On a Saturday ten days before the movers were scheduled to come, I threw my back out while packing, which is the 10th worst day to throw your back out. I rested on the couch all day Sunday and was feeling good enough by Tuesday to push a box across the floor, because I thought pushing a box couldn’t possibly cause re-injury. Wrong. So, so, completely wrong. I got halfway across the room when I felt a sharp twinge of pain in my lower back which was even worse than the first injury.
I’ve learned that after you injure your back, you’re going to stay wherever you lie down for a while, so I was grateful my medication was within arm’s reach and I was able to hobble to the couch so I had the TV to entertain me that evening. But the most depressing part was that my injury meant I’d be missing my own going away party at my co-working space the next day. It also meant packing was going to be impossible, which is why I called up my mom and was like, “Hey, can you come out here three days earlier than we’d planned and pack all my stuff for me? K, thanks!”
My mom arrived two days later and earned a jewel on her crown in heaven by packing at least half of my apartment. My friend Niki also helped out on the last day, and brought donuts and pizza, which earned her a jewel as well. We gave Niki my liquor in return since it was on the list of forbidden items for my shipping container. That’s also why I gave her my compressed air can and my fixable adhesive spray. Strange rewards, indeed. My mom and I were still finishing packing the night before the movers came, but remarkably we got it all done. And when I say “we,” I mean them. My largest contribution was shredding old medical records and receipts that weren’t worth hauling across state lines, which ended up being quite a lot of shredding, actually.
Overall the move went rather well, with only one major setback. It is by far the largest logistical event that I’ve been responsible for coordinating, and I am so, so glad it is over. These are the people and services that made it go easy, and in one case go straight to hell.
The U-Haul Store
In the past, I’ve scavenged boxes from liquor stores or other retailers for my moves, but as I get older I find I’m more willing to spend money if it will save me time and trouble. I think this is a sign of middle age. That’s why I decided to pony up some cash and buy boxes instead of touring the local dumpsters. The U-Haul store was a great destination for this. They have large boxes, medium boxes, small boxes, book boxes, portrait boxes—basically any kind of box you could want. I bought 10 pounds of packing paper for ten bucks and saved myself the trouble of hunting for old newspapers. They also have mattress covers, locks, tape and basically anything else you could need. You can order online and pick up the boxes at the store. The guy there put everything on a cart and helped me take it out to my car. U-Haul will buy back any boxes you don’t use too, so it’s ok to buy a few more than you think you’ll actually need, just to be safe.
One thing I didn’t know: fresh cardboard smells like shit, literally. More specifically, it smells like manure mixed with hay. They don’t sell Glade air fresheners in this scent for sure. On the drive back to my apartment I had to roll down my windows, and I covered the boxes with a blanket when I brought them inside to help dampen the smell a bit. Thankfully, it mostly dissipated over the next few days.
I didn’t completely give up my dumpster diving ways though. Before I’d decided to buy boxes, I completed a preliminary scouting mission of the recycling area at my apartment and hit the jackpot when I found an in-tact TV box that still had Styrofoam padding inside it. It was even for the same brand TV I have! I have a 42-inch and this box was for a 48-inch, so once I stuffed some packing paper in there it shipped fine. U-Haul charges $20 for a TV box, so I saved a decent amount of money there. Finally, having students migrating in and out of my complex in August worked in my favor for once.
I have an IKEA bookshelf/desk set that needed to be disassembled on the Saturday before my move so we’d have room to stack my boxes. Plan A was for me and my mom to disassemble it together since it requires crawling around on the floor to detach the desk and then flipping a somewhat heavy bookcase onto the floor to be taken apart. This plan was jettisoned when I hurt my back. Plan B was to ask my friends, but no one was available. Plan C was to email everyone at my co-working space, but again I had no takers. That’s when someone recommended Sweeps, which is a web site where you can hire college students to do odd jobs for you in North Carolina. This became Plan D. I had two friends who’d had good experiences with them, so I posted a job and Robert C confirmed he would come take apart my desk on Saturday at 1pm.
You know that “C” in his last name? Turns out it stands for “Cunt” because Robert the rat-fucker never showed up for the job, nor did he respond to my two texts or my voicemail. So, I called the Sweeps customer service line and left a very unhappy message with them because as I said before, I am allowing myself to feel anger these days, and oh boy, did I feel anger! If this desk did not get dissembled that day, I wouldn’t have any room to stack my boxes, and my moving plans were going to be seriously fucked up.
