Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Dunno If You're Gonna Want to Read This

It's just more of me whining about My Bad Day.

You might want to navigate away from this page now.

Okay. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Moving is just stressful no matter how many times you do it. I will make a little plug for my current moving company, Crown, as they are, so far, creating a much more professional experience for me than when I moved to Moscow. I won't mention any names as your mileage may vary.

Let's just say I should have stuck with AGS. Worst mistake I ever made regarding a move.

I mean, I actually called the other company for a quote about moving us to Luxembourg and could not get their Expat Contact Lady to return my calls. In fact, the Estimate Gal who eventually came out to do the survey even said, "Oh, she never returns calls . . . she only emails."

All well and good, but how am I supposed to email you when you have my computer on your truck?

They didn't even follow up with a call to see who I had chosen.

Who doesn't call a potential client to ask for their business?

Meanwhile, Crown has not given me anything in exchange for the mention here. Unless you count letting me shout at their Documents Dude on the phone this morning.

It wasn't his fault. It was the Idiot Notary preparing the Power of Attorney documents. And Documents Dude, in his defense, actually went out of his way to be helpful.

And what was his thanks? Having to listen to me cry on the phone and make snarky remarks.

In my defense, why is it that people, especially professional movers, don't grasp that when you are in the middle of a move like this you really Do. Not. Have. Anything.

Dox Dude made the mistake of suggesting I print a document. That would be fine except your team very efficiently PACKED MY PRINTER. Yesterday.

[NB: Seriously, they went through our place like a dose of salts. They originally said they would need 2.5 days to pack and load us. And they did it in 1.5 days. They managed to take the piano out without me even hearing it. Unlike when The Clowns brought it in. Up. Every. Step. For. Seven. Flights. BAM. BAM. BAM.]

Okay, okay. Here's my whole day.

7:30 a.m. Left New (temporary) Apartment and dropped kids off at school.

[NB: The New Apartment is just fine. Really. But the toilet makes me laugh. It is a "water closet." As in my knees hit the wall making the whole process not unlike the stateroom scene out of A Night at the Opera.]

I mistakenly thought I could relax for a bit, enjoy a coffee and maybe a little breakfast, while I waited for HR Babe at The Spouse's old job to get to work. I thought I would breeze in and sort out a few details. Never occurred to me that she might have meetings until 11:00.

Sheesh. The nerve.

So I ate half a cheese omelet and then went to what we are now referring to as the "Old Apartment."

I cleaned the bathroom and started on the kitchen when The Vet called to say she had my travel documents. She came over and explained everything I will have to do at the airport on Monday.

She left at 10:45. I know because I had set the alarm on my phone to go off reminding me to go see HR Babe.

In the meantime, I had several snarky conversations with Crown's Document Dude. Including the one as I was leaving the building that frustrated me so that I started to cry.

The details aren't that important.

But the short version is what notary won't accept your actual passport when Russian Immigration will, but insists on a translated form that then has to be notarized? It's not like our names on our Russian visas aren't already in Cyrillic.

Got to HR Babe's office around noon and filled out some forms so The Spouse can have some life insurance until we buy him another plan in Luxembourg.

Because when you work for an American company, things like life insurance come with the job. But insurance is not a benefit with a European employer because they all have insurance through their country. And so will we once we have a residency permit. Health insurance anyhow.

The life insurance we will have to buy. In the meantime, since The Spouse had that little pulmonary thrombosis scare while the rest of you were eating turkey and cranberry sauce, I thought I might want to extend his current policy.


Except, they want a check.

I haven't written a lot of checks since 1999 when I started living abroad. But I do still own a checkbook.

Which the movers very efficiently packed.

Because, I don't need it. Usually.

So I had to call American Blogging Girlfriend Katbat and ask her to write me a check.

"When you come back," said HR Babe, "just leave the check in an envelop at Reception."

"Um, HR Babe," I had to ask. "Can you give me an envelop?"

She was horrified, and did and even gave me a sleeve to carry the copies of the insurance forms. Because I am really without anything I normally have access to.

I'm about as prepared as the family pet. And it's extremely stressful.

Baboo finished school at 1:00 p.m. I stopped at the bank before and took a LOT of dollars out of the ATM to give to Sister Katbat and then ran around looking for one of those machines to feed money into for my phone. They are everywhere when you don't need one and curiously missing when you do. And boy, oh, boy, now that The Spouse has a Lux number and we aren't both with the same Russian service provider, is my phone ever costing me a mint!

Took Baboo to the New Apartment and then ran across the street to Hoover down a Big Mac Combo Meal.

[NB: There's a McDonald's across the street from us now. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been in a McDonald's since we moved to Moscow. Mostly I walk in and walk out because there is NO PLACE TO SIT. McDonald's just celebrated 20 years in Moscow, and it is as popular as ever.]

While I was sitting there inhaling French fries, my phone rings.

It's Natasha from the Luxembourg office. She's handling our travel details. She wants to know the measurements of my cats' travel cages.

Which would have been really easy to answer even yesterday when I had access to measuring devices, but now I. Do. Not. Have. Anything.

Quick: Tell me where to buy a measuring tape in Moscow! Metric or English, it doesn't matter.

I know of two hardware stores . . . and a few of those places in the perehods where you can get yarn and embroidery kits . . . but tick-tock, tick-tock . . . Natasha is two hours behind me, but she still needs the information today.

I admit to crying again while snarfling French fries, wasting an awful lot of my phone credit blubbering to Natasha about my helpless state, and wondering if I choked on the fries if anyone would try to rescue me or if they would just push my lifeless body under the counter where I was sitting, happy to have found a seat in McDonald's.

