A Surly Serbian Marie Kondo Broke My Shit

A Surly Serbian Marie Kondo Broke My Shit

By Don Hall

As the movers opened up the double doors on the side of the giant eighteen-wheel truck and three boxes started to tumble out from the top of a chaotic and crushing stack, I figured it was good that Matthew was still offsite and Dana and Kelli were running to the bank to grab an additional tip for these guys.

Three months ago, Dana and I did our own version of Marie Kondo culling in preparation for our move to Las Vegas. We sold furniture we decided was probably past its prime, took boxes and boxes of clothing we no longer wore or wanted, unloaded used books to Uncharted Books. Contrary to the getting rid of things that no longer sparked joy, this was far more pragmatic. We were moving two thousand miles away and had the opportunity to slim down our footprint, so we did. Most of it was easy.

That hybrid elliptical machine the size of half my Prius? Impractical to load it up and cart it halfway across the country — and where would I put it if it came? The clunky coffee table I got from a closed down elementary school auction? Gone. The rolling rocker I bought from Joe for $25 a decade ago and that Dana hated? No sweat.

All told, we sold, gave away, or dropped in the alley, about a third of our worldly possessions, which made the things we kept more meaningful. We put thought into everything we decided to pack. Some of it was sentimental, some was practical. Everything was intentional.

Things To Know When Moving Across Country:

An empty house grows in size in your perspective when you have a limited amount of time in it.

Your stuff will be handled by local movers loading it into a truck to take to a warehouse. It will be handled by the workers in the warehouse moving it to the cross-country truck. It will be handled by the movers driving it across the expanse and dumped into your new home. None of these workers gives a shit about your bobblehead that Joe had made for you for your birthday with your head on a Superman body.

You will pack more clothes than you ever wear or have room for.

The night before the truck came with our stuff, we all decided that one person would be the point guard for them. I was the person designated to tell them where to put things. Thus, I was the one person witness to the cascading avalanche of boxes and furniture that, perhaps in Chicago had been stacked safely, in the two thousand-mile trip had become an almost criminal disregard for anything remotely labeled as “fragile.”

Yes, the furniture was wrapped in moving blankets and taped to the gills, but as the guys tore through the covering, chair legs were snapped (“Uhm. I broke that chair,” one dude mumbled) and boxes unceremoniously dropped with a thud on the concrete driveway. I couldn’t tell where things went because they were often so blanketed that it was hard to figure out what it was except for vague shapes.

To be fair, these were nice, hardworking guys. Pleasant but perfunctory. Doing their job. I went over to the crew chief, a large, smiling Serbian cat with a five o’clock shadow and a pot belly. “Wow,” I said. “Looks like a lot of stuff got damaged in transit.”

He got very serious, as if he had been approached with the same thought a million times before and wasn’t looking to have some faux activist pull out a camera phone and record him. “A move like this will come with about 10 percent damage. Anything damaged should be documented and the company will compensate you for it.”

I smiled a dark grin. “Just take a picture of it and send it along with a bill? What’re the odds we’ll get any money for it?” He pauses, thinking about his answer but I know the odds. “I mean, shit in one hand, wish in the other and see which fills up first?”

He laughed in surprise but didn’t answer.

Ten percent.

As if a low-grade Thanos snapped his finger and a tenth of everything I own disappeared into the MCU mythology.

More Things To Know When Moving Cross Country:

If it isn’t in a box and it’s not furniture, they’re going to toss it in a big box randomly. This will guarantee a bit of destruction of your property.

Tubs are great but make sure they are strong tubs because the weaker ones crack and shit just spills out.

If you have something in your home that is irreplaceable, take it yourself.

To provide indisputable proof that life is chaos and there is no justice in the world, Matthew’s four boxes filled with nothing more than more empty boxes made it unscathed. As we continue to unbox the sum totals of our lives in Chicago to fully populate our space in Las Vegas, the gravity of what is here that was there accumulates. The tiny black holes of what has been lost or broken creates a unique kind of magnetism that pulls at the parts of me I didn’t anticipate.

The broken and now useless cutting board signals the memories of a hundred meals that are long since eaten and the comradely of those brief culinary delights: the house warming party at 1944 Division; the first white chili I made for Dana; the night Tanner and his wife came over for dinner shortly after DMJ started working at Uncharted Books. The missing digital scale, while easily replaceable, still contains the days and weeks and months of focused training and weight loss that accompanied a chunk of my forties.

So much of it, however, underscores the finality of the move and the fleeting nature of stuff we hoard throughout our days. I’m reminded of the slow build to the ending of the original Chuck Heston Planet of the Apes when they discover the items in the cave including the plastic talking baby doll. Those things meant something to someone but the someone was long since erased, leaving the stuff. In a Pixar world, that stuff contains memories of its own, but we don’t live in a Pixar world.

Marie Kondo is a reaction to our need to pare down, prune our excesses, live a less materialistic life. The nameless, faceless movers simply are that need and remove choice in the equation.

On the other hand, every off-strip casino here gives you a free deck of cards for signing up for their loyalty programs so I can fill the void left by the movers with that shit, right?

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