So, I moved onto Plan E, which was to relist the job on Sweeps to see if anyone could do it within the next few hours. Then I initiated Plan F, in which I begged for help on Twitter and Facebook. I didn’t think that would lead anywhere, but it was worth a shot. I was starting to form Plan G, which was going to consist of me knocking on my neighbors’ doors and literally begging strangers for help, when I was saved this embarrassment by Jackie, who messaged me on Facebook. Jackie was currently in England, but she’d seen my message and volunteered her husband David to help, who arrived 10 minutes later with his own Allen wrench! HIS OWN ALLEN WRENCH! I was extremely impressed and even more extremely grateful that David was able to take apart the desk for us and saved the day. Two more jewels in heaven awarded.
While I was communicating with Jackie, the Sweeps customer service guy called me back, apologized for Robert the shit-faced liar’s absence, and told me they were trying to track someone down to do the job for me. I told them that I’d found a friend of a friend to do it. They then offered me credit as an apology, but I let them know I was moving to Indiana, far out of their service range, so I didn’t have any use for credit. They emailed me again two days later to apologize for everything one more time. I would say their customer service department did the best they could, so I’d give that segment of their service an A. However, Robert the cowardly co-ed never showed up, so that part of their service definitely gets an F. He also never bothered to apologize, even though he had my mobile phone number. He embodies the worst stereotypical traits of his generation, that Millennials are lazy and that they’re so scared of personal conflict they would rather ghost someone then apologize for bad behavior. I hope you die, Robert C, painfully and slowly, preferably trapped beneath IKEA furniture.
Since capital punishment didn’t seem like a realistic option, I specifically asked that Robert be fired, which I’ve never done before in my life. However, my request was denied. Sweeps has a two-strikes policy, so he gets to fuck up someone’s plans one more time before he gets kicked to the curb. I have a friend who was fired from her job because she didn’t come into work just one time, so I’m not sure why Sweeps has lower standards than Moe’s Southwest Grill. If you don’t absolutely need someone to show up for a job, Sweeps is probably fine, but if you need a guarantee that a job will be completed at a certain time, I would suggest looking elsewhere.
Between this and two previous bad experiences with Angie’s List, I am now three for three with awful experiences trying to hire someone off the internet to complete an odd job. I doubt I will ever use a service like this again, since it seems doomed to end badly for me.
I considered three methods of moving my stuff to Indiana: 1) Renting a Budget truck and convincing one of my brothers to drive it through the Smoky mountains because I don’t have the nerves for that shit. 2) Hiring a professional moving service like Mayflower to handle everything. 3) Using a service like PODs that drops off a shipping crate you fill with your things that they’ll transport to your new address.
Number 1 was the cheapest, but I thought it would be worth the extra money not to hassle with driving a truck and arranging for a flight for whichever brother would drive it. I got a quote from Mayflower and seriously considered using their service, but they couldn’t give me a guaranteed arrival date or even a ballpark arrival date because I had such a small shipment they’d have to tack me onto another move, which they couldn’t predict logistically over a month in advance. So, I went with option 3, compared several different PODs-like services, and settled on UPack. (No relation to U-Haul.)
UPack was fantastic. Their site is easy to use and you can book everything online. They drop off the crates, which they call ReloCubes, on a specified date and then pick them up 3 business days later. In my case it was cheapest to have them dropped off on the Thursday before I moved and picked up on the next Wednesday, a longer span of time than normal because of Labor Day. I paid extra for a guaranteed delivery day at my end destination so I could book movers to unload them in Indianapolis and be sure they’d have something there to unload. My renter’s insurance only covers 10% of my stuff’s value when it’s in transit, so I purchased extra insurance just in case the truck caught on fire or tumbled off the side of a mountain. And don’t say that never happens! The week before I left, I saw a United moving truck pulled over on the opposite side of the highway with scorch marks on the side of it. I pitied the poor people whose stuff was on board.
The guy who dropped off my ReloCubes was very nice. My back was still in bad shape at that time, so I felt lucky I managed to get down the stairs to meet him at all. He helped carry a table back to my apartment which I’d used to reserve a parking space close to the building. He used a forklift to place the crates back to back in that space. One of the benefits of having Mayflower do an estimate is that they’d estimated how many cubic feet of belongings I had, which made me confident that two ReloCubes would be enough for all my stuff. One thing I didn’t know is that you need two padlocks for each cube, so I had to go buy extra locks. I’d intended to take photos and maybe videos of all this to help other people in the future, but I was so exhausted by the move that I didn’t bother.
We loaded the cubes on Tuesday and the mover in charge said he preferred ReloCubes to PODS because the ReloCubes have flat interior walls. PODS have wood beams around the edges of the crate, which means you can’t pack your belongings completely flush against the walls, which means some shifting during transit is inevitable. So, I felt rather vindicated in my choice!
