What else can go wrong today?

We started out this morning by failing spectacularly to capture my cat, Hilary. She sits on my lap every night, but that doesn’t mean she lets me pick her up. Our clever plan was to catch her while she was eating and put her in our dog’s crate, where she could stay until we reached Washington. My husband’s brother is due in today, and we figured we wouldn’t be seeing her once he arrived, but certainly not after our helpers get here tomorrow and start tearing the place apart.

Last time I tried to pick her up to try to treat her for fleas, I made the mistake of following my husband’s advice and trying to pick her up by her nape. I have the scars to prove how bad an idea that was. Naturally, my husband believes he could have done it. So,this morning I left it up to him. He threw a towel over her, as advised by a friend. Now he has three scars. We have put her dish in the crate in hopes we’ll walk in sometime and find her in there eating. If that doesn’t work, I don’t know what we will do.

A high quality padlock
A high quality padlock

So, on to the storage facility, where we were picking up a moving truck and clearing out our unit. That went just great except that my husband insisted on locking our unit every time we made a trip to the truck. There was literally no one else there.

On our last visit to the unit, the key broke off in the padlock. Of course, these storage people have to cut locks off all the time, luckily for us. She just brought in a saw and cut it apart. But there are still several hours left in the day. What else might happen?

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Bye bye bye

Wednesday was my last day at my workplace, a large state agency in Austin, Texas. An incident the week before I left kind of typified my experiences during the past few years.

As the lone technical writer in a large IT organization, I didn’t belong to any one team. I should have belonged to all the teams, since I did work for all of them. I wrote the Help for about 30 different software applications, did other editing and writing work, and taught writing classes to the agency. For one project, I read every single page of our web site and worked with the many content authors to try to improve their writing. I also belonged to a department, one in which all the other members are business analysts. Believe me, it has always been all about the business analysts. In short, instead of belonging to all the teams, I belonged to none.

So long, large ugly building.
So long, large ugly building.

So, a typical event. Along with the other people in my department, last week I was invited to a birthday lunch for a coworker, which I accepted. When the time came, I looked around and could not find any of them. They left without me. I knew where they were going, but I do not usually have a car at work, so I could not follow. This group included my boss, and the department only has six people in it, so I wasn’t overlooked because of the sheer number of people involved. Not only that, but they only sit one row away from me in our cube farm. No one stuck a head around the corner and asked me if I was going. Need I point out that this was the last chance any of them would have had to go to lunch with me?

Individually, these are all nice people. They just seldom treated me as part of their group.

A few weeks ago, too, I got a talking-to by my boss, who said someone had complained that I made too many personal phone calls. Aside from there being no rule about personal phone calls, the actual truth is that usually I go for months making no phone calls at all. It’s just that with the house sale, and the moving, and the storage unit, and the packing, I have had to make many in a short period of time. You would think that anyone could understand that. When I was telling another manager about it, he said, “I never hear a peep out of you.” Our division actually usually doesn’t care about things like that, but we’re sitting next to another division that does. But let’s not say anything about the interminable vapid conversations I have to listen to every day from the cube next to me in the other division (and snoring, when that person falls asleep, several times a week). I guess having personal conversations is okay as long as you aren’t doing personal business on the phone. I guess sleeping is okay, too.

Pay is also a big issue for me here, because for the past six years I have received a rating of five out of five on my reviews but have only had one raise. Part of the time we had a wage freeze, but when we didn’t have one, attention was not paid to the fact that my pay had fallen behind that of other employees who used to make less than me (even after I pointed it out to them). I do the work that was done by four writers when I started here. I stay on schedule and deliver quality work. I knew that coming to work for the state would mean taking a pay cut, but for the first few years I worked here, it looked like I would eventually recover the pay rate I was making before I started. I did not. 15 years ago I was making $10K more than I make now. Thank god for the benefits, which continue after I retire.

A friend at work has urged me to write a “f–k you” essay about our workplace, but this is about as close as I can get. I know it’s not funny. She could have done a much better job of entertaining you all, because she is hilarious. Let’s just say, I’m glad to be finally getting the f–k out of Dodge.

A relatively peaceful few days

If any of you are waiting to find out what happened to our money and our moving containers, the last few days have been relatively pain free, except that I’m still working and too tired at night to pack. Our money showed up on Monday, whew!

I stole this image off the internet.
I stole this image off the internet.

We had more conversations with U/MF about removing our shipping container, and it finally got picked up on Monday. I have to say that the person we’ve been talking to at that company has been very nice and has tried to take care of us. Still, we are understandably not happy with them.

