and now, a funny apartment story

Ok, to get the visions of perverts and crazies and ghetto neighborhoods out of your minds, I now offer a much more amusing apartment-related story. Actually, it has very little to do with the apartment itself and is really more an example of my mother’s “Miss Fix-It-ness,” but I think it’s close enough. (Example of the Fix-It-ness: my mom stood on a step-ladder and rewired a light fixture when she was 8 months pregnant with my sister, because “it needed to be done, and you know your father is useless with that kind of thing.”) The older I get, the more I realize that I probably inherited this gene from her, and it frightens me.

So, this was also back in 2000. The reason why I moved home with my parents (see the story below) in the first place was because I had been living in a small town in Wisconsin called Appleton, which was great except that I had moved there on a whim for a temp job and then found out that it was almost impossible to find work there. My parents said that I could move home with them and they (along with my sister, who’s helped me out of many a financial crisis) would support me while I went to school for a Microsoft certification. Seeing as I had zero income at the time and no real prospects, it seemed like the best offer I could imagine, even though the idea of living with my parents at age 24 made me feel like dying. So my mom flew up to help me drive the U-Haul to Mississippi, as she is The Parent Who Helps All of Her Children Move. (She even helped my sister move to & from Italy. Which was totally unselfish of her, because really, who wants to spend a few days in Italy? Pshaw!) Since my mom has a bad back and I lived on the 2nd floor, I had arranged for movers to come help us load up the moving van. Did you know that you can hire two guys from a moving company to help you load a truck, even when you’re using a different company’s moving truck? Well, you can, and I did. I was set to move on a Saturday. On Friday night, the movers called and said that they had a cancellation, and they wanted to know if they could come a little earlier, at 10 a.m. rather than 11. Sure, great, no problem! After I got off the phone, my mom jokingly said, “What are you going to do if they don’t show up tomorrow?” Since it seemed totally preposterous, I said, “Sit on the steps and cry, I guess.” We had a nice big laugh about that. (Again with the foreshadowing!)

Saturday, we got up early to finish the last of the packing and to get Teenie securely shut in the bathroom so she couldn’t freak and run out of the apartment while we were moving stuff. My friend Jen came over to help, and also to say good-bye. We’ve been friends since college, she was a big part of the reason why I chose to move to Appleton in the first place, and we were both very sad that I was leaving. Ten o’clock rolled around and no movers showed up. At 10:30, I called the moving company – they didn’t have voicemail, so it just rang endlessly with no answer. By 11:00, I was starting to get really worried, so Jen and I got in my car (my mom waited at the apartment in case they showed up) and we drove to the address that was listed next to the moving company in the phone book. It was a house, not a business. Fantastic. Thank god I hadn’t given these people my credit card number up front. I got back to the apartment (still no movers!), and was about to have a full-on panic attack. I literally sat on the stairs and started to cry, just like I had joked that I would. My mom, in total “if there is a problem, yo, I’ll solve it” fashion, told me not to worry, she would find a solution. I went back into my apartment to cry some more. Jen came in a few minutes later and told me that I had to go outside and see my mom. Apparently, she found a guy who was innocently walking down the street, she ran up to him, and said, “Excuse me, but I’ll pay you $200 if you help my daughter load her moving truck.” I swear I’m not making that up. I’m pretty sure she came up with the $200 figure because that’s how much we were going to pay the moving company, and she figured it was too much for one person to turn down. By the time I got outside, my mom and this dude were walking up, and my mom said, “This is so-and-so. He’s going to help us load the truck!” Jen hid behind me and tried not to pee herself laughing over my mom’s mad recruitment skillz.

There’s an interesting element of Wisconsin culture that my mom didn’t know: the bars all have last call around 1 or 1:30 in the morning, but a few of them re-open at 6 a.m. That way, the people who work graveyard shift can have a few beers when they get off work, because hey, it’s sort of like evening to them, right? And in blue collar areas like where I lived, there were a lot of people who worked graveyard – mostly factory jobs – and there were enough of them to make it worthwhile for the bars to open early in the morning. It turned out that this guy that my mom recruited was, in fact, a factory worker, and he had hit the bars around seven in the morning after he got off work. Four and a half hours later, since he was blasted out of his mind, he wisely decided to leave his car at the pub and walk home. That was when my mom found him. When she offered him $200, he did a little drunk math and figured out that it would make up for how much he had just spent at the bar, so his wife wouldn’t yell at him too much. How my mom didn’t notice his slurring, or the fact that he smelled like he had taken a shower in Pabst Blue Ribbon, I honestly don’t know. But dude was wasted. I mean, drunkity-drunk.

While we were moving stuff, he confessed to me that he was drunk, and actually said, “But don’t tell your mom.” Um, what? I’m sorry, are we co-conspirators in this? Are you my little brother and I’m going to have to sneak you in the house so mom doesn’t notice you smell like bourbon barf? (That’s actually happened with my brother, but we’ll leave that story for another time.) I think he was afraid she wouldn’t pay him if she found out. He obviously didn’t know just how desparate we were. With a few of the heavier items, like my washer and dryer, he tried to back out of moving them down the stairs. He was all, “oh, I don’t know, I’m afraid I might drop those….” (Because hello, he just might have!) And my mom would pull the, “oh pretty please, won’t you move the big heavy items with your big manly-man muscles?” on him. It’s worth noting that the guy was maybe 5’7″ and 140 pounds, tops. Nevertheless, she pulled out the full-on flirty accent, and she batted her eyelashes like a true southern belle. My mom knows how to get what she wants. It totally worked too, and miraculously, he didn’t drop any of my furniture down the stairs, although I imagine that we probably pretty well killed his buzz.

And… that’s the end of the story. I wish I had some great twist ending, but that’s it: my mom got a drunk stranger to handle all of my personal belongings. Then we spent 3 days in a U-Haul with a cat, but nothing really noteworthy happened. And that’s just about the best I can do on a Wednesday morning.