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With applications sent out to various school districts, Annie had been packing her household for weeks getting ready for the inevitable move. When she accepted a teaching position at a rural district, she set out on her own to Mason City, Iowa to find an apartment; picking a place without the assistance of her parents - without her dad’s help.
I was so proud of her and at the same time found myself wallowing in a bit of self pity. She’s all grown up now, maybe she doesn’t need her dad anymore. Then came the call, “When can you come help me move, Dad?” she asked. I smiled. Maybe I’ve still got it - this Dad thing. “We can come down Sunday, after church.” I told her.
I called U-haul to reserve a trailer and found out that there weren’t any U-haul stores open along our route to pick up on Sunday. We would have to get the trailer in Duluth and pull it down to Winona. I priced multiple options; whether to bring it back to Duluth, taking advantage of the local rental discounts, or pay more to drop it off in Mason City or Waterloo. I told the operator I would have to check some things and call back.
We would need the trailer for two days. A local rental would be $60 for two days, $90 to leave it in Mason City, or $119 in Waterloo; which would be handy as I could use the trailer to help our oldest daughter, Sydney, with a project. You know that old adage; two birds, one stone.
I called U-haul back. The kid on the line confirmed the various prices being held in the “quote” file for a one-way rental. “And how much if I return it to Duluth?” I asked. “$139,” he told me. He threw down the gauntlet - I accepted his challenge. The U-haul sparring began.
“It can not possibly be more to return it to Duluth.” I said. He confirmed, “Yeah, it is. It will be $139.” “There is no way. If I pick up and return the same place, it’s a local rental at $30 per day.” I explained. “That’s not what my screen says.” He replied. Frustrated, I said, “Well, clean your screen because it’s wrong.” He started babbling on, trying to explain the logic behind the pricing structure, then said, “Oh, you’re right. It would only be $30 per day.” Ugh.
“And to leave it in Mason City?” I asked. He confirmed, “$90 if you leave it in Mason City, Iowa.” I crunched the numbers quickly to calculate the difference in additional fuel cost to return the trailer to Duluth.
“Okay, let’s reserve the trailer to be picked up in Duluth, Minnesota, and dropped off in Mason City, Iowa, by noon on Tuesday.” I said. He repeated the order, gathered some additional information, then said, “...and your total will be $146.” “It was $90 to Mason City.” I reminded him. “Well, the price went up.” He replied. “It’s the best I can do.”
I hate when they play these games. Two supervisors later, I reserved the trailer for $90. I was on the phone with them for over an hour. I guess I’ve still got it; the ability to get through the U-haul process without getting jacked on price - it just takes a little longer.
Sunday came, and we drove to Winona where we loaded the trailer. It took a little longer than I expected, but the help Annie lined up didn’t come through. It was just Melissa, Annie, and myself. I was pleased with the way the girls were able to help move the heavy furniture.
Annie had to be in Mason City the next morning to meet the cable provider who would hook up her Internet. She had the standard appointment, “Between eight a.m. and noon.” I didn’t want to get up at five in the morning, so we drove to Mason City after the trailer was loaded, Sunday night.
The next morning we were up and at it early, moving Annie into her new building...to her third floor apartment! First, we carried in boxes and totes of books...to the third floor. After lots of trips up and down the steps I was feeling it a bit in my legs and back. I told Melissa, “I guess I’m not thirty anymore.”
Inside the main door to the building is a split foyer; to the right, seven steps went down to the first floor and to the left, seven steps up to the second floor. There was a wall a few feet inside the door to divide the stairwells.
Once on the second floor, there were seven steps going up to a landing where you turned and went seven more steps to the third floor. A wrought-iron railing divided the upper stairs. With each load I kept envisioning how much work it was going to be to clear this obstacle course with the big stuff.
The couch was next. By removing the feet and turning it to just the right angle - an angle making it nearly impossible to hold the long, slippery, leather couch - we were able to squeeze through the door. We had to stand the couch on end to clear the intrusive black railing and turn the corner on the landing. Finally on the third floor, we had to carry the couch at the impossible angle to clear the door going into her apartment. Once it was inside, I flopped down on the sofa to rest. I told Melissa, “I guess I’m not forty anymore.”
