After a pleasant evening in the hospital and an expectedly uncomfortable first night spent on the floor of the new house, the morning of December 19th began with more boxes being unpacked and a quick trip for me back to the hospital. Jan would carry on working at the house and I planned to spend more time with Jerilyn and Jack at the hospital while the movers, sans Mitch, loaded up the Large Truck for the final time at the old house. The unlucky new owners would take possession of our old house on December 20th, so the plan all along was for Jan and I to spend the evening of the 19th prepping the old house for transition to the new owners. According to our realtor, we were contractually obliged to deliver the house in the same condition as when the purchasers had viewed it. At that time, it was of course in show home quality, but with everything removed we didn’t foresee too much trouble in mopping the floors and wiping down counter tops one last time
Raymond and Nick (as I later discovered his name to be) arrived back at the new house early afternoon with a large truck full of our remaining possessions. That meant they had spent another 3-4 hours at the old house loading things up. Funny considering that the moving company had initially quoted 5 hours for the total job I thought to myself. Clearly that original quote was nothing more than a number pulled out of someone’s uninformed asshole. Raymond and Nick went through the motions of gradually filling our new house with the countless boxes full of shit that Jerilyn and I had spent the better part of our lives accumulating. Thankfully, there were no more “casualties” on day 2, at least none that were identified and celebrated by Raymond and Nick. Considering that at least one of the fine gentleman leading the charge had “sticky fingers”, the coming months would be telling in that regard.
The boys wrapped up mid-afternoon, the large truck fully unloaded and my new house fully loaded. Day 2 had actually gone a lot smoother than I had anticipated and certainly a hell of a lot smoother than day 1. There were no requests for me to drag race around my old community, no forgotten clip boards, no readily identified damaged goods, no moving trucks stuck in the snow, and quite frankly Raymond and Nick worked about as hard as I could expect of anyone in terms getting the job done that day. So when the awkward moment came to “settle things up” as Raymond had politely asked at 4pm, I was actually considering giving both he and Nick a normal amount of tip. This, in comparison to demanding a full refund had we settled things up the day before. When the final bill was delivered, it was still like one final kick in the balls though. I had entered this little agreement with the International Moving Conglomerate standing before me on the understanding of 5 hours of work and $700. The bill in front of me read 14 hours of work and $2,000. Raymond proudly proclaimed “We didn’t charge you for the 2 hours we were stuck in the snow yesterday”. Thanks Ray. Unthinkable only 24 hours earlier, I proceeded to pay the $2,000 and tip both Raymond and Nick for a job well done. Blame it on the fact that I had a new born boy to look forward to coming home, or a new house that was finally stocked full of all our belongings and one that we could finally begin to feel at home in, but I was happy to tip the two of them and send them on their merry way in their large nondescript moving truck adequately equipped with snow tires.
I would come to wholly and deeply regret that decision.
The final item on the docket now was for Jan and I to head back to the old house for the final cleaning. Prior to that though, I’d head over to the hospital to bring Jack and Jerilyn back home for good. Jan had mentioned something about not all boxes for Jack’s crib being in his room. If a mattress could be placed in the kitchen, I figured a random box of crib components could quite easily find itself in just about any other room in the house, or worst case scenario it could potentially have been somehow left behind at the old house – in which case we were shortly about to be reunited with it. No worries.
After going back to the hospital and bringing Jack and Jerilyn back home, then having something to eat, and then finding and loading up the various cleaning supplies we’d need at the old house, it was almost 8pm by the time Jan and I pulled up to the old house with our shirt sleeves rolled up and ready for action. With possession scheduled for 9am the following day, common sense would say we were pushing it tight. Add to the mix that I was positively exhausted and borderline delirious, but at the time it felt like a perfectly adequate amount of time for 2 people to scrub down a perfectly empty house. I had figured this to be a few hours of our time, tops. Looking back at those 2 days, it is safe to say that the 1 word that best characterized the quality of my judgement would be “clouded”. Actually, clouded would be polite, the word that comes to mind now is what-the-fuck-were-you-thinking-you-incomprehensible-pig-dick. 10 words.
