Movin’ In, Movin’ Out

           When in the Air Force, or any military branch for that matter, it becomes incumbent upon one to either acquire an expertise in moving yourself and others or reduce your availability to that of the departed. On any given month someone you knew was bound to be packing up and departing either for another local residence or doing a Permanent Change of Station (PCS hereafter) to somewhere hopefully better than Luscious Langley. No matter how often you did it though, or how much help you had, it was always a real bitch. The contents of this tale will go over some of the more interesting times had in this delightful process.

      My first and most joyous move was out of the dorms. Oh, what a glorious day that was when the dorm manager came by at 7:00 AM on a Saturday and woke me from my weekend slumber, no doubt on purpose and in likely revenge for both my bizarre décor and the arm dislocation which annihilated his much touted safety record; his own fault for neglecting to post a ‘slippery when wet’ sign. “Wolfman, you on the list this month man. Get ‘chu a roommate an apartment or somethin’ and get the fuck out of here man.” My heart leapt with powerful jubilation, followed by panic when I realized that it was already the third week of October.

      One of his petty torments was to withhold the list for several weeks so that the elect of the month had to make a mad scramble to complete all the paperwork, find a place and perform a formal turn over of one’s room while furnishing evidence that you had an acceptable place to live. The Air Force abhorred the notion of young airmen living on the streets or their cars and using the money saved for mischief. The task was daunting and many had tried and failed. Unacceptable. Failure meant being moved to the bottom of the list and waiting a full year more.

      As the list was posted in the dayroom so all could see what lucky fucks made it any given month, I rushed down to examine it for potential roommate material. What the Air Force calculated was sufficient funding for an airman to move off base, enjoy the luxury of basic utilities and eat was a step below what sweatshops like Wal-Mart calculated for the same. It was absolutely necessary therefore to get a roommate unless you were married as those with spouses were given significantly more as a reward for adopting the ultimate appearance of being not gay. My luck continued to hold; Bell was on the list. Good old Bell from tech school. Quiet, unassuming, visited Georgia often and could probably be bullied on any given front allowing me to have my own way.

      Bell was still sleeping, but I couldn’t wait for him to wake to let him know immediately that he would be moving out of the dorms, and in with me. He resisted, explaining his plan to save money in the dorms for his upcoming proposal and assumed nuptials a year after. Though the use of some questionable math and ludicrous assumptions, I managed to convince him that he would save more money by moving out, and he agreed with some reservation. He knew my ways from too long an association, but also knew I was a man obsessed with escape and would bury him to achieve it.

      I became a tyrant as the hunt began, driving the effort and poor Bell with the relentless fury of a caged tiger. As most of the base was in Saudi at the time, I was on dayshift and Bell on swings. On the Monday after notice was given, I gave Bell a long list of items to accomplish while he was free during the day to include some paperwork and investigate some places of interest. He came in at turnover and I pounced. What did he find, what did he accomplish? Nothing. I demanded to know why and all but shook him into a state of hemorrhage. “I don’t know, I guess I got distracted” Bah, typical Bell! At that moment I hated the Southerns and their polite lackadaisical leanings. With just a smidgeon of Yankee ‘can do-titude’ they might have stayed free and today be another third world piss pot to our south.

      I took over managing the effort and burned some leave as every day wasted was a tick toward failure. We completed the paperwork and found the ideal place in 2 days. Great price, decent neighborhood and close to base. We filed our applications and it was my turn to screw the pooch. Like an idiot, I freely admitted abiding at Princeton as my last residence. If you recall, we left like thieves in the night, shoving our keys though the mail slot and leaving tremendous hulks of destroyed furniture as silent gravestones to our departed presence. Apparently they didn’t like that because when called as a reference, the manager recommended I be shot on sight should I set foot on the premises. Application, denied. A wretched turn of events after I had spent so much time flogging Bell for his minor drawbacks. On the very last day we got into a wretched little place in Newport News 45 minutes from base.

