It began at 4 a.m. as we departed home and headed south on 221 then north on Rte. 8 for Christiansburg and I-81. The final phase of the move from Arlington to Floyd.
We expected a long day. We had no idea how long it would be.
We’d been away from the Washington area to almost forget the traffic but it came home to roost 35 miles out as both lanes slowed to a crawl at Haymarket, then came to a dead stop near Gainesville. We arrived at the Storage USA on 10th Street in Arlington shortly after 9 a.m.
By 9:45, the movers from Movers USA still hadn’t arrived so I checked voice mail and found a message saying they were on their way. This should have been the first hint of what was to come. We were in Arlington, waiting to meet the movers at our storage units, but they called our home 300 miles away instead of my cell phone (they had the number). I called the cell phone number they left and discovered they were lost.
“We’re on Glebe Road,” the move foreman said. I talked him through getting from Glebe to 10th Street and the two moving vans pulled into the Storage USA parking lot at 10:20. Already 90 minutes behind schedule.
We had two units packed to the ceilings and some of the crew of four set about moving layers of boxed belongings to the truck while others wrappws the furniture, HDTV and other large pieces in bubblewrap, then securing them with boxes and tape. I had hoped, foolishly it turned out, that the job would take no longer than three or four hours. Seven hours later, everything was packed into just one truck. We stopped for dinner at a KFC, dropped the second truck at a rest area on I-66, and headed to Floyd with one of the crew a passenger in our Liberty and hopes to reach Floyd between 10 and 11.
We had another passenger named Murphy.
First, the heavily-loaded truck had trouble on the many uphill grades on I-81 and our trip often slowed to 50 mph or less.
Then, South of Stanton, an illuminated information sign warned of an accident blocking the left lane 32 miles ahead. No problem, I though. The accident should be cleared by the time we arrived and even if it wasn’t, the right lane would be open.
Wrong. Traffic came to a halt eight miles north of Arcadia. We sat for an hour. Sitting for any length of time in a traffic jam is maddening but it gets worse when you’re sitting with four movers and a truck that costs $115 an hour with the clock running.
So we came through Floyd at 12:30 a.m. When we pulled onto Greenbriar Lane, I stopped at the entrance to our steep uphill driveway and told the moving van driver to wait at the bottom of the hill while I turned on the floodlights at the top and turned the Liberty around to use the headlights to provide extra illumination.
“Most truck drivers back up the hill so they can unload with the rear of the truck facing the garage entrance,” I told him. He nodded like he understood.
He didn’t. I had just finished turning on all the lights when I turned to see the truck slogging up the long driveway nose first. He spun his wheels at the turn at the top of the hill, creating the first of what would become many deep ruts before the long night ended.
Somebody, the foreman I think, told the driver to proceed in the dark before I could light the driveway and before anyone from the company took the time to walk the stretch of road to find the best way to proceed.
At the top, the foreman told the driver to try and turn the 26-foot moving van around. That’s near impossible in daylight with people who know the driveway. After three tries the foreman ordered the driver out of the van and took over himself.
First he almost backed over the sprinkler head at the top of our well in the rock garden alongside the driveway. Then he got the truck sideways in the driveway and slid the right rear wheels into the rock garden — dangerously close to the well. The more we tried to get him to stop, the more he tried rocking the truck back and forth until the wheels were mired in the dirt and mud. It took him 20 minutes to admit he was stuck.
So they opened the rear of the truck 50 feet from our garage and started unloading. Amy looked up a truck tow service in Christiansburg and called them. They rousted a driver out of bed while the movers shifted the contents of the truck into our garage and house.
The tow truck driver arrived as they finished the unloading and shook his head.
“Didn’t walk the driveway first, did he?” No, Amy said. He didn’t.
At least the tow truck driver knew what he was doing and freed the truck but the crew did not have the cash to pay him so Amy coughed up $200 with a promise of reimbursement from Movers USA.
“Damage to driveway,” the tow truck operator wrote on the receipt.
By the time this Shakespearean tragedy came to an and we had gone an hour over the estimated time for the move, we owed $115.00 more than the deposit previously paid but the moving foreman offered to waive the extra hour in exchange for us waiving damage to the driveway and possible damage to the well.
Amy declined and said we would take the matter up with the moving company. The movers departed our driveway at 5 a.m. — 25 hours after our descent into moving hell started the morning before.
The last of our stuff is in our new home. True, everything is still boxed and wrapped and placed loosely where we think they belong and we can’t park our cars in the garage. because of the many boxes that need to be unpacked in there .
We won’t know until the light of day how much work will be needed to repair the driveway, the damaged garden or if the well was damaged by the loose nut behind the wheel of the moving van. It’s still dark and we’re tired and ready for bed.
This was our first experience with Movers USA. It will be our last.