Realized I could ask Katbat, a confessed sewer, if she had a tape measure while I was over at her place utilizing her banking services.

Loyal Beetnik, Katbat truly is One-Stop Shopping. She lent me her measuring tape, which I must return this weekend.

I dropped the check off for HR Babe (thankfully Katbat lives across the street), picked up second child at 3:00 p.m. (who, like her sister, was weepy about her Last Day . . . heartbreaking to watch) and 5 liters of water (which is heavy!), and took both to the New Apartment before running back to the Old Apartment to measure the cat cages.

Got back to New Apartment around 5:00 p.m.

Now, as I type this, having the benefit of a very nice dinner out and a healthy portion of vodka, all of this seems so silly. But at the time I was just holding on until this moment.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

AGS is awful when I moved here they lost my car keys and papers, damaged my table that was a wedding gift and were total idiots.

AGS is not a professional company !!!

Anonymous said...

Good luck to take the cats out of Russia if you have a person to arrange all your flights and apartment search etc? life will be sweet. We did it all ourselves to Moscow. A NIGHTMARE but you are leaving to luxo-berger so it should be easy and uneventful !!

The Expatresse said...

Oh, sorry to hear about AGS. They did two moves for me prior and were real sweeties. Guess moving is always difficult.

We have a temp apartment and a rental car waiting for us. Flights arranged. Yuri and Valeria sorted the cats. But I'll be happy once we are all on the plane.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

THIS is why I read about other people living abroad and I don't do it myself...(well, only one of the reasons!) Good luck wrapping up all the details and moving to the next stop!

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember you don't like travelling. Me neither, and this is why. Having to live without my cocoon of stuff is stressful. See, you do need all those things is what I always think at times like this.

Ah well, not long to go. Imagin how muc worse it would be if you were backpacking round Europe or somting equally hideous.

Can I just say I am going to miss you writing about Russia. It's not always done well. Still, looking forward to your take on Luxemburg.

Tina in CT said...

Horors! You sure deserved your dinner and vodka last night. Hope the last two days are much better.

valentina said...

Oh Poor BG!... Just hearing about it makes me tired and want to go back to bed and it is only 10 am here!
I am so glad you got it all sorted and survived and you and the weepy ones will be on your way to your new adventure very soon... It will be great to read about your new life there in Luxembourg although reading about Moscow has been amusing and informative for all of us! Thanks for the great view of life in Moscow! I miss you all and am thinking of you and sending lots of love and Valentine's wishes! xov

MoscowMom said...

Oh, Amanda... So sorry your last days are going so poorly... Yay that Katherine could help you out!!!! I hope today is better and that things are working out!!!!!


You know, it's all the house elf's fault. Except I bet the house elf was packed. So it's still his fault for not being around.

Anonymous said...

I have also moved 2 times,to 2 countries as an expat, once with one company and the aother time with AGS both damaged our stuff. But AGS was by far the worst.

Did you know, that although you have insurance against any moving damage these companies expect you to get repair quotes for all damaged things. This will include computers, TV's, stereos, scratches etc. Would you really repair a damaged bit of furniture or a TV? no you would replace it.

They are all sharks so be warned!

Jojo, Julz, Julianne said...

You'll have to share what it was like for your daughters another day...i wondered how they are taking all of this..
So when do you get on that flight outta there? I bet, or I wonder will there be tears for you?

Shelley said...

Wow, I've just found your blog and you're leaving Moscow? Going to Luxembourg, is that right? Will the Beet Go On or will you start a new blog? I'm thinking I'm awfully glad I moved to England, where they speak English, after a fashion anyhow. I remember being exhausted after a day at work, sitting through a meeting at a large table full of people who each spoke in a completely different accent. But at least it was my native language.

I shall be back to see how and where you are!

Dawn said...

You are correct Amanda, no matter how many times you move it is very stressful. And notice all the little detils wait till the end. After things are packed and you THINK things are done. Good luck and happy travelling!

katbat said...

No worries! :-) Glad I could help - especially with all the fabulous hand me downs "Mom! Look at those cat buttons!!!" Let me know if you need anything tomorrow - leo is working so we will be around - may head out for some blini - but wont wander far! Good luck if I dont see you - hope to hear an update soon!

Lizabee said...

Yes moving is horrible, and if you do it too much your dining room table ends up looking like Mike Tyson's nose and all those sets of 6 you used to impress friends with dwindle into a cupboard full of oddments.

Even worse is arriving in the next country and trying to find the apartment you signed a year's lease on. You can't even read the road names let alone convey what you think is your destination to the irritated taxi driver.

So why do we keep moving? Despite all the frustrations, there is nothing more exciting than setting yourself up in a new country with a new culture and completely different language, and eventually actually being able to buy shoes and complain about shoddy service in said language. It's certainly not the same as going on holiday and eventually it becomes quite addictive. True, your furniture will never again appear in Home and Garden, but in the end it's all so totally worth it.

Good luck with the move and have a great time with the next bout of culture shock. Nothing, might I add from recent experience, compared with the reverse culture shock you experience when one day you have to go home again. So just love the bad experiences as well -- it's what makes being an expat SO much better than staying at home.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Luxembourg will be a culture shock. By all reports it a nice place but rather boring. It will be a walk in the park after Moscow! And a nice change for The Expatresse!

I think any European visiting American it would be a culture shock. Massive supermarkets, drive in marriages,huge casinos, massive highways, guns for sale when you buy your shopping in the mini mall, massive heart stopping burgers, time zone changes, climate changes and all in the same country to name only a few things!

An interesting and diverse country of madness, amusement and bizarre extremes. Luxembourg really will be a step back to the normal after Russia and the States!