Tuesday night I padlocked the cubes. Then my mom, Java Bean, and I stayed the night in a hotel. It was a little odd to think that all my earthy possessions were in a parking lot, just one bolt cutter away from being lost forever, but I might just be paranoid. You don’t have to be present when they pick up your ReloCubes, only when they drop them off, so the next day I left town with the crates still in the parking lot, taking it on faith that they’d be picked up and delivered. Thankfully, they let you track your crates online, so I verified they had been picked up. Then they were driven overnight to Dayton, OH, where they sat all day, and then were driven overnight to Indianapolis.
Overall it was a great service and I was very pleased no one in my family had to drive a truck through the mountains. Also, nothing in the crates shifted! This is probably because I hired professional movers and not a dumb college kid off of the internet.
Chapel Hill Moving Company
After my experience with Robert the unreliable, I was a bit scared the movers I’d hired might not show up. So my brain was starting to sort through what extraordinary measures I would have to take in that situation, when the movers arrived at 9:15am, well within their scheduled window. Thank God some people take their commitments seriously.
The Chapel Hill Moving Company was utterly fantastic. They sent three guys, two of whom carried stuff from my second floor apartment to the crate, while the other guy, Scott, organized everything in a way so it wouldn’t shift. Scott must me a Jenga wizard and a Tetris master because he was able to pack that crate so everything was flush with the door. It was amazing. The second crate was only two-thirds full, so he used tie-down rope to secure those items, and both crates arrived in Indianapolis without anything shifting. It pays to hire people with experience. Specifically, it pays $501, which they insisted I pay in cash because I was moving out of state after all. I was not offended.
They’d told me this in advance, so I’d gotten $500 out of the ATM a few days before, which is the most amount of money I have ever taken out of an ATM at a time, and is the maximum limit you can take out in a day. The ATM churned for several seconds longer than normal when dispensing the cash, which was a bit of a nail-biter because I knew it was going to debit my account $500 whether it gave me the cash or not, but it finally spit out 25 twenty dollar bills for me. It felt really weird to have that much money on me. I’m much more comfortable with the digital economy even if everything seems hackable these days.
College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving
For unloading my crates, I hired College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving partly because they have a cute name and partly because they were slightly cheaper than the other movers I got quotes from. Unloading requires less skill than loading, so I figured hiring less experienced help on that end was fine. These college students actually showed up, which put them miles above Sweeps right from the onset.
The people I talked to in their office to coordinate the move were really on top of their game, too. They called me two weeks in advance to get details on where the apartment was and how far it would be from the crates to the door. They also called to confirm the move two days in advance. And they told me they’d have a third person on standby just in case two guys wasn’t enough. The guys who came got the job done in just two hours. They put padding around the doorframe to prevent any accidental nicks, and they laid a rug down on the floor to prevent dirt from ruining the carpet because it had been raining earlier in the day.
The question I’m sure you’re silently asking: Were they hunks? They were not bad looking. I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say they were “hunks,” but they were good at lifting heavy objects, which was good enough for me.
It was such a relief to have all my belongings in one place again, even if they were all in boxes and left no space to walk in my living room. My brother and my mom came by the next day to help rearrange stuff, but this was the point at which I hit the wall. All the cleaning and moving and driving and back pain over the past week and a half finally became too much, so I just crawled into my bed and answered, “I don’t care,” to any questions I was asked about where to put things. I was not pleasant to be around at all. Moving really is hell.
At that point, most of my logistical challenges were over, except for one:
This will probably surprise no one, but getting new health insurance was a huge pain in the ass (for which your co-pay is $20 after you meet the deductible). I’m glad I’ve conquered my phone anxiety over the past few years because I had to make at least 40-50 phone calls arranging various facets of this move, no exaggeration. And that’s even with me using online services to avoid using the phone whenever possible. Most of the phone calls regarding health insurance were made trying to figure out:
1) Would I still be eligible for my current individual health insurance plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina after I moved?
2) If not, on what day would it become invalid?
The wording in the official plan book seemed kinda’ vague, so I called the customer support number. According to Tanisha, my plan would terminate at the end of the month after I’d paid my last premium before moving. Tanisha didn’t sound too confident, so I called back later and Latrice put me on hold for two minutes to check and said within 60 days of moving out of state. Even with these reassurances I was minorly concerned I’d be in a horrible car wreck on September 8th and all my hospital claims would be denied because I was no longer a North Carolina resident.
3) What health plans did I have to choose from in Indiana? How do I apply for these plans? How do I know if my eligibility was confirmed and coverage had started?
