Friends! Compatriots! Rapscallions! And the rest of you sly scallywags: lend me your eyes!
For today, I have a ghastly tale filled with spine-tingling drama and harrowing details centered around one of the most dreadful experiences of life: moving.
But before I hop into the main story, a brief prologue is needed.
In late May, my wife (Hannah) accepted a new job at Castleton University in Vermont. Which meant we were moving.
Little did we know that VT is amidst a housing crisis. And the only available apartments in the area are 1 bedrooms, or homes specifically for seniors.
This obviously makes searching for a home much harder.
But we got lucky when I joined a FB group and asked about apartments.
So the first week in June, we packed up the car and drove to VT to look at what was available (as well as look at local daycares).
We saw three apartments. And decided to take one in the heart of Rutland; it was a little pricier than what we wanted, but in this instance, we couldn’t be picky.
That night Hannah found an apartment in Granville, NY (just over the border) that we decided to look at on our way back to Corning.
It would still be a 20 minute drive for her to work, so why not go check out this 3 bedroom?
As we’re leaving Granville, Hannah tries to message the owner on FB, and the apartment has now been changed to rented vs available.
Halfway back to Corning, Hannah decided to see what was available in Granville on Zillow.
She found one we both liked, and we decided to start the buying process.
Thus concludes the necessary prologue.
Now on to the main story.
Hannah and I decide to gamble on this lovely home in Granville. We drive back out there three days later to look at the place and a few others.
We make an offer on the home on June 9th.
Closing in NY can take 60 days or more. But we’re on a tight window.
Hannah’s job starts on 8/15. Ideally we’d want to close quickly. Through negotiations, we’re told the earliest the sellers can be out is 7/27.
With that date in mind, Hannah, our son (Revan), and I sit around waiting for Godot to finally say that we can close and move in on July 27th.
We did finally get word about closing, five days before the 27th on the 22nd.
So I go into turbo mode to get all the utilities swapped, the U-Haul and movers ordered, and get work things for myself lined up for the move.
In less than two days everything is set.
Thankfully, we had slowly packed all of July. And now we only had to finish the everyday essentials like kitchen, bathroom, and living room.
We had a plan for the week:
- Hannah’s mom and dad would come from NH to help watch Revan while we packed up the rest of the house.
- Tuesday night we’d pack the whole place up and then sleep on air mattresses.
- We’d be ready to go on Wednesday morning, leaving around the time Revan would nap after breakfast.
But on the morning of July 25 (Monday), Hannah wakes up to a not-so-fun email: the daycare we had reserved for Revan to attend tells us they can no longer take him because the state of VT changed the student/teacher ratio.
Something smelled fishy about that
So I called three other daycares to see if this was the case. They all said no.
We’re days from moving, Hannah is two weeks from starting work, and we have just lost childcare.
Hannah’s bummed — truly upset and worried she’s made a huge mistake taking this job.
So I call our #2 choice to see if they have any availability. Luckily they have three spots open. Phew. That was a close one.
But there were more disruptions to come later that day.
I complete my work for the day and finish packing up my office in the early afternoon when I get a call from U-Haul.
They call to tell me that I’ll need to drive to another location to get our truck and trailer on Tuesday, a place that’s 45 minutes down the road.
Alright. Fine. 1.5 hours isn’t a big deal the day you move out and finish packing. Right?
I felt like I handled the stress and disruptions to our plans well that day. I even wrote about that in my journal that night.
Though I felt like I handled my stress well, Revan was another story. Throughout the day on Monday, Revan became more and more uneasy.
He saw us taking things off walls, handed him from grandma to grandpa every few minutes, and all these boxes were in his way so he couldn’t play.
Change was happening right in front of him and it confused him.
That night, Revan did not sleep well. And after the 2nd waking at God only knows what time, my brain decided the intelligent thing to do was “get a hotel room because none of y’all are sleeping if you sleep on an air mattress tomorrow night.”
Tuesday morning, I called and booked a hotel for that night. Then drove down to PA, grabbed the truck and the trailer, and drove back to load our home into the U-Haul.
As I’m driving up I-99, I’m feeling pretty good about how I’m handling all this unplanned added stress.
That is until I return to our apartment complex and discover that half the people who live in our complex are home from work that day.
Damn it. This makes it a not-so-easy task to park the truck and trailer.
Of course, I haven’t backed up a trailer in years. Probably 20 years. I know what to do. But I’m rusty on all the details.
That rust is so thick that I place our newly rented truck and trailer into a precarious position; I’m blocking a neighbor into her spot and I’m inches from plowing over the mailboxes.
I have 10-15 feet of clearance in front of me. And less than 5 feet behind me. I have no idea how to get this trailer out.
All that stress I felt I had handled so well begins to compound.
I can feel it swelling like a tsunami into my mind. I can feel my body begin to buzz, not in a good way.
So I make a decision.
Fuck it. I don’t want to do this. I was an idiot to think I could put a car on a trailer and drive it across The Empire State. All of this is too much for me.
So I called U-Haul and had them send a tow truck to save me.
I then returned the trailer to U-Haul the same day.
Okay. All of this hullabaloo took way too much time. Plus, we had to eat a $275 fee for the towing.
Fine. Whatever. I just want to get the fuck out and move.
With the movers arriving in less than an hour, I open the truck and pull out the hand trucks. As I take them up the stairs, I feel a burning sensation in my arm.
A sharp and agonizing pain erupts from my bicep.
Motherfucker: I know what that pain is from. And things are about to get worse for me.
I’m not “My Girl” Macaulay Culkin allergic to bees, but I’m allergic to bees. Enough that when I get stung, I swell up, A LOT.
