Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why Uhaul Sucks

It's 5:10am. I should be sleeping. Instead I'm wide awake and suffering from a serious case of anxiety.

All because of Uhaul.

I think my plans were too well organized: spend the night in London, pick my friend John up in the morning, drive back to Windsor, pick up the truck, load it up, drive to Jeremy's grandparents' place, unload truck, drop truck off, bring John back to London. It all seemed so easy.

It all started with a message.

3:45pm Saturday: a blinking light on the answering machine. "Hi! I'm calling from Uhaul about your reservation for a truck. Unfortunately we don't have any moving trucks available in the Windsor area for a one-way move. What I'm going to offer you is a cargo van for $100 and unlimited kilometers. And an extra day if you need it. Give me a call back so we can set it up."

Jeremy and I looked at each other and erupted into words that I'm sure neither of us was listening to. Finally, he picked up the phone and called Uhaul. We were completely furious.

4:00pm: Jeremy freaks out at the Uhaul guy. "Um ya, I have a major problem with my reservation for 10am tomorrow morning - apparently you people don't understand that we are moving to a city 4 hours away and can't fit an entire apartment into a VAN! I refuse to make multiple trips across Ontario tomorrow, so you better get us a truck here immediately!"

"Sir, we don't rent vans, only trucks."

"Listen dude, I'm on your website looking at a picture of a 9.2 foot CARGO VAN - are you sure you know what you're talking about?!"

4:20pm: I take the phone away from Jeremy. "Okay, hi. I'm taking over this call. I would like to know what the hell is going on with my reservation. I made it a week ago, and if there was going to be a problem getting a truck for me - your company should not be telling me this less than 24 hours before my sheduled pickup. This is completely unacceptable, we will NOT be taking a cargo van, and if you need to - get a supervisor because this will be resolved now."

Uhaul guy (seemed a little afraid of my calm, threatening tone) "Okay miss, here's the thing. We were supposed to have 17 trucks in Windsor for this weekend, but they have not arrived and we don't know what's going on."

So apparently 16 other people are going through the same thing we are right now...

"I don't really care about what happened. I ordered a truck for tomorrow and there better be one available. It's physically impossible to stuff all of my furniture and boxes into a cargo van".

"Okay Miss, would you mind holding?"

25 minutes of holding (on and off) ended in my phone number being taken and a promise of a callback. This as you can guess, never came.

4:50pm: Panic begins. Jeremy and I have made multiple phone calls already, and been promised callbacks from several people. The original person who left the message called to offer us a truck to pick up in Sarnia. A 2 and a half hour drive from Windsor. They were getting desperate, and we were getting angrier by the minute.

I pride myself on being pretty calm in a crisis. I've dealt with high level executives for major companies in North America through previous jobs, and was always able to come up with at least one other option to resolve people's issues. I thought about it, and realized we could pick a truck up in London and drive it to Windsor - but they would have to waive the fee for kilometers for us. And give us a damn good discount.

Apparently this option is not acceptable to Uhaul.

5:30pm: I have to leave for London to bring our cat to John, who is taking care of him until he's allowed into the UK. I'm very very late. There is still no resolution.

7:40pm: arrival at John's house. The story is repeated again, and he can't believe it either. I'm so upset and worried about this whole situation that I forget to be sad about not seeing my kitty for 8 months. (Now I'm wondering if he's scared in the new place with another cat and no me or Jeremy - we've never left him before)

9:00pm: I arrive at Ledawit's house, and immediately launch into the story. She pours us each a glass of wine and I get back on the phone only to find out that:
1. Jeremy had not heard from anybody from Uhaul. Big shocker there.
2. The regional office was closed. That's right - closed at 7pm.
3. The international number "doesn't handle local reservations" so I needed to speak with the regional office in the morning.

My response to the third finding was "Oh so in the morning when I'm supposed to pick up my truck, I should call your company to find out if there will be one there?"