      The move to Cox Landing was fairly simple and I did it myself. I borrowed Carrie Pierce’s pickup and managed to move everything I owned in one shot, such was the status of my possessions. One would think that the belongings taken from a tiny Air Force room in which all the furnishing belonged to said organization would fill a great space, but in truth, they did not. My own stash consisted of clothes, books, movies, some bed linens, and a TV. My first evening there I constructed a bed of sorts out of two comforters. I assembled some boxes into a makeshift dresser, TV stand, and shelving. As I was assembling this it began to grow dark and I realized the need for a light. At a bad type of Dollar Store in which all items are rounded to the nearest dollar rather than simply cost one, I bought a lamp, bulb, and pillow.

      In the days and weeks to come we managed to gather considerably more items though shop hand me downs and ‘big ticket’ purchases on credit like the queen size bed I scored for $200, everything included. Most day to day items were bought as necessity dictated like a shower curtain or following unpleasant or untimely discovery like toilet paper. As such we grew an impressive collection of shoddy wares, all of which have since been replaced by items more fit for human use.

      In the spring of ’99 it was already time to move on. Saudi beckoned for me and Bell, and he planned to move his fiancé in as soon as we returned. I decided to plan well and concocted a scheme by which I would jam all of my possessions in the spare room in Bell’s new place and save on rent while in Saudi, then move out upon my return. We planned the timing impeccably. In the week before our expected departure Bell secured a new place, considerably nicer than the dump. We moved two days before the expected deployment so I would only have to ride his sofa for one evening.

      The move was interesting. We decided to rent a U-Haul to make things easier. I went by myself to pick it up and received what had to be the oldest, crustiest piece of crap in their fleet. A stick shift with a rotten clutch and separate lever and pedal for reverse that screamed in agony and threatened to stall each time I changed gears. Since I used my card to rent it, I was forced to drive, alone, as the assembled help declared it a bigger ‘hoopty’ than Uncle Buck’s car. Alone in the rattling grandfather to Tin Lizzie, I coaxed the sum of our belongings along the byways while Bell and the others drank beer in the sun for a good hour awaiting my arrival.

      The day we moved in was the same day slick Willie decided that the time had come to begin dropping ordinance on Belgrade in order to get Slobodan’s fat ass out of Kosovo. The Saudi rotation was put on indefinite hold. We might go next week, or 6 months from now, but we also might go in a half an hour so be really, really, really ready at every moment. As a result, I was stuck living in Bell’s storage space anxiously awaiting the call to arms.

      Two months went by and tensions rose a bit despite Bell’s easy going nature. For one, I secretly smoked in my “room”; a fact that fooled no one and slowly began to stink up the rest of the place. This really annoyed Bell’s fiancée Michelle (yes, she is now Michelle Bell), as did my presence all together. You see they were in a place in life where quiet evenings with other couples were what they liked to do. Then I would come in reeking of smoke after drinking with the neighbors for 4 hours, rummage around for more beer, speaking in an Irish whisper and snagging some of the cookies they all baked together. I began to get the feeling my presence and habits were wearing them down and decided to seek other accommodations after a few months and increasing frequency of hushed fighting heard though the walls.

      Fortune smiled on me again just as I had reached the irritation gradient of Owen Wilson’s character in ‘You, Me and Dupree’; Bryan had finally been granted funding to move off base. He came over and we scoured the paper under the watchful hairy stare of Michelle. We moved like lightening. Within 2 days we signed a lease and moved in to the fabulous Cordoba apartments where I would abide until leaving. Best of all, the Saudi arrangements got swapped around so that I would have the apartment a full 2 months while Bryan was in Saudi, and he would have it the following two while I was there.

      While my moves were done, the Bell’s were not and I got roped into schlepping stuff around three more times during which Michelle got her revenge for my corruption of her domicile. The first occurrence was quite a surprise. Bell had asked Bryan and me a while ago if we could help him move his sister and we of course agreed. The night before the date, Bell advised us to go to bed early because we would be leaving very early the next morning. Leaving for where? He had neglected to tell us that his sister lived in Charlotte, NC and that it was a 5 hour drive down and back on top of the move. It was a long and onerous process punctuated by them not being home when we arrived, a thunderstorm or two and much heavy shit. They did, however, provide plenty of beer and treated us to Chi-Chi’s after.