So many difficulties here. The web sites for health insurance companies that did business in Indiana wouldn’t show me any plans because special enrollment hadn’t begun. I then logged onto my old healthcare.gov account to see if they could show me plans, but because I had created that account the day the site (failed to) launch in 2013, my identity hadn’t been properly verified through the automatic system where you answer questions about old bank accounts, etc. Instead, I had to upload a photo of my driver’s license and wait for them to manually verify it.
I waited a week on that and decided it was never happening, which is when I remembered I’d created a second healthcare.gov account back when the site was a hot mess and I’d had problems logging in with the first account. I signed in with that account, and was able to go through the automatic identity verification and, huzzah! I could see a list of available plans and picked one from UnitedHealthcare.
Since I wasn’t eligible for a subsidy, I decided to apply to UnitedHealthcare directly instead of through healthcare.gov. Cut out the middle man, right? Well, I called them and Will told me he’d email me an application. He did not. I called the next day and talked to Greg, who went to look for Will, and came back to tell me Will was literally sleeping on the job. That’s right, he was taking a nap on his lunch break. But I was assured Will would email me an application after he woke up. He did not. I’m not sure if Will was incompetent at his job, or if he didn’t want to send me an application because, as I learned later, UnitedHealthcare is leaving the individual health insurance market in Indiana in 2017 and he didn’t want to bother onboarding someone for only three months.
Whatever the answer, I got a call from a health insurance agent briefly after that who had gotten my number from one of the sites I’d been using to try to find the plans available in my area before I’d gotten past the healthcare.gov identity confirmation challenge. He kept pushing me towards buying a short-term insurance plan to get me to the end of the year, though that put me awfully close to being in non-compliance with the government mandate and also wouldn’t cover my pre-existing condition. He finally fessed up and told me he only got a commission on short-term policies. However, he was also the one who alerted me that UnitedHealthcare was leaving the marketplace and reminded me I could just apply through healthcare.gov instead of through them directly, so I won’t hold his somewhat unethical tendencies against him.
SOOOO! I went back onto healthcare.gov and filled out an application there. I then had to prove my eligibility for special enrollment, in this case the fact that I was moving to a new state. I had to upload my official change of address notice from the post office and then I waited for them to confirm everything was ok…and I waited. No one ever told me if everything was ok, and every time I logged into healthcare.gov to check, the alert message was still there. So when it got to be two days before October, I called UnitedHealthcare directly and was like, “What’s the deal? Am I insured or what?” They verified that yes, I was insured and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I didn’t get my card until 15 days later, though I did get two letters before then letting me know my plan wouldn’t be available in 2017, which seemed like proof that I must be on a plan already, which was sort of reassuring though not in the way I would have chosen.
By the way, none of this is meant to reflect poorly on the Affordable Care Act. I love the ACA. It’s had more of a positive direct impact on my life than any other piece of legislature since, I dunno, the 19th amendment? The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA)? The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 ranks pretty high too. And that time Mitch Daniels got Indiana to observe Daylight Saving Time was probably the best thing a Republican has done all century. (Side question: What’s your favorite piece of American legislation and why?) If not for the ACA, I probably wouldn’t have been able to move back to Indiana at all. As far as I know, Indiana did not have a high-risk insurance pool like the one I was part of in North Carolina, which was the only reason I had health insurance as a self-employed person with a pre-existing condition. Before the ACA, I thought I might have to live in North Carolina for the rest of my life or get a corporate job out of state if I wanted to move, because I had no other way to get insurance.
And really, if I’d just gone through healthcare.gov from the start I could have saved myself most of the trouble. I just had such bad memories of that site from their disastrous launch in October 2013 that I had avoided using it if at all possible. I’m happy to say it works a lot better now.
Other Odds and Ends
There were also lots of little things I had to do, like shutting off and turning on utility services, updating my car insurance and renter’s insurance, transferring my prescriptions, closing my PO Box, domesticating my LLC, setting up a UPS Mailbox in Indiana in advance so I’d have a street address I could use on my LLC domestication papers since they don’t accept PO Boxes (which involved four phone calls, a fax machine, and a notary public), getting my internet working, registering to vote in a small period of time available to do so, updating my address in a million places, sending out new W9 forms to my clients, getting a new driver’s license, updating my car’s registration, and several other things on my long checklist.
All of which is to say, you may not want to initiate all of this two months before you plan to move like I did. It’s a ton of work. Having more lead time is preferable. That said, it can be done, and I’m glad to be back in Indiana. I plan to stay here for several years because OH MY GOD I do not want to go through this again anytime soon, especially with a bad back (which is better now, thanks for asking). If you’re planning a similar move, good luck to you! You’re going to need it.