Recognizing that she was not going to win if she tried calming me down, the girl on the other end of the phone stammered some more and repeated herself a few times. I think it made her feel better. It made me angrier.

10:30pm: I start calling other moving truck companies, knowing that I will have to return the truck to London and that the kilometers were going to be very very expensive. Also that this weekend many people will be moving since the 1st of August is only a few days away - so the limited number of moving trucks is becoming even more limited.

National: "I'm so sorry but we don't have any trucks available for the London area tomorrow"
Thrifty: "I'm pretty sure we don't rent trucks" (amazed, I explain that I'm looking at a picture of a moving truck in their ad in the yellow pages)

The call to Budget provided some comic relief. It was a voice activated system (I hate those) asking me several questions.

"What province are you calling for?"

"I heard Ontario, is this correct?"

"Would you like Ottawa, Toronto, or elsewhere?"
"London, Ontario"

"I heard elsewhere, is this correct?"
sigh "Yes"

"Would you like London, Windsor, ..."

"I heard London, is this correct?"

"Please hold, I'm transferring you to a reservation agent." Cue hold music.

A few moments later I hear "If you're calling for Alberta, please press 1. If you're calling for Ontario, please press 2".

I was still laughing when the agent came onto the phone. Evidently you can't rent trucks from their national reservation line - you can only do this locally. Foiled again!

11:30pm: I call Jeremy to share what I've been up to and say goodnight. We both agree to start again in the morning and figure this out. I remind him that John can only help us tomorrow since he has to work on Monday (since he's the other driver, he's a pretty necessary part of our whole moving plan - I'm driving my car and he's supposed to driving the truck)

Right around that time my stomach started doing flip flops. How were we going to move?

Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Monday, July 24, 2006

would you pay money for my pictures?

After reading Lyndsay's comment today I started thinking about whether or not I should think about trying to market my pictures. Since I generally take pictures of flowers, sunsets, and my cat (three things that zillions of other people also take pictures of. Okay, not the cat though.) I'm not sure how marketable they are.

After looking into it today, I realized that selling photography online can be very profitable (some people making over $1000 a month) but that some sites aren't interested in any more pictures or flowers or sunsets. I welcome the challenge to try and get pictures of other things since I do have a lot of pictures in those categories.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A total pain in the ass

Today we learned the true meaning of the word useless. As in useless waste of an afternoon trying to get something done and being told that we should "wait till Monday".

What am I rambling about you ask?

Let me start at the beginning. Since we're going to be living in the UK for two years, we wanted to make arrangements for our cat to join us. Unfortunately there are several lines of red tape to cut through in order to accomplish this - microchipping, rabies vaccinations, blood tests, paperwork to get filled out and signed - it's lots of fun. But we decided that getting to keep Chase is worth the time and money, and started the process just over a month ago. A good friend of mine is going to take care of him until he's allowed to enter the country (there is a 6 month waiting period after getting the tests done) and my parents will bring him with them when they visit us in March.

When we got the microchipping done and the rabies test, the nurses at the vet's office told us to call back in about a month to set up the bood test (to prove that he has the right amount of antibodies in his system). I called them yesterday, explained very clearly to the nurse what we needed to have done, and she set up a time for us to come in this afternoon.

After waiting for 30 minutes to get into a room (they were very busy even though there didn't seem to be other people waiting with their pets) we were told by the vet that we should "come back Monday". whaaaa?!!

He explained that since the sample wouldn't be sent down to the lab until Monday, that he didn't want to compromise the results of the test - since it'll cost "between $200-$300. Then he asked if we needed to get this signed by the "Federal Veterinarian".

At this point, we were frustrated from waiting and completely shocked by the price of this test - I didn't even know what to say to him. I explained what we had done so far, and that I had actually gotten the papers I'd brought with me from the Federal Vet and that she had not mentioned anything about us needing to get this signed by her - or that there is only 1 place in North America that actually does these blood tests. Add the ridiculous cost to this, and you can probably imagine that I was starting to lose my temper.

