As contributed by Madoline Hatter
We moved not too very long ago. It is an event that has made a deep imprint on my mind and I do not believe that it will ever leave me. We moved from the house we had lived in for most of my children’s lives to a different part of town. Not only did we have a whole lot of memorabilia from all the years of the kids growing up but we also had my mother living with us. She still carried things from her life before living with us that she cherished. She had her own living quarters full as well as the rest of the house. The attic was full as well. We did not even know where to start.
We decided since it was not just a cut and dried move that we should do it ourselves and go through some of this stuffand perhaps eliminate some of it. We are not what you would call a minimalist family. I have no idea how we accumulated so many incidental items but it should not have surprised me as I am not a big thrower-awayer. I have learned to hate this about myself, indecision about what to throw away and what to keep has always plagued me. I blame it on my mother who raised me that way, and was after all my role model, so the two of us in a house together again was not a good idea when it came to a move. We had to get a virtual army of friends to come and help us even scratch the surface of the packing. Some of those people who came to help just plunged right in and started throwing things in boxes while some of the others stood with stupefied looks of amazement and did not even know where to begin. One of those people was me. I shudder to think of what our friends were thinking but not saying, at least to our faces. It was a nightmare packing. I really do not think we ever did finish packing, I think there were probably many things that just got left behind in the attic or a nook or cranny here and there. The new owners were probably dismayed as well with our stuff. But anyway, our new home was not ready to be moved into quite yet so we took truck after truck to a storage unit. It was one of their largest units and it was packed to the rafters. It was a little terrifying watching my son, nephew, and some of their young friends trying to fit it all in and wondering if they were going to be safe. I had to quit watching. Only just a few weeks later we had to go and try and figure out how we wedged things in there to get them out again for the move to the new home. We again were counting on the goodness of friends and their personal trucks as well as a U-Haul vehicle we had rented. Some of those people we have not seen since our move occurred, hmm, makes you think. Anyway, back to the U-Haul. I am sure that many of you have rented U-Hauls over the years with great success as have we. This was not one of those times. This particular trip in the medium sized U-Haul that was filled with furniture and boxes was being undertaken by my nephew who at the time was nineteen. It was not a far drive from the storage unit to the new house so I let my thirteen-year-old son ride along to help him start unloading. I was going to be following along shortly to meet them. When I arrived at the new house they were nowhere to be found and neither one of them had a cell phone so I could not call. To say the least, I got just a little bit anxious and started to retrace the route I believed they would take. As I was going back I finally received a call from my nephew telling me that they had broken down and had the U-Haul parked in a parking lot near where I was driving. Luckily for me my nephew was smart enough not to say anything else until I arrived, because this is not the norm for him. When I got there and inquired as to the problem he then told me that the brakes went out on the U-Haul…. Now, I do not know you but I can only imagine that your reaction may have been identical to mine when your nineteen-year old nephew and your thirteen-year-old son were riding in a vehicle you had rented and the brakes went out. Then my nephew proceeded to share with me the turn of events as they happened. Keep in mind that we live in a very large metropolitan area as I am telling you this story because it indeed does make a difference but either way it is horrific. He told me that as they were coming down this particular six lanes, two-way street they were on that the traffic started to come to a halt and he applied his brakes to find there were none. In a semi panicked yet semi clear thinking state of mind he saw there was an entrance coming up to a large parking lot which he proceeded to turn into going approximately forty miles per hour. The heavily filled truck then did what most heavily filled box type trucks would do; it went up on two wheels, leaning towards the driver. My nephew then informed me that he opened the door and stuck his leg out to try and balance the truck! (As you recall two paragraphs back I said it was not the norm for my nephew to be too smart, but we love him.) Only by God’s great grace did the truck not turn over onto my nephew’s outstretched leg with my son’s unconscious body on top of his. (You see I have a gift; I can see all the worst case scenarios in my head immediately upon hearing a story.) The truck did (by God’s great grace) balance out and land back on all four tires and because of the tilting helped it to slow down enough to come to a stop before hitting one of the parked vehicles or the building. My son was grinning ear from ear as he was excitedly telling me his version of the events. And the memory of something my dad used to say to us quickly came into my mind. Did you ever hear anyone say they were going to slap that grin right off your face? I did not because I was in shock but I quickly told my son it was not a funny matter! Needless to say… I called U-Haul in my most controlled uncontrolled voice. They of course did not understand how this happened because all of their equipment was in top condition. In a tone that suggested it must have been something we had done to the truck in the last two or three hours we had possession of it that caused this truck to become a death machine. We waited for the U-Haul truck fixer person to show up. It was not too long before we saw a huge semi-truck sized vehicle show up in the parking lot with U-Haul Service on the side. He was a Hispanic fellow, very pleasant, who at first tried to drive the truck. By the look of utter amazement and the shocked look in his eyes I take it he did not believe us when we told him it had no brakes. He then proceeded to look under the hood, briefly, and told us the brakes must be leaking. I just gave him a blank look and sat waiting to see what he was going to say next. His next comment was a hair raiser for me. He stood there with a perfectly serious look on his face when he told us that either my nephew or I were going to have to drive this truck down the street to the U-Haul rental center that was close to where we were. I tried to be controlled when I said, “I do not think that is going to happen, it has no brakes, remember?” He stated that someone had to so I suggested it was him. He grinned at me and said in his broken English, “Well then someone has to drive my truck.” By this time my head was about to explode with a mixture of adrenaline and just a tad bit of anger. Before I even gave it much thought I said, “Okay, I will drive your truck.” Do you recall me saying a little earlier in this story that it was the size of a semi? Yep. So I put my nephew and my son in my vehicle while the gentleman got into the brakeless truck and handed me the keys to his truck. All the while he is grinning as if to say, “I can’t wait to see this.” I climbed up into the cab of that truck and started her or him up and then looked at the gear shift. I knew perfectly well how to drive a standard but I was not too sure in this thing which gears were which so I called him over. He gave me the general run down and I said fine. He was still standing there very amused. As I started it up and put it into first and moved out his look turned a bit anxious, like it just hit him, “What have I done?” He jumped into the U-Haul and slowly went around me as if to say follow me. When I made my turn to go out of the parking lot I made it a bit too short and needed to back up. When I tried to put it into reverse it would not go so I put it in park, jumped out of the vehicle and flagged him out of the U-Haul. He had failed to mention that there was some kind of switch that needed to be initiated before putting it into reverse. I think he was thrilled believing that I had given up my foolish notion of driving the truck and was dismayed when I simply asked him about reverse. He still was not taking me seriously and to tell you the truth I was practically numb with adrenaline and anger (not good to be in this state of mind in a gigantic truck by the way) at this point. I pulled that rig out on the main road and even managed to take a wide right turn in traffic to get to the U-Haul place. As I pulled up into the lot both the gentleman who gave me this truck driving gig and my nephew and son were both standing there with their mouths wide open. I jumped out of the big monster of a truck, handed him the keys, and said, “You don’t mess with my babies.” I could go on about what went on inthe U-Haul store and how I asked for the reasons why they did not have the courtesy to send a tow truck and what if they had killed my babies, and who was responsible for this and who was going to unload and re-load my truck but I will not. But I can tell you that by the time we got home and I came to my senses I almost passed out and to this day I cannot tell you how I drove that truck. It was an out of body and mind experience that I will always remember. And this is just one of the events in this move that confirms the fact that next time, if that ever happens, I will hire movers.