Okay, so the U-Haul guy. First of all, let me just tell you that I dislike...err...hauling U-Hauls in the first place because they inevitably make the vehicle you're driving feel all shaky and weavy, and if there are two things I don't want to feel while hurtling down an interstate at 70+ miles per hour, those would be them. Well, to be fair, I suppose there are a LOT of things I wouldn't want to feel while hurtling down the interstate, like "extremely nauseated", or "drunk as a skunk" or "attacked by crazed cat" (which, by the by, the last of those has happened, and have I already told you about it? Let me look...no, I have not!)
I'm in college. Some break has occurred, maybe Christmas or Thanksgiving, because it was cold and I remember that because I remember the sweater I was wearing - pink, fuzzy, boatneck. Anyway, I was going to be away from college and my apartment for at least a week, so I loaded up my suitcase, an assortment of CD's (enough to last through a seven hour drive), and my cat, Jack. Jack was riding along with me in the front passenger seat and seemed very content to just curl up in a kitty ball and sleep. I was happy to be on the road, too. I am that kind of person who always looks forward to a long, solitary drive because you get to listen to whatever you want, sing as loud as you want, and get all that pesky thinking out of the way so that you don't have to do much of it again for a while. So all is well in the car, right?
Cue NOTHING, and all of a sudden Jack The Cat has leapt out of the seat next to mine and has somehow wound all four of his (clawed) legs around my right arm and is simultaneously shredding my arm and biting my hand. So, OUCH. And, PANIC. And, as you might have ascertained, I was indeed driving down an interstate at at least 70 miles per hour. I honestly had no idea what to do, so I just kind of kept driving and started shrieking and trying to extract my arm from Jack's claws and/or teeth. After a while, I began to suspect that weaving all over the highway whilst wrestling with a cat might not be looked favorably upon by the highway patrol, so I decided to pull over. On the side of the road, I managed to detach Jack, who was seriously pissed, and I just kind of sat there, shaking, trying to figure out what had just happened. After a bit Jack settled down and curled up again, this time in the backseat, and I decided to go on my way. I probably made it about 5 miles down the road before a black, furry object from the back of the car missile-shot himself forward and into the back of my right shoulder. He quickly wound his evil claws around my right arm again, and set to work shredding what was left of the skin there.
I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but my only response to this second unmitigated attack was to start crying. I don't know. I was just so frustrated and kind of scared and SUPER MAD about being attacked repeatedly WHILE DRIVING, I mean, geez. It was like Jack had no respect for the car or the highway, or anyone else on the road. And I had always thought he was more of a sensitive cat than that. So there I am, driving east at 70 miles an hour, crying, with a biting, clawing cat attached to my arm. I pulled over again, with the serious intent of throwing Jack The Cat, beloved pet, into the ditch on the shoulder of the road and driving off without him. After a while I decided against this plan (mainly because I shared Jack The Cat with my roommate/best friend and explaining, after the fact, why throwing your pet out into the wilderness of West Texas and then leaving him there seemed like a good idea at the time was going to be difficult, even for me). So I emptied out one of my suitcases, put Jack inside of it, and zipped it about 9/10 of the way up. Then, I put the whole thing into the trunk of my car and resumed my traveling, feeling pretty secure that Jack could not escape.
Of course about an hour later I felt bad for stupid Jack and so I got him out of the bag and put him back in the car, baiting him with small bites of a TCBY frozen yogurt I had just purchased for myself. After eating the yogurt Jack seemed to calm right back down and turn back into a somewhat pleasant animal and traveling companion. That is, until he started dry-heaving and puked up the yogurt into the cupholder. He puked up that yogurt for the rest of the ride home, about once an hour, every hour. Every time I would see a "nice" gas station I would stop to get more napkins to try and contain the situation, and so that I could go into the bathroom and try to extract pink fuzzy fibers (see? this is why I remember the sweater!) out of my shredded and bleeding arm. Pleasant trip.
