Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Two Cats, a PODS and a First Aid Kit: My Move From Florida to South Carolina

I'm not the kind of guy who embraces change. I've certainly made a few leaps of faith in my life, but historically, I prefer routine. Among the most detested changes, moving ranks near the top.

To those of you who haven’t moved in a while, don’t. Having done it twice in the span of a year, I highly recommend against it – unless it’s to relocate to Greenville.

As moves go, the most recent was much less stressful than the previous one which was an exercise in self restraint. Watching two goons wrap a $200 sofa in $50 worth of clear tape and plastic to move it three miles is enough to make a guy’s blood boil. And it wasn't just the sofa; every crappy piece of furniture in my “1980s Chic” collection got the three-layers-of-plastic-and-two-rolls-of-tape treatment.

Then of course, when it came time to settle up – before they would unload anything at the new address – I discover they won’t take a check, and there is a 10% premium to use a credit card. This was a surprise because it wasn’t mentioned booking the truck when they took my credit card without any sort of premium. For the 40 min it took me to go to the bank, withdraw the cash and return, they sat on the back of the truck doing nothing. They then informed me that they would need to add an hour to the time charged because they had lost the 40 minutes while I was off “goofing” around. I thought my head would explode. 

Fortunately I didn't stroke out while dressing down the head felon in charge.
Launching into “bad Russ” mode, I dressed down the head felon like a drill sergeant in the face of a fresh recruit. I eventually lied and told him I was an editor for the Sun Sentinel – Ft. Lauderdale's newspaper – and his company would be prominently featured in an article about underhanded practices by South Florida moving companies. He got on the phone to his office that apparently instructed him to just unload the truck and forget about the trumped-up additional charge. Problem solved!

I swore never to use a moving company again. My $650 estimate morphed into a nearly $1,000 final bill. Three miles!

Keeping this promise to myself, the last move was much less stressful.

Word: A little elbow grease versus a stroke-inducing meltdown is highly preferable. 

My move from South Florida to Greenville was by PODS.

The PODS people did exactly what they promised when they promised. They managed to place my PODS exactly where I asked on the parking pad in front of my Boynton rental villa (I was at work for the delivery); picked it up on time; delivered it to the house in Greenville on the date promised; and my stuff arrived unharmed.

In Boynton the “gang” showed up on Sunday morning and we were loaded up in under three hours. It’s amazing how much one of those PODS will hold.

I spent the next morning sorting through all of the little odds and ends that, for whatever reason, didn’t make it into a box. This is when stuff just gets pitched out because you simply are tired of dealing with the flotsam of your life. Am I ever going to need three styrofoam coolers? I also cleaned the joint.

I had an extended multi-beer lunch with Hollie and dinner with Hollie, Amy and Scott. I spent my last night as a South Floridian at Amy’s. I knew the next morning was going to be rough. Amy and her clan are as close to family as I have in Florida. I would have preferred to simply skulk out of the house at 5 AM without any goodbyes, but that wasn’t an option. We got the girls off to school and I managed to have my goodbye with Amy without turning into a puddle.

Now to the part of the move that would really be challenging: the cats. 

Rambo in his typical state of sleep.
Rambo – my older male – was an adapter. He had lived in five homes, plus survived little extended vacations in two other homes before this move. Feed him, scratch his back and give him a place to sleep 18 hours a day and he was fine. Jazz – the younger female – not so much.

Already freaked because I had to shut both cats in the guest bathroom to keep them from running out the door on loading-the-POD day; and when finally released, they charged out of the bathroom to discover all the familiar stuff was gone, Jazz hadn’t eaten or drank anything (so much for doctoring her food and water with kitty tranqs) since early Sunday morning. She was out and about on Tuesday morning when I returned to load them into the car for the drive to Greenville, but never took her eyes off me. She was aware something was up and wasn’t taking any chances. 

Jazz: Always on high alert at DEFCON 1.
I figured I would only have one bite of this apple and planned my strategy accordingly. After loading the last of the stuff into the Yukon that GM provided for this excursion, I took a shower. I decided to attempt getting Jazz into her carrier while wearing just my undershorts. This decision was based on my experience trying to load her into a cat carrier during the last move. An effort resulting in my shirt being shredded, my hands and arms bloodied, and a cat pee shower. I would have done it stark naked, but as every guy reading this will affirm, you have to have at least a modicum of protection for Big Jake and the twins.