The vet suddenly started apologizing and backpedaling, and saying he "wasn't sure about the signature thing" and explaining that we should call the Federal Vet to find out what else needed to be done - and that they'd be happy to take care of this on Monday. With Jeremy starting to grumble loudly in the corner, I decided to just smile, collect my papers and poor Chase (who was started to get irritated by being in kitty jail) and agreed to call back Monday.

Almost two hours wasted today.

I hate that people are going to ask me why I'm spending this much money "just for a cat". They don't understand that he's part of our family and that we'd rather go through this to keep him - giving him away is not an option. So now it looks like we're out another $300 just for this blood test - and the vet started talking about getting the tapeworm treatment - "just in case". I don't think he was trying to get more money out of us at that point - and after reading the details about bringing a cat or dog into the UK, it looks like they want you to do this - even if they don't have ticks or tapeworms.

Our cat lives inside our apartment. He's not even allowed on the balcony because we're worried he'll take a flying leap after a pigeon. He was already up-to-date on all of his shots, but since we can't prove any of it - all we could do is go through this ridiculous process.

That 6 month waiting period is pretty excessive, if you ask me. We've been planning this move for about 3 months - which I've always believed is a pretty long time in advance. I guess the international community has had trouble with animals being brought in from other countries - otherwise a 6 pound indoor cat wouldn't be cause for alarm (or quarantine).

So now I wait till Monday to pack up Chase again and spend several hundred more dollars (that I can't afford) so we won't have to give him away.

I wish they had free health care for pets of people who need financial assistance. Yes, I'm aware of the "if you can't afford to keep a pet, don't get one", but bear in mind that I was working when I got him - and the University of Windsor has taken away all of my money. *

Hopefully we don't get any more surprises on Monday.

* Okay, well not JUST them - but definitely because of them. I still can't believe how much money 1 year of university has cost me...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Wedding

Originally I had a write-up planned about my cousin's wedding. I tried to find words to describe the perfection of that day, but since it came out sounding like a romance novel, I've decided to let the pictures speak for themselves.

Since there don't seem to be any pictures, I should officially thank for my dear cousin for throwing her bouquet straight at me (we played hide and seek for a few minutes before the rest of the girls caught on, moved out of the way, and laughed as the orchids slammed into my legs). I guess being the last unmarried female cousin in the family, it shouldn't have surprised me. Ah well, maybe we'll elope in Paris or something... (so glad Jeremy knows I'm kidding)

Anyway, here are some of the pictures from the wedding. Congratulations Corrine & Ben!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

the power of positive thinking

Since I tend to be a worrier, I figured that this would be a good idea to help take my mind off of all of the little unanticipated things that keep coming up about our move. I realized today that I'll need a cell phone (that's "mobile" to the Brits) when I'm there, and since I know things about cell phones, I can't just buy some crappy, cheap one. Right now I've got a really sweet phone (sony ericsson s710a) that was given to me from them as a goodbye gift when I left for teacher's college. Unfortunately this phone will not work over the UK (wrong GSM frequencies), so there goes more money out of my pocket.

Anyway, this is not a rant.

I decided that my blog was going to do something nice for me tonight and help me to feel better and forget about my money troubles.

Top 10 things that Amused Me Tonight

10. Justin Timberlake admitting that he does drugs (apparently he's been spending time with our PM, Stephen Harper)

9. Watching George Stroumbolopolous (I'm sure I spelled this wrong, but don't care enough to find the real spelling) try to be like Ryan Seacrest (watch "The One" on ABC if you want to see for yourself)

8. My cat begging me to play with him: he sits in front of me with his ball and howls till I throw it

7. The realization that maybe I DO like that my hair gets compared to Jennifer Aniston's (why wouldn't a girl want to be compared to her in a positive way)