Okay! So I don't like pulling U-Haul trailers, and this is mainly because (besides the shaking and the weaving) the last time I had to pull a U-Haul it was a less than stellar experience. I had just graduated from college and was bringing all of my belongings back east and I had rented a trailer because I had a couch, amongst other large items, and there was really no other option, especially since NO ONE FROM MY FAMILY CAME TO HELP; THANKS GUYS. Anyway. I was all packed up and planning on leaving the next morning, but, you see, I had just met Cody, and we were kind of IN LOVE, and I was sitting in my empty room of the apartment I shared with three girls, thinking about how stupid it was that I was THERE, and Cody was SOMEWHERE ELSE, where I was not. And how I could remedy that, if I would only get into the truck and start driving. You know how this goes. It's that silly stage where everything makes sense. $500 last minute plane ticket? Sure! I mean, what's money and credit card debt in the FACE OF LOVE? I just won't eat next month!
So I left town, with my borrowed pickup truck and rented U-Haul, at about 8 or 9pm. And four hours later, somewhere in the vast nothingness of West Texas, I found myself sandwiched between two relatively scary men in the cab of a truck, pulling into what could easily have been named the Rape and Murder Warehouse Complex - Guaranteed to be So Far Off The Beaten Path No One Will Ever Find Your Victim! but what I had been assured was, instead, the U-Haul regional office for that area. You see, my stupid trailer had FALLEN OFF OF MY TRUCK. On the highway. Thus forcing me to call the 24-hour U-Haul help number and wait, alone, in my broken-down state, in the dark, on the side of the highway. I waited there for AT LEAST an hour and then finally, the aforementioned scary men showed up, glanced offhandedly at the mangled trailer hitch, and told me to "hop in" with them; we were going to get a new hitch, but the office was at least 25 miles from there, and so it was going to take a while.
And look, I'm still alive today!
The result of such an incident, however, is that I have no love lost for the U-Haul people and/or the renting and pulling of U-Hauls. But last month, with the out-of-town holiday show, I HAD to rent one. Cody, being well appraised of the last U-Haul pulling scenario (he being the recipient of my frantic phone calls that evening and admonishments of "if I die, here is the general area you will find me: somewhere between Sweetwater and Abilene in the back of this scary warehouse place! Make sure they play the right songs at my funeral!") kindly went to pick up the U-Haul for me, and also made sure that he was the one to attach the trailer to the vehicle in such a way so as to ensure it would remain attached for the duration of the trip. Cody even took a day off of work just to drive with me all the way to the show, and to pull the shaky, weavy trailer so that I wouldn't have to. So see, it WAS a good idea, in retrospect, to leave so late that night from college just to see my future husband 12 hours earlier. I mean, look how nicely he turned out!
Anyway, once we got to our destination and unloaded the trailer, we needed to return it to U-Haul. It was getting late in the day, however, and so when we called the "return your U-Haul" number, they told us there was only one location open at that hour. They gave us the address, we drove around for a while looking for it, and finally I called the location number and a very nice, European-sounding man answered. He not only gave us the address, but the exact location, landmarks, and a promise that he would be waiting on us and that he was very excited to see us! Which, wow, right? I mean, that's something. I can't say that I have ever given someone directions to my store with quite so much enthusiasm. I was enjoying recounting the conversation to Cody, complete with my best Eastern European accent impression, when we pulled up to the U-Haul drop-off location.
Or, should I say, the tall, falling-down-ish shack of a building on a plot of land next to two vacant lots and several cotton fields. But whatever! There were trailers there. And a large, European man waving wildly at us and grinning happily. We pulled in and this man literally RAN up to shake our hands and welcome us to his establishment. I mean, it was like we were U-Haul royalty. I can honestly say that I have never been greeted better, anywhere. He then invited us inside so that he could "do the papers" and as we walked to the door, we were followed by no less than five dogs. The man brushed the dogs aside as he pulled open the screen door and gestured for us to come in. While he was holding the screen door open for us, a couple of cats ran out and at least one or two of the dogs came in, but he seemed completely impervious to it all.
"I have many pet," he said cheerfully, as I was trying to fend off the full-frontal sensory assault that had been unleashed as I walked through the door. It seriously smelled like...well...dirt, grease, motor oil, human smell, dog smell, cat smell, human waste, dog waste, cat waste....for at least 20 years, all built up.
