PCS Vigilance

My husband had five duty stations in his first five years of being in the Army. I thought we were PCS pros. Moreover, nothing had ever gotten lost and nothing really had ever been damaged ... at least nothing worth filing a claim over: one wooden sewing box here and one drawer knob there. Our overseas PCS didn't go entirely smoothly -- our belongings took three months to get delivered on both ends of the tour -- but nothing was lost or damaged. I didn't see what all the PCS fuss was about.

Until this last move.

At this point, my husband was TDY in another state. He planned to come home and clear post in a week and we'd take off. We also had an 18-month-old, an age where the child is old enough to run around and get into everything but not old enough to want to sit still and watch TV. We had planned for my mother to fly out to entertain our daughter while the movers were at the house, and then my mother would drive our second car halfway across the country for us so we could travel as a family in one car with our kid and dog. We had it all worked out.

Until Murphy decided to accompany us on this particular PCS.

Two weeks before our PCS, my brother was rushed to the emergency room and was about one heartbeat from dying. My mom couldn't very well leave his side just to help make our PCS run more smoothly. In addition to being emotionally stressful for me, this event also left us out of luck on the plane ticket we'd bought my mom and up a creek with what to do with our second car.

And I learned I'd miscarried our baby the same day. Which led to complications. Which led to me having to have an emergency D&C two days before the movers came to pack out our house. While my husband was clearing post. And arranging to sell our second car so we didn't have to drive separately.

So .. .we call a friend and beg for some babysitting while I'm in surgery, and my husband drops me off at the hospital and goes to finish getting signatures on his clearing papers and to get an offer from CarMax.

I tell you all of this to let you know my frame of mind once the movers came: it was a big fat case of I Don't Care. I don't care how you pack anything, I don't care what scratches you say are already on my dresser, I don't care what you label that box.

I don't care. Just get us out of here.

What could possibly go wrong?

So, apparently our first five PCSes were anomalies. Loads of things went wrong this time, we discovered when we started unpacking on this end.

They broke our bed but didn't want to pay for it because they had written it was already broken. Well, we had a complete bed frame at the old house and now we have a mattress on the floor, so I'd say something happened in transit. I also discovered odd entries in the log of items, such as "white thing" and "bagged thing." Ugh, what a pain to figure out what those were and try to figure out if they were missing. Lots of the little stickers the movers use had come unglued in transit, so many boxes didn't have stickers. Plus, several boxes were just missing, including our TV, our surround sound system, and a box of 100 DVDs. Hmmm, seems like someone who works in the warehouse wanted to have a movie night.

Six months later, it's mostly been ironed out. They "found" our TV (it still seems fishy to me), paid us for the surround sound, gypped us on the bed but paid for a broken desk I didn't care about so that basically evened out, and we're still negotiating over their lowball offer on our box of DVDs.

And what I learned from my fifth PCS is this: Even if you're in surgery, even if your kid is driving you nuts, even if your husband is nowhere to be found, even if your brother is fighting for his life in a hospital ... you still ought to care about your PCS.

I should've followed the movers around and looked at the ridiculous things they were writing on that list. I should've taken more photos of our belongings. Thank heavens a few weeks before we were leaving, I lazily snapped some photos of the DVD shelf just in case. That "just in case" was worth a thousand dollars. Too bad I didn't do the same thing of my closet because an entire box of sweaters went missing, and it's like they deliberately lost the most expensive sweaters I owned.

I should've documented more and been much more vigilant, but we'd had so many easy PCSes, and our movers were so friendly and nice, and my life was so chaotic that week that I just blew it off and assumed everything would be fine.

So, note to self: don't make that mistake again on your sixth PCS. Post-surgery or not, I will be hovering over those movers like a shadow. I will buy them pizza ... and then nitpick every little thing they do.

But heavens, I hope our sixth PCS doesn't have as much Murphy as the fifth one did!

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