      The same cannot be said of the next move. A few weeks after I moved out, Michelle decided that they needed a new place unhaunted by the specter of my former presence. The acquisition of the new apartment and pending move was kept a closely guarded secret, so I never thought to screen the call that came in on a hot July morning. It was Bell, asking if I could come help move, that day. I was trapped. I arrived over there already sweating from the 100 degree sun and met Tim Kyle in the parking lot; also a victim of the cold call. A moving van was parked at the far end of the lot, the only open space, and a good 80 yards from Bell’s third floor abode. Balls.

      It was the most wretched moving experience to date. Upon Michelle’s arrival in VA they utilized their savings and wedding present cash to go out and purchase the heaviest solid wood furniture available; the good stuff that doesn’t come apart. The sun beat down on us hour after hour of moving the monstrous objects with nary a refreshment being offered. To complicate matters, they had introduced into the mix a small yappy dog named Duke who they refused to put away despite his constant and frequently successful attempts to trip us. At the end of the day, Kyle and I collapsed on their now empty living room floor sweating and aching, waiting to dig into the beer and pizza that is the de facto set price for moving labor. Bell offered us water. Before we could even finish, Michelle came over, stood over us and thanked us for coming by, dismissing us as loathsome unwanted creatures.

      I wish I could say that was the end of moving the Bells but they got us one last time. By then it was the end of our term of service and Travis had become my roommate; a story for another day. Like the time previous, Bell eschewed the common tradition of asking the whole shop to help and instead simply lined up Travis and I. To maximize the inconvenience, he picked a morning after Travis and I worked all night and bade us not to come over until 9:00 AM, a full 2 hours after our shift to ensure we would be most tired. I filled Travis in on the previous time and in expectation of the worst, decided to get loaded at Fertitta’s for 2 hours until it was time to go over. Knowing they would be unlikely to provide further refreshments, we stopped at the store for 40’s and carried them up to the door, wino style, still wrapped in the brown paper bags. Michelle answered with a look of significant dismay.

      I have to say; moving with Travis was always a lot of fun. During his own move into my apartment, he was unable to disconnect the water hoses to the washing machine. Not knowing the water valves had already been turned off; he moved them into the opposite position and sliced though the hot water line with a razor knife. I never laughed so hard watching him trying to struggle past the wildly whipping line spewing boiling water all about as he cursed the heavens and tried to turn it off. Travis, by the way, will get his own tale or two as he was in all accounts, my Virginia ‘Dan’.

      The whole morning was a comedy of errors. Bell had failed to dismantle a large entertainment console, prompting Travis and I to try to move it as is, wedging it immobile in the stairway until we had to break the thing to get by. I attempted to get their dryer on the truck by strapping it to a dolly and getting a running start up the ramp, but only succeeded in dumping it right off and blooding my knee in the process. To Michelle’s continued horror, Travis both took to barking at poor Duke until he ran away as well as grabbing his Milkbones and eating them in front of her. Once she asked if she could get him anything and he replied he was good with the dog biscuits; the green ones being the most flavorful. Frankly, he convinced me to do the same. By the end, everything was on the truck; banged up, dented, scraped, covered in mud and blood, outright broke, but there. The walls and corridors of the place had seen better days. We got another lukewarm thanks and headed to Waffle House.

      I have before touched on how much it sucks to move women and would like to end this tale with a few more examples of why. I moved Tiffany no less than 3 times in the span of a single year and from each experience learned to manage the process more efficiently. The first occasion was the epitome of poor planning in every respect. She picked as her moving day New Years Day, 2000; a day when no one else at all was available to help and we both hung over from the Y2K celebrations the night before. When I arrived bleary eyed that morning she opened her door, just awake then, behind her evidence that she had not accomplished a single thing toward preparation but for the acquisition of a few boxes that continued on in an empty status. I was not happy but resigned as she had only a dorm room worth of possessions to move into the second bedroom at Travis and Kelly’s (in itself a horrible idea, but more to come later).

