Friday, July 27, 2007

To U-Haul or not

Published in The Long Island Advance
July 26, 2007

As many of you know, I’m planning a move to Queens in the fall. Anticipating this I’ve begun to pack boxes. I don’t have much in the way of furniture, but boy, do I have a lot of boxes. They sit in closets or the spare rooms on the third floor of the house I’m living in, just waiting for me to carry them down three flights of stairs and out the door.

Initially when thinking about moving my thoughts were, “no big deal,” it’s just a bunch of boxes and some minor furnishings, figuring a U-Haul, my son Nick, and one or two of his friends and maybe a few pizzas’ and my move would be accomplished. My daughter, Erin, I suspect will be more like a “box unpacker” as like her mother, carrying heavy objects is not our thing.

In my mind my move was all figured out using a U-Haul and the man-woman power of my children. That was until I helped move Erin to Astoria a few weeks ago. It didn’t take long for me to decide that hiring professional movers was a much better idea. Twenty (well, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but it felt like twenty) trips later, up three flights of stairs each time, and I was convinced of it.

The day of Erin’s move she and I drove to Queens early, my car packed with bags and boxes, wine glasses, a full length mirror, her laptop and TV. First we had to stop in Forest Hills to pick up the key from her new roommate. Of course the Map Quest directions were not quite accurate and not being familiar with the area, we drove around, and around, and around, until we eventually ended up in the general vicinity of where her roommate works and the elusive apartment keys. I finally found myself parked in front of a fire hydrant outside a church with the word “martyr” in the name. “Ah, the perfect spot,” I thought to myself.
Miraculously, we made it from Forest Hills to Astoria using directions provided to us by people who do not drive. Need I say more?

After my car was finally emptied, we had time to kill while waiting for her father to arrive with the U-Haul and her cousin and uncle, all there to be the furniture movers. In between we went looking for a mattress pad on Steinway Street and found ourselves in a linen store. As I walked in, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath saying to Erin, “I can’t believe it! We’re in the old Swezey’s linen store!” I was so excited to be there that I stopped thinking about my twenty trips up and down the three flights of stairs, and those that were yet to come.

The U-Haul was a drama unto itself. Even though I wasn’t actually driving it, I felt like I was, after all, this was a collective experience. Where were we going to park it? Where did we have to go to return it? When we couldn’t find the place to return it, what way were we going to drive to get it back to were it was picked up, since you can’t drive them on parkways? One mini U-Haul nightmare after another, found me making calls the next day for estimates from professional movers.

When she heard this, my mother’s first words were “We used to move your sister all the time and we never used movers.” I think she’s forgetting that was over twenty years ago and we’re all that much older now. Personally, I’m done with physical labor. I want someone to carry out my boxes, drive them to where I’m going, carry them in and leave me sitting on the floor in my new living room, unpacking them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Third Rail

It's never a good thing when you're sitting on a stopped train, looking out the window and wondering how deep the water is that your train is sitting in. It's even worse when the engineer announces that you can't proceed because the water you're sitting in is over the "third rail!" Correct me if I'm wrong, but...isn't the "third rail" the electric one? He continued on by saying "We're not exactly sure what we're going to do next."

We obviously did not get electrocuted, which of course was my first thought. But knowing that I was sitting in a big metal box on something electric that was now covered by a river of water, was not a comforting thought at 8 AM this morning.