year of the goat

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August 28, 2003 | The Move From Hell
A happy momment before our murderous Uhaul tries to do us in
When the best part of your day is not being killed, you know you've had a pretty bad one. It was the day on which we would leave our lives in New York, pack up all our things and take the first big step that would set up the rest of the year to come. It started badly and got worse. I got up at 7am to pick up the Uhaul truck, and discovered I couldn't find my wallet. The apartment was chaos, full of boxes and piles of things to go in boxes, and we looked everywhere, overturned everything, and there was no wallet, no credit cards, no atm card, no driver's license, no cash. Margaret doesn't have a credit card, and didn't have enough cash for the Uhaul and the movers, and we began to panic. This went on for 20 minutes. I decided that I must have been pick-pocketed when we were walking Godfrey the night before, but as I'm on the phone to Uhaul to postpone our pick-up time, and about to call and cancel all my credit cards, I bump into a box, moving it and revealing the wallet that had fallen down in between 2 boxes.
At the dog park later that morning, our friend Susie informed us that Mercury was in retrograde and we could expect to experience mechanical difficulties. She told us to make sure we had several backup plans in case things went wrong. We should have heeded her warning. Instead we continued on with the move.

The movers showed up an hour late, and the first thing they do when they look at the 17' van and look at all our stuff is inform us that it's not all going to fit. Margaret and I had placed a bet earlier about how full the truck would be. If there was more than 9 cubic feet left in the truck, I would have to eat a mushroom chestnut potpie. If there was less than 9 cubic feet, Margaret would have to eat a can of spaghettios. Although I was relieved by the movers estimate because it was looking more unlikely that I would have to partake of the mushroom potpie, once again I began to panic. They tell us we better call Uhaul and get a trailer for behind the truck. We call 3 Uhaul rental centers. First center: no trailers. Second center: Computer is down, can't tell us if they have a trailer. Third center: Has a trailer, hangs up on us 3 times. We decide to try our luck and put the movers packing skills to the test, but just in case we begin to identify possessions we could leave behind on the sidewalk. With the precision of a Tetris master, Alex the mover arranged all of our things in truck. The dressers were upside down, the microwave on it's side, but everything fit, with a few inches to spare. As an extra tip I gave him an old PC that I had triaged earlier.

We spend the next four hours cleaning the apt. We needed our deposit back.

We ended up leaving New York at 8pm, about 3-4 hours later than planned. The Uhaul is a piece of shit. It handles like the power steering is attached to the wheels with rubberbands, and it won't go faster than 50mph. We're about an hour outside NYC, heading north on I-95, and I'm trying to get the Uhaul to at least 55mph when the accelerator sticks. I take my foot off the gas pedal, but the pedal stays stuck to the floor and now we start going faster and faster. 55mph. 60. 65. 70. 75. I'm trying to reach down and pull up the pedal and we're swerving all over the road. Meanwhile I'm pumping the brakes to keep us from going over 80, and we can start to smell the brakes burning. Margaret gets down on the floor of the cab and tries to pull up the pedal. Nothing. I put the truck in neutral, and the engine revs out of control. We try calling 911 on my cell phone. No Service. We are freaking out. We don't know what to do. Turn off the engine? Will the brakes and steering still work? I continue to alternate between riding the brakes and kicking the gas pedal. After 5 minutes of speeding out of control in the runaway Uhaul, the accelerator pops back out and we are able to slow down to a less deadly 50mph.

Then we get stuck in traffic for an hour and a half. It's almost midnight. Exhausted, we try to pull off and find a hotel to stay in for the night. After 3 tries we find a place that will take Godfrey. Over three hours on the road and we're not even in New Haven. We get up at 7am the next morning, get back in the truck, and keeping our speed under 50mph, and sometimes under 35mph on hills, we chug up to Maine. We nicknamed our truck "Speedy." Seven and a half hours later we arrived in Manchester. Exhausted but alive. We unload half the truck with the help of my father, and then collapse. I've tried to file a complaint with Uhaul and get some sort of reparations for our near death experience, but So far, they are giving us the runaround. I think I may have an ulcer. —KS

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The Year of the Goat

The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese
The Lyons Press, Aug 2007
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In 2004 we made 4 appearances on the now sadly off the air, but then nationally syndicated PRI show, The Next Big Thing
Fortunately you can hear the shows in their archives:
1st show | 2nd show | 3rd show | 4th show

Miles Traveled: 41409
Next Stop: A farm of our own