Tuesday, April 19th, 2011, is a day that will live in my mind forever. Given that kiddos are not in my future, after my wedding day and my transplant, I may remember The Day Our Stuff Finally Arrived in Sydney.
Harken back to December 17, 2010, when the movers picked up 72 boxes from our loft in Austin (our stuff looked so small), and the moving service account manager assured me that our belongings would arrive in Sydney within 45-90 days, with 4-7 days getting out of quarantine and customs.
While I guess the 88 days it took to arrive in Sydney is within the limit, the 29 days it took to get from the dock to our home was way, way, way, way off.
We have no stuff. We have too much stuff.
In just 60 minutes our terrace went from a vast emptiness to a claustrophobic and treacherous landfill. It had been a place where echoes filled the empty space and laundry was necessary every six days just to have clear underwear. It has become the precursor to a garage sale or visit to Goodwill. Our 72 boxes don’t look that small anymore.
There are a few times where I wish I could go back in time, to tell myself, “Hey, don’t do that,” like the final day of my junior year at Stanford. Wow, that was dumb. I’d definitely spend some coin for a trip in the Wayback Machine to step out, grab myself by the shoulders, and shake the spinal fluid out of the past me while shouting “You don’t need your Vandersteen speakers. The company you are joining has an anti-dress code and button downs are frowned upon. You will not be entertaining groups of 8-10 people and so you don’t need any of that stuff. Pack more underwear in your suitcases. 15 cycling jerseys and 8 running shirts is too many. Those Chuck Taylor shoes don’t fit you anymore. Don’t go buy extra toothpaste just in case they don’t have your favorite brand in Sydney.”
Home is where the stuff is
I’ll admit that the feeling of being limbo had slowly shifted to being in purgatory over the last four weeks. I was in no man’s land – waiting for all the things to arrive that are what make me enjoy life: my bike, training gear, wetsuit, etc. Its sad to say how much these material things bring happiness, but they do. I assembled my cruiser (Dan, if you call it a girls’ bike again I’m going to fly to Austin and feed Holly laxatives) and rode it to and from work the next morning. Going to work and back has never made me happier. Just incredible. I can’t wait to get home from this holiday so I can put together my tri-bike.
Epilogue: A movement in three acts
Only read if you want the minutia of the actual customer experience of moving internationally. Not that entertaining, mostly cathartic.
An international move is actually done by (at least) three parties, where an overall contractor arranges pickup and packing on one end by one company, the middle transport by another company, and then import and delivery by a third company.
Allied Berger handled the pickup in Austin, and were fantastic, except for one mover who I caught twice leafing through our photo albums in our closet. Another mover named Tree, gets the MVP award, because he packed up our entire kitchen in Austin and not a single thing broke en route. The sales manager wasn’t helpful not a hindrance, though they offer no tracking and no advice except to get the international forms filled out.
Chess Moving in Sydney handled the export and delivery. We were notified that our stuff had arrived by postal mail. Too bad phones, email, and about 10 other modes of communication haven’t been invented and that we still have to rely on the Pony Express to get letters across the frontier. The original 4-7 day estimate was missing from the picture and replaced by 10 business days. 10 business days came and went, with the explanation of “there are a lot of containers in front of yours, and the quarantine folks only work three days a week, and only half days.” Excellent. 29 days later, our stuff arrived. The delivery guys were once again fast and awesome. But everything in the middle was poorly managed.
I don’t know if there are better moving companies or if this is the best that the industry has to offer, but I think it’s worth shopping around, especially if you can find a company who can deliver faster.