"Ahh, I see...errgghh" I choked.
"Here, sit! Sit. Right here, next to me!" he grinned widely, as he pulled a rusty metal folding chair next to his desk. "I need do papers now. You give me information, I type in box, we finish quickly! I learn about you some as well!"
I was still holding my breath and trying to sort of talk through my nose. "Okay! Bhat d'ya deed be to get?"
He looked at me strangely "Just yourself, lady! Come sit down, and you too, sir. You such a nice looking couple. You cannot be married yet, are you?"
We assured him that we were, and I tried desperately to think of an excuse so that I could go back outside. However, at the rate my brain cells were dying in there, I was having a really tough time. I finally thought of my cell phone, and gave some horribly convoluted reason for why I had to go get it right then, and dashed out of the room, sacrificing Cody to the stench.
About 15 minutes later, after I had texted everyone I could think of and wasted as much time as possible, I began to get a little curious about what could possibly be taking so much time inside. I crept back in, with no short of three dogs and a cat following, and they all slunk through the door with me as I rejoined the conversation.
"So, young man, this is why American government CANNOT BE TRUST. They will tax and tax until you have nothing! I have a man, and I not racist, you understand, he work for me three months and he cost me at least 35 thousand dollar. And he STILL not as big of thief as government!"
U-Haul man turned to look at me. "Hello! You come back. I not racist, okay? I just have this man, he work for me, and he take everything not nailed down! He even take my clipboards! Just like this one!" He looked around for his clipboard to accentuate his point and could not find it. "You see? They never where I put them!"
And he laughed uproariously.
I glanced at the computer screen to see how much of the form they had completed, and didn't even see the form at all. I saw some weird email. U-Haul man saw me looking at the email and decided to read it to me. It was some joke about a man wanting the pharmacist to give him poison so that he could kill his wife, and the pharmacist not wanting to until the man explained something and then haha! He did want to give him the poison after all! Laughs all around!
Next we were treated to some very sound marriage advice because U-Haul guy and his wife have been married for over 40 years and "we never say one bad thing to one another. Not one bad word at any time; never! She is angel, and we decide long ago that we not ever say one bad word, no matter what." Which is admirable, and very good advice, I'll give him that. But if that's the criteria for staying married, then Cody and I are, shall I say...screwed?
After that U-Haul man regaled us with a hilarious (to him) story about a woman who rented a U-Haul from him, declined to purchase the insurance, and ended up rolling the U-Haul into a ditch and dying. And still having all the bills from the U-Haul! And to think, all she needed to do was just buy the insurance! Wowee! That is funny! Thanks for the lesson on what great peace of mind a $25 temporary insurance policy can buy me and my family.
All this, and we were no closer than when we had first arrived at doing any of "the papers". You know when you travel to some areas in Europe, or Latin America, or the Caribbean, and you try to accomplish some sort of transaction with the locals, and it takes forever and a day? And then you get laughed at for being such a stupid American tourist, because don't you know? You're on Island Time. What's the hurry? Well, that's what this U-Haul office was operating under. Island Time.
Eventually we managed to detach the U-Haul, sign all the necessary papers, and promise U-Haul man that we would be back on Sunday to rent a trailer for the trip back home. Have you ever gotten to the point with someone, a really talky person, where you are honestly scared to ask even one question about anything because you know that if you do, you are sentencing yourself to at least ten more minutes of conversation? Well, I had a somewhat important question to ask him about pickup times on Sunday, and what time he was available, and I truly could not decide which was more important: knowing for sure that I could obtain a trailer for my trip back home, or getting out of there, right then. I opted for the safe play, and after hearing another story of how hard U-Haul man works and how the government bleeds him dry for every penny, he assured me that he would be there for me anytime, morning, noon or night. He lives on-site, you see.
The obvious thing to do, you know, would be to rent a U-Haul from ANY OF THE OTHER LOCATIONS for my trip back home. But I had promised Eastern European man I would be back, and honestly, how could you pass that up?