(See Moving Horror Stories and Advice Part I and Part II.)
In fact, I went into this move feeling much more relaxed... nonchalant even... Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.
Spending my 4th of July Unpacking Boxes
In hindsight, it was sort of ironic and funny. My wife saw a post on one of those navy spouse groups on Facebook that advised telling your packers to only put things from ONE room in each box. My wife read that and said, "well, DUH!" We didn't see any need to tell our packers that. We've never seen that happen before and it defies logic why the packers would do it.
Famous last words.
There were several boxes with a smorgasbord of contents gathered from all over the house. For example, one box labeled "master bedroom" had the bathroom scale from our master bathroom and shot glasses from our home theater on the OPPOSITE end of the house (I collect shot glasses from my foreign port calls and other travels). One box had something from EVERY room in the house.
I have two theories.
1. Look at the way the truck driver and loaders work on the last day. They take all the pieces of furniture and boxes and pick and choose the different sizes and shapes to put them into the truck to fill up all the space like a jigsaw puzzle. MAYBE the packers learned the same thing, and they were trying to fill up the boxes by picking different sized objects from around the house to fill up each box like they fill up the truck.
2. On one of our previous moves, we had the experience of being "balloon packed" because the movers were paid by the box, so they would put ONE plastic toy in a box and fill it up with packing paper. THAT move didn't fit on ONE truck. So we casually asked our packers this time around if they were paid by the box. They said no, they were paid by the hour. Hmmm... So MAYBE they used the tactic of walking back and forth across the house to pick random objects from different rooms in order to make the packing take longer and get paid more.
Even in boxes that stayed within one room, the packer's methodology seemed all madness. In the master bathroom, you'd think the packer would put all the stuff from my wife's sink and cabinets into a box, and then put all the stuff from my sink and cabinets into a box. Nope. She put a layer of stuff from my wife's sink, then a layer of stuff from my sink, then a layer of stuff from my wife's cabinets, then a layer of stuff from my cabinets, and so on and so forth...
Another new experience we had this time around: They UNpacked and REpacked all our bins. In previous moves, we have found that it helps if we pre-pack a bunch of stuff in plastic tubs with lids. The movers just throw some tape on it and throw it on the truck. On the destination side, it makes it a lot easier to sort and put stuff away because we just put the bins where they belong on shelves in the garage, etc. Plus, things that I want to be able to quickly find on the other side are easier to pick out of the hoards of boxes when they're in a specific color and size bin.
Not this time.
They claimed they "had" to pack the contents of all our bins in boxes. Again, this could be another part of getting paid by the hour - unpacking and repacking our bins took quite a while.
For example, they took my big plastic bin full of scuba gear, put the scuba gear into cardboard boxes, then filled up the plastic bin with flower pots and stands and wrapped it up in paper and taped it. Really???
In another case, I put my stuff from my office at work like the special hole-punch for my day-timer in a special plastic bin so I would be able to easily find it on the other end. It also had my binders of past evals and fitreps I've written for guys who have worked for me so when one asks for a letter of recommendation, I can pull out the binder and review what I wrote in their fitreps. Of course, one of my former JOs emailed last week to ask me for a letter of recommendation, but I have NO idea where my binders full of evals and fitreps are because they unpacked the bins and packed them all in poorly-labeled boxes.
Here's one that left us scratching our heads in disbelief. We had a plastic bin full of picnic-ware - paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, etc. They emptied the bin and put all the picnic stuff into a box... and then they took our dirty lawn leaf-blower/leaf-sucker from the garage and put it in the box on top of these paper plates and things that we would have liked to stay CLEAN and sanitary so we could use it to EAT. We ended up dumping all that picnic stuff in the trash.
Okay, quiz time. Let's see if you get this one right. Pretend you're a mover. You're packing up someone's household goods. In their closet in a spare room, you find and place into a box a whole bunch of board games, a chess board, a few boxes of photographs, and 3 errant power cords. What should you write on the box so the family knows what to expect is inside it?
a. Spare Room Closet
b. Board Games
d. Closet Games & Photos
If you chose e. Wires, you would do well as a mover apparently. Yep, we opened a box labeled "wires" that was 90% full of board games and photo boxes.
So I am now going to offer all of you the same advice my wife read on that navy spouse Facebook group:
Tell your movers to only pack items from ONLY ONE room in each box.
In hindsight, I think it might have made things easier for us on the destination side if we had taken a pad of yellow stickies and put them on each room or closet door or cabinet door telling the movers what we specifically want written on the outside of the box, like "Theater Closet" or "Master Bathroom."
I would say, "Oh well, we'll know better next time," but hopefully there won't be a next time. I've got 19 years of service now, so by the time this shore tour is complete, I can retire and stay in one place while my kids go through high school.