(For context: That night, my bicep, elbow, and forearm were 1/2 inch larger, not the gains you want.)
Hannah heard my scream and immediately walked to the nearby gas station to get Benadryl.
Now I was Hulk-level pissed and even more stressed out. Because I knew my arm would swell, and driving with that inflated fucker for two hours was the last thing I wanted out of this day.
Whatever. Swollen forearm or not, it was time to get the final things packed up before the movers arrived.
So far, we had taken every little hit with this move and continued to move forward. Sure, an added expense for a trailer I am not using and had to have towed sucked. But it was gonna be more stressful hauling the damn thing.
It meant Hannah would be a bit more stressed being the only person in the car while Revan sat in the back (and would probably scream and cry) for a two plus hour drive to the hotel.
Hannah worked to calm me down as much as she could and continued to remind me we were hours away from this all being over.
The movers roll up a few minutes later and start packing our stuff.
Oh man, these dudes were great. They had everything packed up easily within three hours.
They might have had things packed up sooner if I had been able to help at all in the third hour.
But the final big thorn in our side was about to present itself an hour before our bank closed.
Around 4:15 pm, our attorney called and gave me the routing information for wiring our closing costs.
Hannah and I have used Betterment for our banking for the last year or so. Betterment started in 2008 as a digital investment service. I’ve used them for the little bit of investing I’ve done since 2015.
They started their standard, everyday banking operations a couple of years ago. And since Hannah and I already had separate investment accounts with them, it was a no-brainer to shift our banking to Betterment.
We’ve loved using them.
Until two weeks ago, that is.
So what happened?
Once I got the routing information, I planned to handle this transfer via their mobile app. But I couldn’t find the button for external transfers. So I call their customer service number to see if they could help.
Little did I know that Betterment — a 100% ONLINE ONLY BANK — does not do wire transfers.
Yes, dear reader, I’m sure you’re as utterly dumbfounded reading that as I was to hear it.
How in the fuck does ANY bank, much less an online only bank, not do wire transfers?
Well now I’m livid. My mind is swirling with cortisol, adrenaline, and a hundred different “what if” stories.
So I get our attorney on the phone to tell her what’s up.
All Betterment says we can do is write a check. They can’t wire anything because they’re only set up for ACH payments.
Even after having their customer service representative put my attorney and I on hold for nearly 40 minutes, they still have no other solution than to “write a personal check.”
Yea, that’s not how the lending bank for a home loan wants to be paid. They want a wire transfer or a certified check. And you can’t get a certified check from an online bank. Nor did it seem this particular online bank could do a wire transfer.
At this point the movers were done. And I had to pay them so they could go home for the day.
I could feel my body vibrating like I was standing in front of the loudest subwoofer at a Metallica concert. And the reverb from my adrenals were causing my kidneys to rumble like Eddie Munson’s in there playing the most epic guitar solo in history.
So I pay the movers and send them on their way.
I now have to call Hannah, who is 2.5 hours down the road at our hotel, to tell her everything going on with the bank.
At that moment, I’m feeling like an absolute failure. It feels like the world is out to get us.
And I can’t help but wonder what I’ve done to piss the universe off this much.
There’s at least another dozen grey hairs growing on my head by now. My brain is flooded with cortisol. I can feel my kidneys throbbing every second.
All of our shit is stuffed into a 20 foot U-Haul. I’m hungry. I’m sweating from the 88 degree heat. And I still have to drive two plus hours in a truck with no cruise control or Bluetooth for music.
Oh yea, and I still have to inform Hannah of what seems to be our only solution: to ask my mother-in-law if she can go to her bank and get a certified check for the amount we need (and we’ll write her a check to pay her back).
Great. Cool. Time to dial up my wife and tell her that I have basically screwed us out of buying a home.
Hannah does her best to calm me down. She’s way more in control of her emotions than I am. So I fill her and her mom in on what seems to be our only option.
This whole thing is feeling hopeless. And I begin to wonder if we’re gonna lose the house now. Like is the seller or bank gonna say, “nope, we’re backing out of this deal. Enjoy living out of your U-Haul!”
As my brain weaves these terrifying what-ifs, my phone rings. It’s the attorney. I tell Hannah I’ll call her back.
“Robbie, we have a solution. Be here at the office tomorrow morning by 9am and write a personal check to our firm and we’ll pay the closing costs out of our escrow.”
Hours of mental terror evaporated in a matter of seconds. I could still feel the reverb from Eddie’s shredding in my kidneys. But at least for now, my brain could inform my adrenals they could dial it back from 11.
Everything was going to be okay.
The truck was packed.
Both cars had been driven to the hotel.
Revan only screamed for the last 30-45 minutes of the ride to the hotel.
We had a solution for paying for everything and could move into our home the next day.
So I locked our apartment door one last time and hit the road.
I arrived at the hotel, took a shower, scarfed down a sandwich from Panera, and passed out in bed at 7:45 pm.
The next morning I was on the road by 7:15 am, and arrived before 9 am at the attorney’s office in Glens Falls, NY.
We closed on our first home that day at 4:30 pm, and moved in that night.
No other snafus happened between 9 am and 4:30 pm that day.
Unless of course you count that our seller had not completely packed up her home when we went to our final walkthrough at 3 pm, and came back after closing to look for her cat who had decided to run away (she didn’t find him until near midnight).
As I sit here and write this I would love to wrap this up with some lessons learned.
Humans, after all, learn from stories. And there are probably some lessons to be learned here.
But I’m not going to focus on any lessons. Because sometimes it’s good to read a story for the story’s sake.
And this story is one we will never forget.
If we do move again, and I can tell you I feel my adrenals revving up just thinking about that possibility, we are selling everything we own except for our books and starting from complete scratch.