I’d like to think that some of you out there are wondering how the big move went. I’d like to be able to say that everything went according to plan. However, as I stumble through life, it becomes increasingly apparent that things do not, as a general rule, go according to plan for me. On with the story … from the top:
The pre-moving days went pretty much as one would expect. I packed, put stuff in the u-Haul, and got to hang with some cool friends one last time. Helen and I left town Thursday evening, stopped in Springfield to see my uncle, and arrived in St. Louis in the middle of the night. After a brief stay with our friend Hux, we continued on our way Friday morning. We arrived in Madison, as planned, at around 6pm on Friday. This is where plans changed.
Okay, so I took a gamble. I found a place online. I spent about a week online searching various websites and communicating via e-mail with potential roommates. It was a hassle. Most of these people wanted security deposits, leases, references, interviews and stuff like that. I realize these are common practices, but still, it was a hassle. So then I find this dude whose ad specifically stated "no hassle." A flat six bills a month, everything included. I e-mail back and forth with the guy a couple times. He tells me it’s several male grad students sharing the house. He says women have lived there with no problems. They’re all laid back and friendly and all that stuff. He describes the house as nice, clean, and spacious. This house was also only a mile from work. It really did sound like a pretty good deal. And besides, if I didn’t like it, I could just move out after a month, since there was no lease. In retrospect, I really should have asked more questions.
During the trip, I started realizing that maybe I should have researched this a little more. So I was pretty nervous and hoping my new home wouldn’t suck. So we pull up to the house at 6pm on Friday. Dude comes walking down the driveway. The first thing out of my mouth was "Uh … he’s old and looks like a douchebag." Helen says we should have just driven away right then. But we didn’t. Dave (from here on out, we’ll be referring to him as The Sex Offender because that’s what he reminds me of) takes us in to show us the place. And he is indeed a douchebag. The first thing I noticed about the place is that it smelled and looked like a place where someone’s crazy old aunt might live with her two poodles that died a long time ago but she had them stuffed by her nephew/roommate who is an amateur taxidermist on parole for aggravated assault with a lawnmower blade. The Sex Offender walks into what is obviously the living room (but it’s empty) and says, "This is your room." I thought he was joking. But he wasn’t. Then he shows us the rest of the house. At this point, I’ve gone into shock and I don’t know what to do. So then we start unloading my stuff and I want to cry. There are no grad students here. This house is not nice. This house is not clean. This house is not spacious. This guy is WEIRD and CREEPY. The Sex Offender ordered two of the roommates to help unload, so that got done pretty quickly. So then Helen and I leave to go eat. We are freaking out. Helen is betting that there are no churches or schools within a mile of this place, otherwise they wouldn’t let the guy live there. We find the nearest Starbucks so we can have Internet access to find another place to live. We calm down a little and go back to the house to get my stuff. No way in hell are we staying there. I tell Sex Offender my made up excuse. I tell him that my dad didn’t know I was staying in a house with a bunch of dudes and that he is really mad and says I can’t stay there. Sex Offender isn’t happy, but doesn’t put up a fight. One of the roommates helps us load the stuff back up. We think he seems like a normal person. He starts talking to us and telling us he hates it there and that it’s weird and depressing. We decide to try to rescue him. Helen tells him we’re going to look at a place that has two rooms available (Helen has been on the phone most of the night talking to potential roommates). We give him our number and leave.