The mattress, although bulky, wasn’t so bad because it bends a little. The box spring, dresser, entertainment center and desk, do not. When we finally had everything moved into her apartment, I sat down, exhausted. I looked at Melissa and said, “I guess I’m not fifty anymore. I can really feel it in my muscles.” Then I smiled and said, “On a happier note, I’ve still got it - the ability to move big furniture to a third floor. It just takes a little longer than it used to.”
We finished at 11:40 and we were all ready for lunch! “What about the cable company?” Melissa asked. Annie called to find out if they were on their way. An operator told her, “A technician will be there by noon.” Annie replied, “That’s now.” The surprised operator said, “Oh, I guess it is. I’ll call dispatch to find out where they are.” Annie was placed on hold. When the operator returned, I could tell by the look on her face, Annie was getting the standard cable company run-a-round.
After holding again for a period of time, the operator returned. Whatever she said, Annie’s response was, “I don’t have another four hours to keep waiting on you guys to show up.” Then she asked, “And that’s the best you can do?”
With the operator still on the line, Annie told me, “They’re now saying I wasn’t actually scheduled until next Monday, on the eighteenth, but they can come Wednesday between noon and five.” I motioned for Annie to give me the phone.
“Hi, this is Tom - Annie’s Dad. What’s the problem?” The operator explained the same thing she told Annie, “I’m sorry, Wednesday isn’t going to work.” I said, then she suggested the eighteenth. “I’m sorry, that’s not acceptable.” Next the operator suggested the twenty-ninth. Again I said, “That’s not acceptable. Annie was told today, and has an order confirmation. You need to send your service tech here today.” There was a pause, then the operator told me, “She is not going to have service installed today. Rescheduling is the best I can do.”
Polite, but firmly, I told the operator. “We planned this day to move our daughter based on when your company could install her service. I’m driving over seven hundred miles to meet your schedule. You need to have someone here today.” In a bit more irritated tone of voice, she said, “It’s not going to happen today. Rescheduling her appointment is the best I can do, so what do you want to do?”
I paused, then calmly answered, “I want to speak to your supervisor.” She started to say, “You’re not going to get...” I interrupted her, “Excuse me. You just told me you cannot help me, so there is nothing more for you and I to talk about. I wish to speak to your supervisor.” She started to say “Sir, you...” I stopped her again, “Now, please.” There was a slight pause. She didn’t sound very sincere when she said, “Hold the line, please.” with a sarcastic emphasis on please.
After explaining everything to the supervisor, a few more minutes of conversation and holding time, I said, “Thank you. I appreciate your efforts to make this right.” I hung up the phone. Melissa and Annie were both staring at me, waiting for the outcome. “They’ll be here before five-o-clock today.”
I guess I’ve still got it - the ability to handle these cable companies who feel their time is valuable and yours is not. I won’t accept it when they act like you should feel grateful that they are even allowing you to subscribe to their service.
We went to lunch. Afterwards, Melissa and I headed on to Waterloo. My son-in-law, Jordan, and I loaded the trailer with boards, brush, drywall scraps, metal, fencing, and other stuff they had been piling up for a landfill trip. Because he had jury duty the next day, I agreed to drive to the landfill and empty the trailer alone.
With a quick call to U-Haul they told me I could leave the trailer in Waterloo without an additional charge. I liked that. It took a lot of pressure off me by not having to drive back to Mason City before noon.
Jordan’s jury duty was cancelled for the day, so he went to work. I was getting ready to go dump the trailer, but didn’t know where I was going so I texted him, “Addy for the Landfill?” He replied, “If you want to, move her seat.” Confused, I wrote, “That makes no sense at all.” He explained, “Take her seat out of the van and put it in the truck.” I busted out laughing, then replied, “Bahahaha! I meant I need an address for the landfill. OMGosh.” His next text read, “Oh. Haha, ok one sec.” then followed up with the address.
I told Sydney about the series of texts, explaining, “He thought I was asking if I could take Addie (our granddaughter) to the landfill with me. All I wanted was the street address.” I was laughing over the misunderstanding. Sydney looked at me and said, “Dad, people don’t use the term addy anymore.” “They don’t?” I asked, a bit surprised. “Not really,” she said, explaining, “Not since texting pretty much replaced email in like 2000.” Well, I learned something new!
At the landfill, I emptied the trailer. It took a little longer than it used to, but I was working alone. As I drove away, I thought about the misunderstanding with Jordan, then started chuckling to myself. I’ve still got it - the ability to communicate with this younger generation - it just takes a little longer.