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Look out for the 5’4″ lady driving a 26′ moving van

By Staff | Oct 1, 2010

Despite having nowhere to move to, I had to move my accumulated stuff from Lisbon to Rugby (4 hours) last weekend. My townhouse in Lisbon had to be vacated by October 1 and since that falls during my very busy work week, I had to go with the weekend before.

For any of you who have had to move, you know it is an adventure at best and a nightmare at worst. I had moved from a house filled with a family’s amount of items three years before, so I had already downsized some. However, I had a very large apartment all on one level. Thank goodness it didn’t have a basement, so I had to get rid of stuff.

I have never rented a moving truck before and had no idea what size I might need.

“Okay, I’m a grown up, I can do this,” I thought.

I rented a moving van in Lisbon. When I went to pick it up last Saturday morning, the dealer told me he only had a 26′ van which is quite large. (Think, almost semi-size.) Being naive at times, I said, “Okay, more room is good.”

The rental guy asked me which level of insurance did I want? “No, thank you, I have too much insurance, already,” I replied. Wrong answer, Kimosabi! Well, it turns out the truck alone costs $70,000 and if it gets damaged I would need to replace that right away. Okay, I got the insurance even though it would only be a four-hour ride across the state of no traffic.

Two of my grown sons spent six hours loading the truck. When I got here the Rugby football team unloaded it in about one hour. Nice kids, by the way. I can’t thank them enough.

To make a long story longer, I decided to take the truck back to Harvey, the nearest drop off for this moving van company. Now, I had white-knuckled it all the way to Rugby at night in the dark in what I affectionately call, my friend, the Semi. It has no center rear view mirror (for obvious reasons) and it has two side view mirrors on each side. Talk about confusing.

The first thing I did before I even left Lisbon was fall out of the truck as I tried to stretch my short legs from the step to the ground. I looked up from the pavement in time to see someone driving by with their neck craned as if to say, “Did that woman just fall out of that truck?” I jumped up quickly even though I had a few bruises including the big one to my ego. That was the beginning of the trip.

The football guys (did I say they are a great bunch of guys) unloaded this huge truck of all my belongings and I and my friend Sandy (who has taken me into her home until I can find an apartment) drove to Harvey to drop off the Semi. Two blocks from my destination I stopped to replace the gas in the Semi. At this point, I was pretty proud of myself. I had successfully driven a “Semi’ clear across the state in one piece. “I am woman, hear me roar!”

Not so fast. I drove into the gas station tried to get as close to the pump as possible, forgetting that I was driving a “Semi”. I had kept my one instruction in my head the whole way and used it properly up until then. Swing widely to the left before a right turn and swing widely to the right before a left turn. But this wasn’t exactly a turn. I also heeded the advice of a male friend to keep it between the two lines, and just drive down the highway. If in doubt go slower. “You’ll be fine,” were the last words I heard before leaving town. And I was, until the gas station, two blocks from the return place.

If there are any real truck drivers out there, you know what’s coming next. As I turned ( not swinging widely enough) I took the pump handle with me and leaned a little too close to the actual pump itself. Oh, Crap! Did I do that? This can’t be happening two blocks from my destination. To top it off a construction or some type of working crew was at the station and got a collective laugh out of the deal.

When the police officer and sheriff came I wanted to say, “Book me, Dano!” but I have a lot of respect for law enforcement and didn’t think that was a good idea. Besides, I was so humiliated by the experience I could barely keep from crying.

Today, dawned a new day. The nightmare of the “Semi” is behind me, relegated to the file of past experiences. I survived. But, one thing you can count on. I won’t be driving a moving van anytime soon.

Barta is the Tribune’s editor.

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