I padded around the house attempting to appear relaxed and normal. I circled around her with a hand towel in my hands. I padded over here and then over there, closing the gap between her and me with every pass. Finally something in the other room caught her attention and she took her eyes off me. I lunged for her, got her partially wrapped in the towel before she knew what was happening, and sprinted for the cat carrier. She went ballistic. How 8 pounds of cat can turn into a clawing, screaming, hissing crazed wildcat is something to witness….from afar.

I didn’t have a chance, never did. Her back legs were free of the towel and when they weren’t gouging me, they were spreadeagled, preventing me from pushing her completely through the cat carrier door. It was something akin to trying to shove a muskmelon through a knothole. Finally I yelled “no mas, no mas!” and momentarily gave up the struggle. She flew out of my hands, through the cat door and landed on the screened-in porch. It was time for attempt No. 2.

“I ain’t goin’ down again, Mick,” I muttered as bloody and beaten, I approached the porch slider. I stalked her slowly. Blood ran down my hands and arms and my tightee-whitees seemed like damn little protection, as I prepared for round two. The first go around seemed to have drained much of the fight from her. She just laid there as I approached. I got her wrapped up and although she struggled and hissed some, I managed to shove her into the carrier and got the door closed.

I didn’t worry about Rambo. He would go quietly into the carrier when it was time. He sat patiently by its open door as I got cleaned up and dressed. After putting him in his carrier, I put both carriers in the back seat of the Yukon. All it took was putting the Yukon in gear and rolling six inches to get both cats began meowing. As we picked up speed, their volume increased.

Now it was a test of wills and nerves. Mano a gato. I turned up the volume on the radio and tried to think happy thoughts. Five hours into the trip, near Jacksonville, Rambo pretty much gave up. He apparently realized that five hours of non-stop meowing was interfering with his sleep. He zonked out. Jazz kept it up for another two or three hours. Eventually, though, even she could only muster an occasional meow. The final two hours of driving passed in relative peace. 

The final destination.
Arriving in Greenville, I unloaded the Yukon, leaving the cats in their carriers in the living room. I needed cat litter and had to run to the store to buy it. At this point, they had been boxed up for 10 hours. I knew I had to go, so I figured they did too. After getting their litter box arranged, I opened the carriers. Rambo sauntered out as though a 10-hour car trip and arrival at a strange location was something he did everyday. Jazz crouched in the back of her carrier growling. I put out food and water, and went to bed.

By the next morning Jazz was out walking around and only seemed mildly ticked at me. When I opened the can of wet food, she was right there bumping into my leg along with Rambo. After eating, she even let me pick her up. Rambo didn’t fare nearly so well. He caught the brunt of her wrath. He couldn’t get within two feet of her without her hissing, growling and smacking him with her paw. He just stood there looking at her like, what did I do?

Things calmed down considerably over the course of the next few days. My friend, Bob and his wife, Meg’s uncle rolled into town the same day I arrived to work on one of his rental properties. Having them to go out to dinner with eased my transition. When the POD arrived the following Saturday, they came over and helped get the TV and wine fridge unloaded.

On my second full weekend, Amy, Scott and Hollie flew up to help me offload the big stuff and, of course, to do a little Greenville partying.

Jazz finally grew comfortable with her new surroundings. For Rambo, it was just someplace new to eat and sleep.



  1. It's funny. Three of our four cats will pretty much meow constantly the entire half-hour drive to the vet's -- assuming we have managed to sneak up on them and get them (individually) into the carrier. When it's time to take the fourth one, the one who lived the entire first part of his life outdoors and scrounging for food, goes right into the cage and doesn't let out a peep the entire drive. He's also the only one of the four who is comfortable with either of us picking him up. He sort of looks like Rambo, btw, except scruffier. One of our youngest cats looks very much like Rambo.

  2. Rambo made cat lovers out of several friends who swore they'd never like cats. He was just a big, friendly, affable lug who liked attention. Jazz is just the opposite.

  3. I'm glad the moving container rental worked out for you. At least you were moving to a home; some people have actually started building houses out of those containers. I'll bet it was nice not having to ascend a ramp to fill it.

    Paul |

    1. I've recommended moving this way to several friends. It was the easiest, most efficient move I've had.