Another Moving Experience
As detailed some weeks agoand, yes, I’m aware that it has been weeks since my last entry here (and I’m a little disappointed that no one bugs me about that anymore like they used to, which either means you now expect to wait weeks for me to write anything new and/or no one’s reading this anymore anyway (and, no, this is not an invitation to write and bug me about this because if you’ve written me any email in the past few weeks you also know that my response time is, shall we say, lacking))I’m in the process of moving from one coast to the other.
It isn’t as if I haven’t done this before. By my count, this is my sixth move in nine years, so the whole process is pretty boring to me now. But I decided to spice this particular move up a bit by moving 3,000 miles, by selling my car, by not having a job waiting at the other end, by ridding myself of half my belongings and by managing to misschedule (disschedule?) almost every piece of the puzzle so that here, less than a week before I myself am transported via Delta Airlines to my new place of residence, I am sitting in my old place with nothing to do. Literally.
See, originally the moving company, Allied Moving (except now Alliedwith the big, orange tractor-trailers, has been consumed by NorthAmerican, with the big red, white and blue tractor-trailers) was going to pack up my belongings yesterday and then load on Saturday. Plus, the people who are coming to pick up all the stuff I’m not taking, which I am donating (for the tax deduction as well as the good deed crap) to AmVets, is showing up on Friday. Or that was the schedule.
Best Laid Plans
What that meant was that I’d have access to my TV and computer until Saturday, since I was packing my own computer equipment (do you keep your boxes, like a good anal retentive should?) and they don’t pack TVs, they just throw them in the trailer. But on Monday night, Allied called and said that there was a reschedule and that they would be packing and loading on Tuesday. So I had to break down my desktop (this is being composed on a laptop) and put it away. And then as I began thinking about it, I realized that this little unforeseen rescheduling would mean that I’d be spending a week in my apartment with, frankly, nothing to keep me entertained.
Go ahead, say you hate TV. There’s nothing on, it’s boring, it wastes your precious time. Say that the Web is another form of TV. Say it cuts you off from humanity, that you can’t find anything, that there’s nothing to “do” out here. Then have someone come into your home and take them both away. And your bed. And most of your clothes. And figure that going to the store to buy food is mostly a waste of time because you have no dishes, no utensils, no pots or pans.
So that’s where I am at the moment. Later this week, I’ll be selling my Honda so I won’t have a car, either. Luckily, my neighborhood is situated within walking distance (and when you have no wheels, it’s amazing how your perception of “walking distance” changes) of two movie theatres and lots of places to order food delivered. And I’ve discovered that I won’t really miss the car that much.
You know that “pride of ownership” crap the car companies hand us? Like having a car automatically justifies our existence? Well, when you think about it, there’s not a lot of reason to have a car anymore. At least if you live in or near a city. And especially if you live in San Francisco.
Number one, there’s nowhere to park. Nowhere. I am convinced that people in San Francisco buy cars only so they can park them permanently so they can say they have parking. They never actually drive them. When I was out there looking for a place to live, I found out almost immediately that having a car is a detriment. When I drove the rental in from the airport to the hotel, I circled that building in an ever-widening spiral in a vain attempt to find somewhere to park. I finally waited on the street outside the entrance to a public parking lot where we had to wait for a car to exit so we could go in and take their placeand pay for the privilege.
Plus, when you do find a place, you must park bumper-to-bumper with the cars around you. This leads to ample opportunities to scrape, scratch and dent your (or your parking mate’s) vehicle. And if you’re like me, every little ding on your paintjob makes your hands ball into fists because “no one has any consideration for other people’s property!” anymore. Which is mostly true. Dent other people’s crap all you want, but touch mine and you’re lunchmeat.
So, ditch the Honda. Sure, I’m still paying it off. Yes, I bought the extended warranty. Absolutely I took care of it like it was a baby, waxing it once a year, keeping the wiper fluid filled, using the touch-up paint to touch it up. But what’s the use of having a nice car if I have to park it six blocks away and leave it to the mercy of, well, everything the world can throw at it? Plus which, I’d mostly be working from home anyway. Where was I going to go?
Some observations about car ownership:
- Convenience: Go where you want, when you want, stay as long as you want, leave when you want.
- Adoration: Some people will envy you if you own a nice car.
- Friendship: People who don’t own a car will bum rides off you. They have to be your friend.
- Power: If you get off on pissing people off, think of the opportunities! Why, cell phone usage alone can make other people want to drive right into you. What power!
- Expense: Loan or lease payments. Insurance payments. Gas. Mechanic. Repairs. Washes.
- Inconvenience: Nowhere to park.
- Annoyance: Other drivers, who all drive worse than you.
- Value: A new car’s value drops thousands of dollars the minute you drive it off the lot.
- Envy: Some people will envy you so much if you own a nice car that they’ll key the paint job or slash a tire or break a window.
- Abuse: People who don’t own a car will bum rides off you.
- If the weather is particularly bad and public transportation isn’t running, you have an excuse not to go to work. With a car, they still expect you to try to make it in.
To be fair, I’m not actually moving out there without a job waiting. I mean, I already had one very good offer that I turned down, and even now I cannot say precisely why I turned it down because any sane person would’ve taken it in an instant. It paid a lot of money, it came with benefits and underlings, it had some pre-IPO stock attached to it. But for whatever reason, it didn’t feel right.
Keep in mind that when David Siegel mentioned he could hook me up with a little company in Seattle four years ago, that didn’t feel right to me, either. That was for a bookseller called amazon.com. (Ironic musical interlude here, cut to commercial.) When this company goes public and takes off, the sound of me kicking myself will no doubt be heard around the globe.
But money isn’t everything. It’s only 99% of everything.
Plus, everyone I spoke to about the offer (with one exception) told me it wasn’t right or words to that effect. The person who really swung the pendulum back the other way for me was my pal Leslie who said, “you’re going to an awful lot of trouble and expense to put yourself somewhere that’ll make you happy. If this won’t make you happy, why do it?” She has a way of making sense like that. It gets irritating after a while.
So, off I go to Cali to make something of myself. Everyone else seems to have more confidence in me than I do, but that’s hardly unusual. It’s sort of how I lead my life. “Expect the worse, and anything good comes as a pleasant surprise. Expect the best, and your bound to be disappointed.” Probably not the most optimistic outlook there is, but it’s worked for me so far.
They tell me I won’t get my stuff until around the 21st, so expect some more updates between now and then. After all, what else have I got to do?
December 8, 1999