We find a Holiday Inn Express and decide to stay there. As we’re checking in, the normal guy from the house (from here on, we refer to him as The Failure, you’ll see why) calls. Actually, it wasn’t the Failure himself, but a friend. She says he doesn’t have his phone and so he’s on Instant Messenger with her telling her what to say. So she’s relaying this conversation and it’s just like I’m talking to my parents on the phone. For those who either don’t know or have forgotten, my parents are both deaf, so they have to use a relay service to make phone calls. The Failure wants us to come get him since his car is out of commission from a recent accident. Helen and I decide that the guy could be a huge loser, but he’s not creepy, so he deserves a chance. Also, we are too nice. We pick up The Failure and head toward downtown to look at this guy’s flat with two rooms available. The place is really cool and so is the guy who lives there. Since it’s Friday night and all, he has friends over. So he shows us around, we have some drinks, and we go on our merry way. Helen and I want to walk around downtown and we want to go to the Great Dane Pub. The Failure says he knows how to get to the Great Dane. We walked for what seemed like miles and then we realize that the Failure doesn’t actually know where he’s going. So we ask some people and they tell us where it is, which happens to be very close to where we started, which is now very far away. We are unhappy about this. So we finally get to the Great Dane and we’re happy that they are still serving food. We’re showing the bouncer our ID’s when The Failure tells us he doesn’t have his. Helen and I are hungry, tired, and somewhat pissed off. We have realized that this guy is living in the Sex Offender’s house still because he’s obviously too stupid to help himself get out of a shitty situation. I mean, this guy was industrial-strength stupid. He is clearly destined to be a failure at life, hence the nickname. So we get some food at Burger King and then we drop The Failure off at the Sex Offender’s house. We get back to our hotel and promptly pass out.
The next morning we wake up and start trying to come up with a plan of action. My first thought, upon waking, was "Fuck this. I’m going back to Arkansas." Then I decide that The Failure would do something like that. So I booked myself a week at an extended stay hotel, which pissed me off because it’s not cheap. I called the u-Haul place and ascertained that they did have storage available. Sweet. We had a plan. We would go to the u-Haul place and put my stuff in storage and return the trailer. We would eat lunch and then head to Chicago so Helen could make her flight home. We wouldn’t have time to go to Ikea like we had originally planned, but I was okay with that. We get in the truck and we’re ready to go. When we got to the hotel the night before, parking was limited, so I had pulled into this space knowing I would have to back out in the morning. Knowing that I am an excellent driver, this had not concerned me in the least. But I had forgotten that this was not a trip where things go smoothly. I start my truck and take my foot off the gas to put it in reverse. The engine stalls. It’s early, it’s kinda chilly, and I try again. Same thing. My truck WON’T IDLE. Now, I’ve had this problem before. Usually I just perform this tricky maneuver where I rev the engine a little and then really quickly take my foot off the gas, put the truck in gear, and put my foot back on the gas before it stalls. Then once I drive it a ways, it’s fine. But try doing this tricky maneuver while backing a trailer. A lesser woman would have had a nervous breakdown. I just cussed a lot. After a lot more cussing, some banging on the steering wheel in frustration, and some encouragement from Helen, I managed to get out of the parking lot and on the road. We get to the u-Haul place and the guys there are the nicest people you could ever expect to deal with at a u-Haul place. Then the guy tells me that since I had used the reservation system to get the trailer, I was entitled to get my first month of storage for FREE instead of having to pay $80. I wanted to hug that man. I told him this was the first thing that had gone well on this trip. I literally start tearing up. The rest of the process was pretty painless. We got my stuff put in the FREE storage unit, returned the trailer, and headed out of town. We got to Chicago with no major hurdles except when we got lost trying to find the Phillips 66 station we saw from the highway. I dropped Helen off at the airport and headed back to Madison knowing that if anything else went wrong, I would for sure have a nervous breakdown without her there.
I made it to my hotel, no thanks to the receptionist who had her head up her ass. I called for directions and she couldn’t really tell me. She was basically like "I don’t know." So I had to stop at Starbucks and MapQuest it. Then I got here and guess who was behind the desk! I told her I had a reservation, but she couldn’t find it. I told her I just made the reservation that morning. She stared at me with a vacant expression normally associated with fish. I gave her my confirmation number. She finally figured it out. She moved at the speed of a brontosaurus and clearly had to put in some effort to construct coherent sentences. When I got to my room, I checked my e-mail and passed out from the sheer exhaustion that results from having narrowly escaped the Sex Offender, having put up with and subsequently ditched The Failure, and having to deal with other fun little "obstacles."
Welcome to Madison.