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Shooting the Move

By Lisa Smith Molinari

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Prepare all you want, but in the end, every move is a craps shoot.

In two days, our movers arrive to take our belongings to Rhode Island. No matter what I do, something will be lost, stolen or arrive broken. I can only pray that it’s that particleboard microwave cart I’ve always hated that somehow miraculously survived our last seven military moves.

Our first mover’s name was “Rusty,” a swarthy, seasoned trucker, who’d seen many a military transfer.  Over lunch, he sat on the hydraulic platform at the back of his rig and told us stories of moves gone by.

“I’ve never had a late delivery. Even back in my drinkin’ days, I didn’t miss a beat. Why, one time after a fifth of Wild Turkey, I drove from Mississippi clear into Texas and had absolutely no recollection of it.”

As we watched him drive off with our priceless belongings, we muttered a quick prayer that he would stay off the sauce a bit longer.

Our move from England to Virginia was oh so civilized. The British movers were friendly young mates, who properly sat together with us at our kitchen table munching on fish, chips and pints of lager for lunch. As they drove off with our neatly packed belongings, we bid our new friends “tarah.”

Only later did we realize that they’d “nicked” our telly.

When we moved to Virginia, we requested a “full unpack” because we knew we would not have much time for unpacking with an infant and toddler. As luck would have it, the movers were two hours late, left early, and refused to unpack boxes or assemble beds.

To make matters worse, one Muslim member of the moving crew took a break to pray in our spare bedroom in honor of Ramadan. That was not the problem. The issue was that, ten minutes before he had entered the room, I had hidden in that same bedroom’s walk in closet to nurse the baby.

Deep in prayer, apparently facing Mecca, he was quite surprised to see me pop out of the closet, blurting, “Howdy, Mohammed! Sorry to interrupt, I’ll just scoot on out of here and leave you in peace. Toot-a-loo!”

Years later, we moved to Germany, and were naively hopeful for a problem-free move. I put out coffee and doughnuts. I bought lunch and cold drinks. I supplied reclosable storage bags, tape and permanent markers for the movers to pack hardware.

A few hours later, I watched in horror, as a crewmember formed a little hammock with his shirt, and used it to carry all our furniture hardware pieces over to the truck, then threw handfuls of the pieces in between furniture and boxes. I immediately protested, reminding him of the baggies I gave him for this purpose. “Trust me Ma’am, just shake out the paper at the bottom of the crate when you get there. You’ll see, all the pieces will be there.”

Of course, they were not.

And our last transfer to Florida seemed as if it was our first problem free move. We were so pleased with the German moving crew who were thorough, polite, appreciative, and hard-working — with seemingly super-human strength. After watching two men carry our piano down four flights of stairs, we thought the crewmembers were heroes. It wasn’t until we unpacked six months later at our current home that we realized they had stolen my husband’s entire irreplaceable military coin collection.

So what am I saying?  Should we all forget about the reclosable baggies and permanent markers?  Should we give up on buying the movers lunch to “butter” them up? Should we completely throw caution to the wind and hit the beach on moving day?

Probably not a good idea. But, we should realize that all military moves are a gamble, and the only thing we can be certain of is that the damned microwave cart will live to see another day.

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