There was a slight bobble with the other shipping container company this morning, but it all worked out all right. They didn’t tell me they were going to call me a day ahead of time to confirm. They just said they would call the day of delivery, and if we didn’t answer the phone, they wouldn’t deliver. So, when I got to work this morning and had a phone call from them on my work phone from the day before (after work) asking to confirm the delivery, I was anticipating problems. But my husband reports that the new shipping container was delivered this morning. Despite my calling them back and changing my work phone to my home phone, they still called me at work to tell me they were coming. This is what comes of not having a real cell phone. I have one of those antique pay per use phones and I keep it turned off most of the time. I am not in the habit of handing out the number, so I don’t know it. I guess I need to start using it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in Washington, so I’ll have to get a real phone.

What else could possibly go wrong?

Two important events today. The first was that I had to submit my resignation letter at work and get it signed so that HR would fill out a form for my husband to submit to get Medicare, saying he would no longer be covered by my insurance.

That went okay until I got home, at which time I got an email from my boss saying that HR was alarmed by my resignation date and did I know I wouldn’t get a very big check for October if I left October 5? Well, duh! And let’s not mention that I already changed my resignation date once because of a discussion with HR. They also said that they usually didn’t “allow” people to retire except at the end of the month (our retirement agency said they didn’t care when I retired), even though the HR person I talked to said they did it all the time. They also suggested I use my vacation time up to fill up October, something I had explicitly been told by another HR person was not allowed by the agency (called “terminal leave”). In other words, I have to be there on my last day, and I ain’t flying back for it from Washington. So, after I stopped cursing these people who all tell me different things, we went to close on our house.

This is what we got so far for our house.
This is what we got so far for our house.

That went just dandy until my husband checked our bank accounts. Instead of paying off our mortgage, the money for that got deposited into our checking account. That is easily remedied. My husband just needs to transfer it over. But the other sum, our six-digit profit, is nowhere to be found. We hope it’s not in someone else’s account being spent, but the title company can’t do anything about it until Monday, because the credit union is closed.

And in the meantime, I started wondering about our storage container, which was supposed to be picked up today. You might have read my last post, where I reported that the local franchise for the company went out of business and I was going to have to get my second storage container from another company at a higher cost. Well, that made me worry about the container we already have that is full of half our worldly goods, but yesterday they assured us they would pick it up today.

In the meantime, I scheduled another shipping company to bring a second container on Monday. Well, guess what? Today I heard from the first company that they were looking around for equipment so that they could pick up our container. So, I had to get on the phone to the other company to delay our second container being dropped off, because there is not enough room for two. And although she assured me it would be picked up on Monday, she assured me yesterday that it would be today. I am happy as a lark.

 

 

On the subject of companies to never do business with again

Today was a nightmare. It is one day before we are supposed to close, and I thought it would be a slow one in which my husband packed the storage container and I packed boxes. My husband was preparing for the storage container to be picked up and a new one delivered in its place tomorrow.

First we got a call from the moving company asking if they could pick up the container today. My husband, having procrastinated, had actually wasted the coolish morning doing other things that could be done anytime, so I had to say no. He is out there now working in the heat, rearranging the stuff for the umpteenth time. At some time, he will have to decide that he’s done as good a job as he can, but not now.

Then they called again and asked if they could at least drop off the other container. This seemed odd, but I told them I wasn’t sure it would fit in the driveway with the one that is there now. If I’d known what was coming, I would have said, “Heck, yeah!”

Then we proceeded to be deluged by calls. Some of them were from the different moving people I was trying to coordinate, one company coming to pick up a bunch of stuff today and take it to Goodwill, another company coming on our moving day to help pack and load. So, we were constantly on the phone for our business, but we also got as many calls as we ever did before the Do Not Call list.

We thought the kicker came when our realtor’s company called to say that we needed to do some energy audit required by the city of Austin when you’re selling a home. Why hadn’t we heard of this before, I asked? We’re closing tomorrow! Since our buyer had already done five inspections of our house, our realtor had assumed they did it, even though it is usually ordered by the seller. He also thought it wouldn’t be needed since the buyer intends to gut the house, but the buyer has been the biggest pain imaginable. It was not going to affect the closing, he said. So, I had to get on the phone and get the auditor out. Luckily, he could come today. For a cash sale that was supposed to be easy, this has been the hardest I’ve ever been involved in.

But here’s the kicker. The auditor had no sooner arrived than I got a call from our moving and storage company. I hesitate to name it, as starting tomorrow, they will have temporary custody of half of my worldly goods, but it is a well-known company, a conglomerate of two old-fashioned moving companies, and it’s name has the initials U-MF. It turns out that we can’t have the second storage container at all, because their Austin office just closed. They suggested we call one of several OTHER companies.

When they say "Do it yourself," they mean it literally!
When they say “Do it yourself,” they mean it literally!

