PCS Adventures: Our home, this home where we began our married life together, is empty. Well, almost empty. There’s a few plastic totes, some suitcases, an air mattress and a couple of folding camp chairs. The house echoes and every sound carries without our furniture to soak up the noise.
Every PCS (acronym for “Permanent Change of Station” which is military speak for moving to a new location) is different and no matter how many times you’ve moved there are new challenges that crop up. This one started out rocky. I always recommend Special Power of Attorney documents be drafted to navigate the reality that the military doesn’t much care about non service member spouses. What this means is that without a Power of Attorney, I can’t schedule movers or sign for the dispatch or receipt of our household goods. As in, my own clothing is not my property without that special power of attorney. It’s quite a bit different to moving as a civilian.
Yep, all that experience I have moving internationally -5 times – and at least another dozen domestically in Australia, moving with the US Military is a whole different kettle of fish. This is where having a military brat for a husband comes in handy – this way of doing things has been his life for, well, all of his life.
Why so rocky? Despite meeting with TMO (the office that handles these moves) in June with that trusty Power of Attorney because Running Man was out of state for work, we found out by accident four days before the date our movers were supposed to arrive to begin packing that our “move” had been “accidentally dropped” from the TMO system – ie: it had been cancelled. We were pretty frustrated because we had called two days prior to ask about who had been assigned to move us only to be told then that the moving contract had not been released to the moving companies to bid on. In other words, either we were mislead or someone didn’t know what was going on at all. It was likely the latter. We were then told that movers may not want our contract because it is “only” an in-state move. Yeah, sorry, that’s not our fault.
Roll on the 26th July – we were originally slated to have movers in our house on the 27th – and we spent most of the day making calls and asking what is happening. We get a call early in the afternoon, that there is a company who is willing to move us. We then get a call from the company representative who arranges to call back to do the survey that afternoon. Often, the company comes to do a physical walk through, but this company is based 1.5 hours away and the timeline was short.
That afternoon, my husband handed me the phone and I walked through the house and gave him details of all the furniture and items that wouldn’t fit into a box. Our 11 bookshelves in the library yielded a “is your house really full?” – no sir it is not, we just have quite a few books.
All sounded good to go. No 27th – 29th pack up, they would come on 1-3 August instead. Big deep breath, it’s all in the window. This will be okay.
Until two hours later when the phone rang and it was a different company altogether calling us about our move, and suggesting that we wanted to move the last week of August. Uh, No. Not even close.
At this point, we wondered about calling TMO, but decided that they had gotten us into this mess, so we called the moving company we had completed the survey with to make sure all the paperwork was in order. We had shared enough of the backstory with them so they knew why we might be a little concerned about making sure it all happened. Let’s call the moving company rep Gerry* (*not his real name*) made sure he had all the paperwork. He also told us his wife convinced him to take our job because she determined that there had to be a reason for the short notice. Thanks Gerry’s wife, we really appreciate you.
We then spent the rest of last week trying to reschedule and move up things we had originally scheduled for this week. We are also doing a partial Do It Yourself (the military calls this a DITY, pronounced like ditty) move so that the things we will need while waiting for a house on base/trying to find a place to live are with us, along with some other special things – read: family heirlooms that if lost or damaged our families will be pretty upset about, as would we.
This past weekend we gave away things we didn’t want to move with – like our wheelbarrow – and things the movers won’t let us move with, like chemicals, other liquids and candles. We spent Sunday picking up the uhaul trailer, weighing everything empty, and starting to pack it.
we got up I got up at 6 (running man was awake at about 5) to pack our cars with our luggage and the kitchen and bathroom boxes – these are where I put the essentials so they are easily accessible but also enclosed. The movers arrived around 8:30 and started packing simultaneously in the study, garage and kitchen.
The movers packed everything that would fit in a box and by 5pm, we were surrounded by boxes. If you’ve managed to get your head around all those dates earlier, you might have noticed that they were supposed to take two days to pack and another to load.
So, finishing on Monday meant Tuesday would see loading.
We were pretty exhausted Monday night, but relished one last night in our own bed. While we woke up early, we will still surprised by a 7:15am phone call saying they were 30 minutes away. 15 minutes later the semi-trailer rolled down our street. Not getting a chance to eat breakfast was really not the best way to start the day, but it was time to suck it up. These movers worked quickly to move the boxes packed out the day before. They had to brown paper wrap every piece of furniture and before doing so spent time meticulously marking the condition of every single piece down to the smallest scratch or rub. There is good reason to this, the movers themselves payout any damage claim.
But the brown paper made me feel like we’d been pranked. Brown paper and tape everywhere.
It always worries me when the boxes aren’t crated in front of us – but how things travel will remain to be seen.
One of the upsides of the nature of these things is the amount of walking i’ve done in the last week. According to my tracker, Sunday-Tuesday, I walked at least 7 miles a day. My feet hurt and I feel like a wimp. Especially because running man got up early and ran 6 miles on one of those mornings. Judge away.
You’ll notice that much of the above is without emotional reflection. That’s because when you have four strangers in your home and you are focused on the task at hand, processing the emotions of leaving our Cottage by the Park inevitably had to take a back seat. We’ll get there.
This brings us back to that air mattress, camp chairs and luggage.
The wonder of PCS Adventures!