices.

At some point around 6pm, the final item from the medium truck was unloaded into our house and Mitch and his team drove off presumably congratulating themselves on a job well done.  Moments before however, Mitch had mentioned that he’d left his clipboard and a whole pile of presumably important documents related to our move at our old house.

“Mark, with the snow being what it is and this truck being a bit of a slider, would you mind going over to your old house and picking my stuff up for me?”

I wondered if I was to do this before or after skidding around my cul-de-sac for the better part of the evening. He continued:

“I’m actually not going to be working with these boys tomorrow, but I can pick the papers up from you in the morning.”

So many things were swirling through my head at this point.  I had no intention of picking up this idiot’s paper work that he had accidentally left behind, nor could I believe he even had the audacity to ask.  And now, the job would be finished without Mitch tomorrow.  Say what you want about him, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about the move being completed the following day with just a board certified thief and a mover that celebrates broken furniture.  For the final time that day, I just nodded at Mitch, he was never going to see his clipboard again and I was likely never going to see him again.  We were each going to be losing something special from that day forward.

December 18, 2013 closed with me back at the hospital and my Mother in Law unpacking boxes and trying her best to organize things at the new house – a challenging task indeed. The day had proven to represent the ultimate highs and the ultimate lows that life could offer.  On one hand I had a new son, Jack, who thankfully got to spend the day in the loving care of his Mother.  And on the other hand we had Mitch and his movers who continued to surprise with increasingly higher levels of ineptitude and stupidity at every corner.  In the middle was me, and with one life created on this day, I took comfort in the fact that I was not directly responsible for someone else’s life being lost.  But the surprises were not yet over, there was still a few more loose ends to tie up. Mitch and his merry movers were not out of the woods yet.

      The satisfying conclusion can be read here: