Thursday, May 8, 2008

Jed Clampett Becomes A Hoosier

Becoming a close personal friend & business associate of moving companies should never be among one's career goals, unless you actually own a moving company.

During these rough economic times most moving companies have me to thank for keeping them afloat. U-Haul, Ryder, Penske and the like have a file with my name on it. Unfortunately for them I have been mistaken for an entrepreneur or their own personal slush fund. The real reason for my repeat business is due to relationships, employment and an apparent penchant for driving big yellow (or orange), commercial vehicles cross country that scream, "Look who's Moving Now!" These remind you of when children point out the neat wildlife at the zoo to their parents. Instead they are pointing you out from the backseat of their parents' cars as they pass along America's interstate highways.

To date (May 2008) my moves include, since college: From Morehead, Kentucky to Richmond Dale, Ohio (my hometown); Richmond Dale to Grayson, Kentucky; Grayson to Evansville, Indiana; Evansville to Columbus, Ohio; Columbus to Morehead; Morehead to Murray, Kentucky; Murray to Dallas, Texas; Dallas to Newark, Ohio; Newark to Canton, Ohio; Canton to Akron, Ohio. You would also have to thrown in the moves to different apartments in Evansville and Canton. If my math is right that's fourteen moves. My stat line is pretty impressive: 10 years, 14 moves, 4 states and more than 2,000 miles. I think that makes me an all star!

Among these moves includes a 26 1/2 hour, non-stop drive from Dallas to Columbus with my brother. Yeah I've done much smarter things, but I have some way cool pictures of various road signs & such from the five state trek that document the trip. Memories are irreplaceable I tell you.

Although we passed through Dallas, Texarkana, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Louisville and Cincinnati....the most interesting was Hegh, Arkansas. When stopping for gas we were curious to know where we were since we were in a relatively remote area west of Memphis. We were told the town or village was called Hegh. The girl laughed when we didn't quite catch the name the first time she said it, apparently our reaction was not uncommon. It's pronounced something like the sound you'd make when trying to catch your breath after overexerting yourself combined with the sound of hocking up a big loogie. Those small, southern towns are so cute aren't they?

This also included a stop in Memphis to watch an Ohio State football game on ESPN at a Jillian's. We talked a security guard into letting us park the monstrous U-Haul in a spot in the parking garage reserved for emergency vehicles because the truck wouldn't fit anywhere else. We ate and watched the Buckeyes beat Washington State.

My brother was also stopped for speeding in my car, as I drove the U-Haul, by a Tennessee State Trooper. The trooper also noticed I had expired tags on my Ford Taurus. Lucking out, again, he was from Evansville, Indiana....a town I had lived in and the place where my expired tags were from. So, being friendly, we began chatting about the town and gave him the story about what we were doing & don't you know...he let us off the hook!! His advice...just make sure the U-Haul was behind the Taurus to hide the fact it had expired tags. The Volunteer State is awesome!!

At least one move did not require the assistance of a moving company per say. Instead I enlisted the help of family & friends. Already working for a small newspaper in Grayson, Kentucky, I was offered a job in public radio in (surprise) Evansville, Indiana. I set it up that my brother, Chad, would come down from Columbus, Ohio to help with the move bringing with him a rented truck of some kind & Mike, a long time friend ours.

Evansville, Indiana: http://www.evansville.net/my-bin/index.cgi

Chad & Mike arrived in an SUV-type vehicle. This as some good space, but the thought immediately crossed my mind that we could be in trouble since I had a bed, a coffee table and kitchen table & chairs among my belongings. An SUV & my 1992 Mercury Sable had no where near the needed capacity for hauling everything I had.

Just minutes into loading up the vehicles it was quite clear to all of us that my car & the SUV were not going to be enough. Lucky for us my sister was in college, at Morehead State, about 25 minutes away. Her boyfriend, now husband, Chad was down visiting on this weekend. Making it sound like a casual phone call we eventually asked, "Hey, you guys wanna go to Indiana?" As if that's something everyone does for fun on their days off. Jill could see right though us, but she and my future brother-in-law agreed.

After their arrival all the boxes and smaller items are stowed away. We then had to rig the furniture in, and on, the SUV as best we could. Imagine, if you will, a bronco/envoy-type truck with a box springs, mattress, coffee table (topside down) and kitchen table (legs removed) tied on on top of another on the roof of the SUV. The only thing missing was Grannie Clampett in her rocking chair smiling & waving to passersby. It would be funny to imagine if the move was across town or across the county using back roads & local byways. What's amazing is that we drove from Grayson, Kentucky to Evansville, Indiana. That's 284 miles along I-64, one of the major interstates in the U.S connecting six states!