      After the situation imploded at Travis’s a few months later, it was time for her to move again, but this time I was more prepared. Understanding her lack of forethought, I came over the day before and forced her to sort though her possessions discard the chaff and pack up the rest for the following day. Moving her this time was easy, but unfortunately I had no such input to her new roommate. Alicia had a place clear on the other side of town with parking no where near the entrance. Not the hardest thing to deal with. As expected she had done next to nothing before we got there, plus she had a 100 galleon turtle pond set up in her kitchen, still completely full and sporting dozens of fish as well as the two turtles. “I wasn’t sure if you guys wanted to move it as is, or what you want to do, so I left it alone” The other males and I looked at each other in complete dismay. It was the kind of pond almost always set outdoors in a big backyard and a good 10 feet in diameter.

      Although she was Bryan’s girlfriend, I somehow got boned with the task of capturing over 100 goldfish with a little net and transferring them into empty jugs for transportation. Roped Travis into helping – he would bail while I caught fish. Travis had considerably less regard for the poor fish and freely bailed them into kitchen sink when they got caught in the bucket. This did not last long as the accumulated fish stopped up the drain, forcing us to carry bucket after bucket to the back door. I got most of the fish by the time we were done though we hoped Alicia would not look out back and notice those that continued to flop around in the mud.

      In the end, that situation self destructed as well, creating a domino effect that shattered the cohabitation status quo. A few short months later I was moving her again, but this time into Vaughn’s; the worst situation yet. By then, however, she was impeccably trained in the Wolf system for moving and the whole thing was done in few short hours.

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6 Responses

  1. So … how long after leaving Princeton did this occur? I am surprised they remembered you for the minor offense of sneaking out and leaving a ratty couch, even if said couch weighed half a ton. Was there more to the Princeton departure story, like you stiffed them for something?

  2. This is why when I moved form one apartment to another in the same complex when Wolf returned, while he was happy to help for the requisite beer and pizza, he was still reluctant. Until he found out I had already move all but a few large items.

    My only issue with the “clumsy student movers” was when another Aaron moved a coffee table containing two glass pieces, which I purposely set aside to move myself, but he ignored the signs anyhow and was “helpful” in breaking the glass.

    One approved to move out where you not allowed to move again if you found a better place, even if you got approval of the new place? I expect not.

    When I moved into Comstock, or was it out of Comstock. Dan and Mary where among the help. I remember them being so helpful as to move an empty trash bucket, and being found making out on my bed when they should have been moving it. I could not yell at MAry, she was still new, so I had to yell at Dan, to which he smiled with his fucking Dan grin.

    Sounds like a rehash of Goodyear -> Comstock -> Princeton.

    I am intrigued by the “Virginia Dan”.

  3. That was a pretty serious offense considering that your bed was officially your most prized possession at the time. As I recall you insisted on hand carrying it into Princeton with the rest of us barely allowed to touch it. The incident you relate must have been out of Comstock because Dan & Mary’s first appearance together was at Comstock.
    Also – can we stipulate that Wolf should not put the UB game table up on Freecycle? Burying it in a time capsule would be a more fitting fate than to abandon it to some anonymous Internet user.

  4. This was less than a year after Princeton, so they definitely remembered. As I understand it, their grievance was in both moving out with 0 notice and leaving clean up and damage costs greater than our security deposit.

    I concur, it must have been moving out of Comstock since Mary first appeared about 5 months before we moved out.

    Tales of the Virginia Dan will come!

    Rest assurred, the UB table is sacrosant and shall never leave my possession; a condition I even endured a fight with my wife over.

  5. What was the fight about? Just turn the “SUNYAB” branding to the wall. that is what I did. What are you using the table for now?

    FYI, Louis, when I gave the table to Mike I told him he had to keep it, and never give it away. I trust Mike with this duty, given his pack-rack habits and his history with the table.

  6. The table is currently in our FL room supporting many bottles of detergent and fabric softener. The SUNYAB is proudly turned to the front. As for the fight, she once offhandedly mentioned Craigs-listing it and I flew off the handle as I normally do when my packrat tendancies are threatened.

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