Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Irish Heritage

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

While everyone is just a little bit Irish today, I pay tribute to my Mother's Irish lineage.

Mom's paternal 5xGreat-Grandparents, John and Jean Anderson, came to the United States from Ulster, Ireland (which is in northern Ireland)  in 1722 by way of Philadelphia and settled in Augusta, VA in 1735.

John acquired 747 acres of land on Middle River in Augusta County, VA by grant on June 3, 1738, and was also granted 270 acres of land on a branch of Catherys River, now called Anderson Branch.

In 1742, John was a member of Captain John Smith's Company of Augusta County Militia, and in 1756 he belonged to Captain Christian's Company of Militia.  He was one of the first elders of Old Stone Church (near Staunton, VA) and on October 30, 1745, Governor William Gooch commissioned John one of the first magistrates in Augusta.

John and Jean had 10 children - 3 daughters born in Ireland, then 5 sons and a daughter born in Augusta.  The fourth son, William, born in 1750, is from whom my Mother's line descends.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

March 4, 2014: The Toughest Day Of My Life

First off, this is a little long.  I've waited a year to get this off my chest, so bear with me.

Little was going the way it should, despite us doing everything we were supposed to do.  I'd notified the building that we were moving out three weeks in advance.  On February 12, 2014, I told them that I wanted to reserve the elevator for March 5th.  And since we lived on the 36th floor of the building, reserving the elevator was priority for getting all of our belongings down and into the moving truck.  The building concierge confirmed the date and time.  She said we could have the elevator reserved for all day March 5, 2014.

Experience told me that this seemed too simple.

This being Miami, I smartly decided to follow up.  If living here for the past year had taught me anything, it was that no one did what they said they were going to do.  I'd needed to constantly follow up with the post office, building management, utility companies, and building maintenance.  Even 128 of the 131 resumes I had sent over the past year had garnered no response.  Constant follow-up had become my way of life.

So the next day, February 13th, I stopped by the building front desk to confirm the reservation I had made the day before.  Not surprising, there was no record of it.  So when I resubmitted my request, I was told that I could not use the EAST elevator bank (located just outside our unit door which then opened near the loading dock downstairs), but would have to use one of the 4 elevators on the WEST side of the building instead.  It was as if I had sniffed glue.  All I could muster was a simple, "Um, what?"  Once the concierge repeated what she had said, I reminded her that in order for us to move our belongings out of our unit and down to the loading dock, we would need to pass through 3 sets of doors, a security gate, cross the outdoor pool deck area, dodge sunbathers while trying to avoid water damaging our belongings, pass through another security gate and another set of doors just to get to the west elevator bank on the other side of the building, ONLY TO THEN walk our items out the front lobby doors and around to the other side of the building to get to the loading dock where the van had to be parked.  To give you some idea, here is a diagram:

And here's another view:

I asked the concierge if she could see the absurdity in this. She just looked at me and said that's how it needed to be done.  I pointed out to her that this was not the way we had moved in to the building, so it would not be the way we move out of it.  Without excusing herself from the conversation, she walked into the "back office".  After I spoke with two more people, the building acquiesced and allowed us to use the east elevator bank instead, letting me know they were making an exception.

A week before our scheduled March 5th move out, the building management called to bump us up a day to March 4th.  When I asked why, they said others had scheduled to move in/out on the 5th.  My reminding them that I had already RESERVED the elevator and loading space for March 5th fell on deaf ears.  Luckily, Kevin was able to change his day off work at the last minute.

Three days before our now-scheduled March 4th move out, the building management called me again - this time to change our scheduled start time from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. because they scheduled someone else to start at 8 a.m.  SOMEONE ELSE?  How could SOMEONE ELSE reserve the elevator when we apparently weren't supposed to use it in the first place???  So again, I reminded them that we had the elevator RESERVED for the entire day.  It was then that they told me that I couldn't do that - I could only have it for a 2-hour window.  On this, they were unyielding.

At this stage, I lost track of the number of times I said "What the f*ck?" to someone's face.

So finally our actual move date arrived and we picked up the rental truck.  While waiting patiently for our turn to use the elevator, of course the people ahead of us took longer than scheduled.  Add to that, that as soon as they finished, the elevator stopped functioning.  The elevator inspection company came to fix it, but then forgot to turn it back on until Kevin chased after them.  Once the elevator was functioning again and we asked the building concierge for the key to lock the elevator for use, we were told that because it was a public elevator we could not lock it for use and had to share it with the rest of the building.  All 36 floors of tenants.  This slowed the process immensely.

So to sum up at this point - every conversation in which I had involved the building management about our move out of the building ended up being a colossal waste of time.  "Welcome to Miami", indeed.

To our credit, Kevin and I were well-prepared for the move.  Everything was boxed and we had a packing plan.  It took many trips in the elevator, but once we were finally able to start moving at 1 p.m., we managed to get everything loaded in 2.5 hours and were done by 3:30.

This was when an already horrible day turned worse.

The plan was that I would drive 95% of our belongings back to Chicago and move back into our condo while Kevin remained in Miami for an additional 6 weeks to work out a notice at his job.  Neither of us were fans of being separated for 6 weeks, especially since we had come to rely on each other so much for the past year.  But I was starting a new job in Chicago soon and this seemed like the best plan.

But because it was now much later in the day than we had planned (we had originally planned to be done by 10:30 AM), I reached out to the building manager and asked permission to park our now completely loaded truck in a small, hardly-used, gated lot on the building property overnight so that I could start the drive to Chicago early the next morning.  I pointed out that due to the building's incompetence and constant rescheduling, it was too late to begin a road trip (especially starting in rush hour).  The rental truck was too tall to fit into any of the area parking garages and we were not keen on leaving the truck with everything we own sitting on the street overnight.  Without hesitating, she simply said, "no".

So with no other choice, and exhausted, I looked at Kevin and said, "well I guess I need to get going then".  Neither of us was prepared for this.  After so much disappointment the entire day, I now had to get into a truck and drive away from the man I love, leaving him in a city that I know he hated and perhaps not seeing him for 6 more weeks.  It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  We both tried to keep brave faces, but the pain was excruciating.  He walked out onto the street and stopped traffic to motion me out of the loading dock, I took one more look at him fighting back tears, mouthed "I love you", and then drove away.

I honestly don't know how I made it out of Miami.  For 20 minutes, I fought the urge to turn around.  Any chance I had to see our building from any street, I took it - thinking Kevin might have gone up to the pool deck to watch me go and I could see him - tiny him - just for a second.  I didn't want to miss that chance.  Miraculously, I didn't crash into anyone.  With a face full of tears, I cursed the city and yelled "I LOVE YOU BUN" probably a hundred times.

At some point, probably 20 miles into the drive, I accepted life as it was, took a deep breath, and just drove.  I didn't even turn on the radio.  I finally stopped for the night in Valdosta, GA, just over the Florida/Georgia line.  It took me 7 hours, but I wanted to just get the hell out of Florida.  The trip home took me three days.

The eventual bright spot in all of this, is that 7 weeks after this horrific day, Kevin proposed.  :-)