I-64: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_64

To make sure my belongings wouldn't be scattered throughout the Kentucky and Indiana landscape I drove the lead car with my brother & Mike in the truck behind me and my sister and her boyfriend behind the SUV. Actually I had to drive three car lengths ahead of the truck just to be able to keep an eye on the tower of furniture top of it. Jill & Chad had to keep the same distance from behind to watch the backside of my belongings (and keep from being pelted by the possible spray of loose furniture). If I had bet money on it we would have, or should have, been pulled over at least once for being a road hazard and a danger to motorists....but it never happened. Although we did have to stop once to tighten the ropes on the load as the mattress began to flop in the wind.

The drive ended up being pretty uneventful, though I would have had enjoyed the drive a little more if I had had some company. My traveling companion was the cat belonging to my then girlfriend,"Marius"(She was a fan of the musical theatre, preferably Les Miserables, that poor cat). My brother finds it hilarious to this day...I'm not sure why....jerk.

Les Miserables: http://www.lesmis.com/

I ended up being in Evansville for a little more than a year. Despite the fact I have fond memories of the city and its surroundings, Evansville wasn't so kind. I was eventually fired from my job, had an engagement broken, was forced to attend a Jewel concert & was told by my superiors that I couldn't cut it in radio - lovely. Some good did come out of my time as a Hoosier. I saw Violent Femmes & Rusted Root in concert, experienced some cool German heritage, food and architecture & my office mate Jeff met his future wife through me.

You see when I was given the pink slip my replacement was our part-time weekend announcer and board operator Angie (fellow Ohioan). After my demise she & Jeff began hanging out which evolved into dating and led to their marriage. They now live in Louisville, Kentucky and have a son. Jeff is of Scottish heritage and their wedding consisted of the groomsmen wearing traditional Scottish grab...kilts and all. The ceremony ended with a sort of laser light show at the Kentucky Derby Museum area of Churchill Downs. That was the weirdest, and coolest, wedding I have ever attended.

Violent Femmes: http://www.vfemmes.com/bandinfo.html

Rusted Root: http://www.rustedroot.com/

Kentucky Derby Museum: http://www.derbymuseum.org/

Evansville has some rich history as a river port along the Ohio and some of that history still exists, that was enjoyable. If you find yourself in Evansville you have to find a couple of places. Gator's Hot Fish House will knock you on the floor - fantastic sandwiches! Also, right downtown, a cafe called Bits And Bytes (playing up to the business lunch crowd) has a ridiculous sandwich called the Floppy Disk. A wonderful & unique lite, yet filling, flatbread lunch time grab. A walk along the Ohio River bike path is also pretty cool, as is the Evansville Museum of Art (although I only remember being their once and it included a beer tasting in which Jeff & I got pretty toasted....we were lightweights). And don't forget to visit historic Newburgh to the East in Warrick County.

Bits And Bytes: http://www.findlocalcatering.com/Indiana/Bits-and-Bytes-8065.html

Gator's Hot Fish House: http://www.restaurantdb.net/go/restaurants/view-145412.html

Newburgh: http://www.newburgh.org/

Evansville Museum of Art: http://www.emuseum.org/

One more thing about that southwestern Indiana city. The Victory Theatre, a historic theatre the city renovated, reopened when I was living their. One of the new programs was a summer classic movie series and I was sent on behalf of my public radio station to do a story on it. We were to see "Singin' In The Rain", but it never happened. Apparently those running the projector had a hard time getting it to work and in the opening credits they MELTED the film! Those in attendance could actually watch the film be destroyed as the melting process was projected onto the screen. Needless to say that evenings entertainment was cancelled. At least we were given a tour of the old, historic facility.

Evansville's Victory Theatre: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_Theatre

Anyway, I'm happy to say my moves have become less frequent now days and every so often I get a phone call from U-Haul asking if I'm "Okay" and why I haven't moved recently, did they do something wrong? They think I'm upset with them. I just tell them I've been able to keep a job and I think their services are excellent. Though their Christmas cards have stopped coming and they no longer offer the "Craig Simpson Discount" - apparently too few people took advantage of the offer.

I'm sure a few more moves are in my future. Hopefully, that means my career is moving forward or my relationship with my girlfriend is progressing nicely. Otherwise if you have a move in your near future and need some advice, I'm also available. But be wary - I charge by the hour! ;)