Can you believe this? If it was my company, I would get on the horn to Dallas or Houston or some other U-MF office and tell them to get a storage container out there pronto. They did nothing.

So,we had to call another company, and that was also a trip. But the end result is we’re paying about $2K more for the move, because the second container was going to be an add-on and now it is a first container from another company.

The reason I called this company in the first place is that back in the olden days, when people used trucks to move, I used them twice and they were great (the MF part of the merger). Not any more.

Two days of ups and downs

Well, such a time we have had. It started out Monday, which our realtor had told us was the last day our buyers could make changes to our contract. I had a friend over helping me pack (thanks so much to my dear friend), and I was on pins and needles all day obsessively checking my email.

When no word came in by 5 PM, I shot an email off to our realtor about it and my husband and I went out to Amy’s for ice cream to celebrate. Too soon, as it turned out, for when I came home, I had an email from my realtor that said “Tomorrow at 5. Sorry.” He tends to be succinct.

So, on Tuesday, we had a message at 9 AM saying that “an amendment will be coming shortly.” We waited all day until almost 4 PM only to find out that our buyers wanted us to come down on our price by $80K! They had five inspectors come out over the past 10 days, and the buyer’s agent said that the house was in horrible shape and that everyone who had looked at it had said to tear it down. But they can’t tear it down, because it sits right on the creek, which is no longer allowed by the city. If they want to tear it down, they have to move it back from the creek.

Why it wouldn't be convenient to try to multiple list
Why it wouldn’t be convenient to try to multiple list

Now, we have been living in it comfortably (or, we would have been comfortable if my husband wasn’t a hoarder) for more than 20 years. A few minor things need repair, but I couldn’t imagine it was in that bad of shape. But on the other hand, we had moved pretty far past being able to rapidly put it on the market. Our agent offered to come over and take pictures and get it up on multiple listings by today, and that would have been possible until two days ago, but the past few days we had amassed lots of boxes that haven’t gone out into the pod yet, and we had not had the cleaners come out this week because of the chaos.

My husband was all for accepting their offer, but he has wanted to take every offer they’ve made. I talked it over with our agent, and we decided to offer a $20K reduction. My husband panicked after we decided this and called the agent back to ask him to accept the offer, but luckily, he had already told them our price.

Luckily, because they came back almost immediately splitting the difference, which means that we still made more than their original offer. We accepted that, and we’re still closing on Friday, cash. The main reason I decided to accept it is we would have had to disclose anything the inspections found, which might make it hard to make a higher selling price. We had already decided to move anyway, but we would have moved out to Washington not knowing how long it would take to sell our house, which would have had us being very short until that money came in. Overall, I feel okay about how things worked out, if a little roughed up. And, of course, I would have liked to have the extra money.

On to our next challenges!

 

As if there’s not enough going on

Once we had our house sold (we think), I made my moving plans based on a conversation I had last year with our retirement people. That person said that because my insurance covered me for the entire month, and I was turning 65 in November, I could retire October 1 and be covered until October 31, with Medicare kicking in November 1. Since October 1 is a Saturday, I assumed that meant October 3.

I didn’t go back to the retirement organization until today because we have been up in the air about a retirement date with the house sale not being quite settled. However, this weekend my husband and I decided I should just retire on time, and we would use the money from the sale of our Ft. Davis property to tide us over if the house deal fell through. We think that is unlikely. It is more likely that they will try to renegotiate unless they find something serious wrong with the house, which we don’t expect. Well, we expect them to try to renegotiate, but there is nothing serious that we know of.

So, today I went to the agency that handles our retirement, the same one that told me I could retire October 1, and the first thing they told me was that our insurance that is part of my retirement package would not cover me until December 1, since I turn 65 in November. So, that means I either have to depend on Medicare fully for November or spend more than $600 on Cobra. And Medicare takes several months to kick in. She said it should come through in February.

Be your own retirement counselor? Fat chance!
Be your own retirement counselor? Fat chance!

During that conversation, I was told that the retirement people didn’t care what day in October I retired (which I have to do, since we are supposed to be out of our house by October 15). But when I took a form that my husband needs for Medicare to our HR folks, they told me that our retirement office only retires people the last day of the month, so I can’t retire October 3. It turns out that is not exactly correct. I can resign then and take an itty bitty paycheck, and go on the books as retiring October 31, but I have to wait until I have made enough money during the month to pay for my cut of the insurance, which is not October 3. I explained about the house, and we picked out October 5 as being a better date.

The retirement people had told me I could use vacation until the end of the month if I wanted to, but it turns out that my agency doesn’t allow me to do that. Now I have to go back and see if submitting my retirement letter would disallow me for the week of vacation I already have approved for next week.

It’s not like I don’t have enough to think about, is it?