6. Dave the Horn Guy (on America's Got Talent - the dude's act was basically playing music on the dozen or so horns strapped to his body... very interesting)

5. Trying to spell "Strombulopoulous (and competing with Jeremy to name people who have even more unfortunate last names, like Badcock)

4. An article titled More than half of bloggers are under 30. If you think about this - it is not only common sense, but a ridiculous comment in general. People actually spent money to find this out - paid researchers and writers and people to analyze data to find out that over half of bloggers are under 30 years old. With so many anonymous bloggers, who did they find this out? Does anybody care?
There are many things I care about more than this: whether or not I should cut my toenails, who will be kicked out of "So You Think You Can Dance", if I'm hot enough to pull up my hair into a ponytail, whether Dave the Horn Guy is going to advance in America's Got Talent... well you get the idea.
Next they'll be researching how many words related to sex are in your average blog post, number of comments about reality TV shows, and how many 50 year olds are on MySpace.

*cough* sorry got carried away there - here are the rest

3. The Belligerent Intellectual's latest blog post

2. The Goodyear blimp flying right past our apartment building. (apparently the pilots got bored this evening and decided to fly overDetroit and Windsor)

1. David Hasselhoff's t-shirt (America's Got Talent) reading: "Don't Hassel the Hoff"

Honorary Mention: the fact that I clearly did nothing other than watch television all night. Here's hoping that tomorrow is more entertaining :)

Thank you blog for cheering me up.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The fiasco begins

Now that we have our plan for Moving Day (thanks to the kindness of some of our friends), I started callling moving companies and car rental places to get a small truck for the day. Even though we're not moving the bed or other large furniture we still need a fair amount of space for all of the boxes.

To my frustration and disgust, not one of the places that rents moving trucks accepts "one-way moves", meaning that even if you move across the province, you still have to return their truck to the city you pick it up in. Apparently Discount, Avis, Budget, National, and many others believe that people only move within one city. It's convenience at it's best folks!

With a sinking feeling in my belly, I called UHaul, knowing that I was about to be charged an excessively high amount of money to move our stuff.

$311 dollars = small truck, 345 "free" km, insurance (since they don't let you use your own), and a one-way move from Windsor all the way to Jeremy's grandparents' place.

"Are you okay with this rate, m'am?"

Me: "well, I guess I don't exactly have a choice, do I? Do you know any other companies that rent trucks for one-way moving?"

"um, no." nervous laugh. "I guess it's okay to book then?"

Loud sigh. "Yes, go ahead."

It would cost a third of the price to rent out one of the trucks from the other companies, but I'm not willing to drive an additional 3 and a half hours to return it by "the next day".

Moving sucks.

Long Range Forecast

It's finally hit me. It's become real and I can no longer stick my head in the sand.

There were several thunderstorms in the area last night, and being one of those people who happens to love thunderstorms, I tuned into The Weather Network to check things out, knowing that the only time you truly get accuracy from them is when there are storms happening.

When they went into the long range forecast (which covers a two week period) ending July 31st. Forgetting my glee over the "wicked cool lightning" (okay maybe I didn't exactly call it that, but that's what I was thinking), I stared at the TV screen. Apparently "we're not leaving till the end of the month" no longer means 'later'. It now means SOON.

Looking around our apartment, you see major signs that a pair of procrastinators live here. No boxes piled up or stacked in corners, a completely full freezer that needs to be emptied, the place needs a good cleaning, and even the things we don't use are still in the cupboards (those were supposed to be the things we either got rid of or packed first).

Let's hope we can get stuff done before Moving Day becomes "tomorrow we'll have scattered showers, temperature of 32 degrees Celsuis, and a chance of thunderstorms".

Monday, July 17, 2006

Overreaction at it's Best

Have you ever heard of The Onion? If you've been online for longer than a few months, odds are that you've spent some time reading through their "news articles". If not, and if you are a fan of guys like Rick Mercer, Dave Barry, Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert, check out the website.

