By Rob Sussman, Delaware 105.9
Moving is never an easy task, especially when any real distance is involved. By the nature of the business I’m in, it’s something I’ve done before. Picking up the U-Haul and moving all of your stuff by hand with you and a few friends is an awful way to spend the better part of a day. Nobody is happy. Everyone is sore. Now, you have to drive the van.
So when I accepted the job as the afternoon drive host at Delaware 105.9, I immediately set about making the situation as easy as possible for me. I found two moving crews–one in Burlington, Iowa, where I was moving from, and Milford, DE, where I was moving to. The two towns are 998 miles away from each other. These crews were going to save me the manual labor that I wasn’t convinced my wife and I could do alone. I had never hired people like that before, but I figured that by the very nature of the move itself, the cost would be worth it.
I was confident enough to drive the U-Haul. I had found an apartment I could afford. I had the moving crews lined up. The moment my wife and I landed in the United States after our beautiful honeymoon in Mexico (14 months late, but who’s counting?) we started packing. Took a few weeks, but we got it done. I finished up my previous job. I spent a week visiting friends and family. I was relaxed. I was ready to go. I was ready to do this move. All of our ducks were in a row.
When the allegorical “zero day” arrived, things couldn’t have gone better. The crew in Iowa packed us up in two hours and we hit the road immediately–my wife (and our cat) in her car, me in the U-Haul, towing my car on a trailer behind it. It was a Monday. We were heading to my hometown–Cleveland, Ohio–to spend a week with family before we could move into our place that Friday. The drive couldn’t have gone better. Great weather the entire way over through the flat plains of the midwest. Illinois. Indiana. Ohio. Smoothest sailing possible. Day one couldn’t have gone better.
We spent a lovely week with family. It was relaxing. Everything I needed to get myself mentally prepared for a nearly 400 mile drive that Friday. When I left Cleveland at around 4am, I was full of energy and ready for the day ahead.
If you’re not familiar with the geography of Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania , you should know that it’s eccentric to say the least. On the west side of Cleveland, it is the expansive flatland of the midwest. Few hills, mostly corn, wide stretches of flat, entirely straight road. But about 20 minutes outside of Cleveland on the eastern side, the geography abruptly changes. Suddenly, it’s appalachia, suddenly, you’re on steep hills, you’re on winding turns and you’re driving a U-Haul and towing your car and you’re trying not to lose your lunch when the tow/haul kicks in and your engine starts redlining on the way down the hill. It was like that for almost ten hours. Ten hours and six stops for gas. Total gas bill was nearly $500–just to add insult to injury. Next time I have to drive a U-haul while towing a car through Pennsylvania, I just won’t. I’m just not going to do that again. No way.
So we finally pull in to Milford. I’m excited. We did it, we moved across the country successfully. We were on the east coast. I pull into the apartment complex we rent at. We start going through the lease agreement and paperwork. I’m exhausted, but things are moving along. I just want to get in the place and unpack. It’s all I want. We want to take our cat out of his carrier and let him roam free. I place my checkbook on the table next to me, anticipating to pay my first month’s rent, security deposit, and pet fee. We continue going through paperwork. Eventually, the landlady looks at my checkbook. She looks at me and says,”I’m sorry, but we’re going to need a cashier’s check or money order.”
Ok. Fine. That’s whatever. I’ll just hit up the local branch of the national and wide reaching bank I already bank at. Surely there won’t be an archaic, 1930’s law that makes it nearly impossible for a bank to operate in all 50 states because of arbitrary geographical limitations on branching. After a quick Google search, fears I didn’t even know I had came to bear. The 1933 National Banking act claimed another victim, me. The nearest branch of my bank was in New Jersey.
So my wife and I drove around to a few other banks to see if they offer money orders to non-members. Eventually we figure out that Wal-Mart will allow us to get a money order in the amount we need. We’ve got about an hour to do this at this point, so I send my wife across town to get the utilities put in our name at city hall. I stand in line and wait for far longer than I expected. I finally get up to the guy. Put in my card. Declined.
My card was shut off from my bank, which, once again, is out of state. I frantically give them a call, giving up my place in line in the process. Eventually I get them to take the hold off of my account and authorize the transaction. I get back in line and go through the waiting game yet again. I go up to the same tired cashier. I make my order. I put in my card. Declined. Again.
It was at this moment, this horrible moment of agony as the clock ticked down towards closing time at the apartment, on a Friday, that my wife called me. She was in tears. They needed both of us to be there to put the utilities in our name. I called the apartment, they needed the money and the utilities in our name to give us the keys. They closed in 20 minutes. We were 300 miles away from family, we know nobody in the area. I’ve got a U-Haul and a cat.
I finally managed to get the money after another conversation with my bank. They had to monitor the transaction over the phone. 10 minutes left to close. My wife found a pet-friendly hotel. We walk outside of Wal-Mart, torrential snowfall. It went from a few flakes to absolutely undriveable. We leave the parking lot–slowly–in my wifes car. As we do, we get a call from the complex. Like an absolute angel descending from the clouds, this lovely woman told us that we would be allowed in the complex if we could get them the money–which I had in my hand–by close, which was at this point five minutes away.
It was close. We got there and put the money in their hands two minutes until close. They gave us the keys and we collapsed on the floor of our place immediately in exhaustion. I can definitively say it was the worst single day of my life, made worse by an extremely simple mistake. I missed exactly one line in the initial lease agreement they had sent through email and while I thought I had my ducks in a row, just one was out of place.
I learned a lot. I learned about the good in people, the apartment managed called and begged the owners to let us in and make an exception. She didn’t have to do that. She did. I learned to read the fine print. I learned to be thankful for stable moments in life. I learned that you should never, ever, drive a U-Haul through Pennsylvania. If I ever get that idea again, I invite everyone and anyone to call my show, 3-6 on Delaware 105.9 and remind me of the sound that van made when Tow/Haul switched on when I went downhill.
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