Jan & I walked up the front stairs of the house, mops, buckets, and rubber gloves in hand. It was a full moon, under the moonlight you could see the quasi-excitement on each of our faces of 2 people looking forward to some silence and the prospect of focusing on doing a good job. Only moments later, that same moonlight would show an absolute look of horror on my face as I unlocked the front door. At just the right angle, that moonlight would have also shown my ass cheeks clenching like a fist in absolute rage.
Jan and I stared at each other in disbelief. At first glance, the main floor was full of random shit. Some small shit, some large shit, some boxed shit, some unboxed shit, but one thing all the shit had in common was that none of it had absolutely any business still being in this house. Frantically running around the house, it was the same story in each room, random shit everywhere. Hell, the backyard still had our fucking patio set on display. Even the garage was full of shit, and big bulky shit at that. My trusty 20-foot ladder was hanging in the rafters! Suddenly my rubber gloves and my bottle of Mr. Clean all-purpose cleaning solution seemed totally inadequate. What I needed was that fucking LARGE moving truck, along with one of Mitch’s steel toed boots that would be headed straight for his tiny testicles. Though my judgement may have been lacking those last 2 days, my resolve was not. After taking a few minutes to compose myself, I proceeded to get to work with Jan. When you find yourself late at night surrounded by boxes of your shit within a filthy house that needs to be in empty and pristine condition by morning, you really have to start calling on those that love you. Love makes people do stupid stuff. Namely, help out with a job like this. Thankfully our family was ready and able to assist. We had 3 vehicles at the house in short order ready for loading. While Jan got down to cleaning, I worked with the others in loading the vehicles up with what we could. It was numerous trips for each vehicle that took us well past midnight. We called it quits at 1am, 8 hours from needing to hand the house over. But there was still work to do. Some large items remained, most notably my 20-foot ladder. We had tried to rig it on to one of our vehicles one way or another, but there was no way of doing so while still appealing to our joint common sense or desire not to accidentally kill someone while transporting it. I had considered leaving it behind, but I did not want any reason to get into any sort of quibble with the new owners. It had to come.
The following morning at 6am, my compact SUV was motoring down the freeway at 120 km/hr with approx. 14 feet of my 20-foot ladder hanging out the back end of it. The other 6 feet of the ladder were crammed up against my face and rammed against the windshield. Responsible, no. Necessary, yes. Idiotic, most definitely. I think it was 8:30am when I left the old house for the final time after doing some very final and admittedly surface level cleaning. It was done, with 30 short minutes to spare.
The history books will show that the missing pieces to Jack’s crib never materialized. The dining room table was of course broken, and despite numerous calls to claim this on the moving company’s highly touted insurance policy, they never acknowledged my calls . . . let alone send an adjuster out. The 5-hour quote for a complete job became a 14-hour invoice for an incomplete job for which the moving company received full payment, and Nick and Raymond received healthy tips. Yes, I pursued legal action. With the help of some highly priced lawyers I knew from my day job(working pro-bono), I filed for a claim of $3,500 representing the $2,000 paid plus damaged goods and personal time spent finishing the incomplete job. Though against the advice of my lawyer, I agreed to speak with the moving company myself in the hopes of settling something. It was of course only after receiving a formal letter from my lawyer advising them of my intentions, that the moving company surprisingly decided to return my phone calls. After about 5 minutes on the phone with them, the moving company offered the princely sum of $750. This did not cover anything, it did not cover the damaged items, not the time wasted, not the lost items, or the sheer pain and anguish experienced over 2 days of pure hell. It was an insult! I paused on the phone as if to let them realize that I was simply taking a moment to compose myself before responding back with a verbal tongue lashing. But that isn’t exactly what happened. After that slight pause, I took the offer. I took it like a kid takes candy from his Grampa. Why? I have no idea, other than the obvious fact that when push comes to shove I can fold like a cheap suit. After hopefully buying a new crib with my new found wealth, I decided to put the remainder towards a couple books – negotiation and home improvement being at the top of the list.