My favourite article today?

During my perusal of some more blogger sites, I found this. As soon as I finished reading the post, I followed the links to something so perfectly funny that I had to mention it in my own blog.

There is a pretty disturbing picture in the post that I've linked to - I wish I could link to just the words, but unfortunately that's not possible. Just a heads up.

Maybe I'm enjoying this poor (dumb) person's embarassment a little more than I should. Maybe not. Read it and decide for yourselves. The comments section brought tears to my eyes from laughing so hard. Pretty good examples of how to call another person an idiot.

I'm not going to get into the whole abortion topic even though I have opinions of my own about it. I will say that it's scary that people get so crazy passionate about something that sometimes they stop thinking. Wow could I ever point a lot of fingers here...

What I really want to know is how anybody can go to a website that features articles written by Jesus and still believe that it is actually reporting real life.

I guess it takes all kinds.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

No Soup for You?! YES Soup for me!!!

No, this is not a reference to the fact that Jeremy and I have been eating only soup for the last couple of days due to our mysterious illness.

This morning, I was scanning through for anything interesting and came upon this article.

mmmm seafood bisque ;)

one of the many reasons I'll miss my kitty

Wow - I had worked up a good pout over my changed plans (see previous post) until my sick boyfriend walks past me, starts to laugh (which I think hurt him a little), and points at this:

Wonder if he's dreaming of being in the new Superman movie.

No matter what kind of mood I'm in this cat will always be able to cheer me up.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Darn that Murphy!!!

Let me begin by stating that food poisoning SUCKS.

So does the flu.

Yes, I know I'm stating the obvious here.

Allow me to backtrack a bit...
I had a wonderful weekend visit with Ledawit and Addis, where I got to play with my nephew and chat with his mommy for longer than a couple of hours. We even had a little bit of wine and watched Madagascar (hilarious movie - although it might have partly been the zinfandel). Got home Sunday night and had a nice dinner with Jeremy and went to bed happy.

Unfortunately this did not last very long - around 2am I woke up and realized that something wasn't right. After a mad dash to the bathroom, and a hell of a lot of pain, I decided it must be food poisoning because:
1. it felt like I'd been poisoned
2. when you get it you feel like you might die, and I most definitely thought I was dying
3. if you really want details about the effects of food poisoning - look online cause it's not that kinda blog

Needless to say it was a horrible night and had Jeremy not been there, I probably would have called 911 or something. He took care of me all the next day, even brought my laptop and brought me dinner in bed.

His reward?
Last night HE got sick.

So now we're not so sure about the food poisoning thing... could be the flu instead. (which is the popular consensus among friends and family)

Yes both of these things suck, but the fact that we don't know for sure about whether or not it's the flu means that we can't visit with Kim, Steve and Gordie as planned this week - since we don't want to make any of them sick before their trip (or at all for that matter).

We were supposed to get together with our friends on Thursday, then drive to the campground near where my cousin is getting married on Friday. Since it's much farther from Windsor than from London, this plan seemed like a very good one. Until that jerk Murphy showed up with his law and ruined everything.

I finally feel better, but it's been a few days, and poor Jeremy is still flat on his back, feeling terrible.

There were a dozen little things that needed to get done this week, including packing up the stuff we want my parents to ship to us in London once we get settled. After 3 days in bed, I've gotten very little done. Looks like tomorrow will involve a lot of running around for me (and hopefully a recovery for poor Jeremy).

I wanted to say that this couldn't have happened at a worse time, but to be honest there are a couple of other days that would probably be worse than this (like right before we get on the plane). I know I said I wasn't looking forward to the "looong goodbye", but I was hoping to have a much longer one that what we'll get now.

I realized tonight that no matter how much time there is with my friends before we say goodbye, I'll still miss them like crazy.

so here's to a possible New Year's in Amsterdam...

(I added these shots to cheer myself up - pretty neat shots that I took from the balcony last week)