Thursday, December 8, 2016

Packing and Unpacking

            One consequence of all the packing that Kim and I had to do for our move to Traverse City is that we are more or less forced to unpack on the other end. As it turns out, this requires a rather specialized set of skills.

            I had previously been disqualified on the packing end. Kim told me, “You pack like a guy” (when she says “like a guy,” it’s usually not in the context of a compliment), and assigned me to other duties such as driving to Walmart to get more tape, or carrying heavy boxes from the lower floor to the upper floor. She did allow me to pack books, although after opening one of my superbly packed boxes of my books, she “suggested” that I leave the packing of her books to her. I also packed the car with items that we did not trust the movers to take – valuables such as her collection of three hornet’s nests, her cocoon collection, and her Baltimore Oriole nest. Kim actually placed these items securely in the car. I had carried some heavy boxes out to the car and arranged them, under Kim’s supervision, as a support structure.

            I mentioned my packing difficulties to each of my sons. Phillip said, “Is there a wrong way to pack?” Jeff said, “You just toss things in a box, right?” Comments like that tend to make me believe in genetics.

            One of my most important unpacking skills is driving a car. I drove several carloads of our stuff to our condo to be unpacked. (This counts as unpacking.) I also drive stuff back and forth to between the storage unit and the condo as we figure out what we do and don’t need in the condo. While I do this, Kim is in the condo actually unpacking boxes and putting kitchen gear away in places I can’t find.

            Another unpacking talent I have is riding the elevator. I carry boxes from the car to the elevator, push the appropriate buttons (for security reasons, there’s a code), and up we go to our third floor condo. Then back down to get more boxes. I’m pretty good with the elevator, though on Sunday it broke and I had to lug our collection of Atlanta sewer balls up the stairs. I don’t think I was the one to break the elevator.

            Yet another skill involves carrying old wrapping paper down the hall to the recycling bin. A related skill: breaking down the cardboard boxes that we won’t need for moving stuff from the storage unit in a year. Tearing up large boxes, if done clumsily, can be a good outlet for frustrations.

            One of my unpacking-related responsibilities is to get all the wiring set up so we can finally stop unpacking to watch a movie on Netflix. So far this has not been successful as I have not located the remote needed to make Netflix happen. I’m sure I tossed it into one of the 800 boxes we have in storage.

            Once I locate the remote (they should come with locating features like the one on my car key that I use to find my car), I will need to deal with all the cables that are accumulating near the corner of the room where cables enjoy gathering. It will probably involve drilling holes in the oak bookcase we will some day slide over to cover the section of the wall where all the cables emerge, like inquisitive and threatening snakes. I’m hoping I can just toss them into a box and make them disappear. This counts as packing.

            My final and perhaps most important talent as an unpacker is taking Kim out to dinner. We were living here for days without a functioning kitchen, waiting for our appliances to arrive. This meant we had to dine out, but not that far out as our condo complex features a number of excellent restaurants. Sometimes my contribution involved riding on the elevator with breakfasts brought back from Cuppa Joe. I found myself more than capable of such multi-tasking (getting food + working elevator). This didn’t have much to do with unpacking, but Kim would occasionally find herself tired from all the work she was doing, so I felt I should do my share.

Comments and advice welcome at


  1. It reminds me of packing for our year long sailing trip. We rented our house furnished, but that meant we had to empty out all the closets, kitchen cupboards, buffet cabinet and store everything in the basement. Then we had to pack for a year long trip on the boat. We then had to clean out the boat we bought because the previous owner was a hoarder. That meant taking about 60 huge garbage bags up about 60 steps to unload them at the owner's garbage site. Then we we sold the boat, had to totally get rid of more stuff and pack our personal belongings. Then when we came home, had to fill up our closets and cupboards with our stuff. Before I met Jim, I had moved around 30 times, at least. So, I feel as if I have a phd in moving and packing. I also forgot to mention the first sailing trip, 30 plus years ago, when we had to put everything in storage, including my car. The beat goes on!

  2. Dave, as I've witnessed, your elevator skills are stellar.