PCSing Confessions


PCS Confessions, boxes

Moving from Germany to the USA: Confessions of a First-Timer

Is this process ever easy?

Our time in Germany is coming to a close but luckily we have been so busy with the moving process we haven’t had time to be sad. That will come later. In the meantime, I experienced my first Army move. All I can do is hope that the next one will be easier now that I know what to expect.

As a newly married couple we didn’t have much to ship since most of my stuff is in storage in the states. The two movers came in the morning with boxes, wrapping paper, and tape and dispersed into different rooms. I felt weird hovering, so after a couple of minutes, I went and sat in a room they weren’t using and hung out with Brett. We’d check on them periodically, but for the most part I didn’t watch what they were doing. It wasn’t until after they left that I found out that you really should watch them pack your things or you might wind up with things getting stolen. That was my first mistake and it was all downhill from there.

Please don’t wreck my bed!

Next, I asked for our brand new bed mattress and upholstered fabric headboard to get wrapped up before being put into the crate and then didn’t watch to find out whether it actually did. Mistake number two.

Later, one of the movers broke the glass of a huge poster frame from Ikea while wrapping it up…against another frame with glass. I don’t know why he wasn’t wrapping them separately, but even though that was early in the morning, I still didn’t go back to hovering over them as they packed. Mistake number three of the day.

Other mistakes include not counting how many boxes there were, not keeping an inventory of DVDs, and the greatest fail of almost shipping our passports. No doubt I will later learn of other mistakes from that day and that was only the first shipment of things. For overseas moves in the Army, there is another shipment called Unaccompanied Baggage that allows you to keep smaller items until right before you move that will then travel by plane. You’d think I would have been more prepared for this second shipment of a few small furniture pieces, dishes, bedding, towels, etc. Not quite.

It was only one mover this time and he went through the few rooms like the Tasmanian Devil. We were still finding things to give him to box up and he’d already have taped the boxes shut. He didn’t seem to speak much English, but when Brett brought him our pillows we forgot to pack, he very clearly said, “You want this packed, too? Come on, man! I already finished this one!” We were slightly unprepared…and I’ve lost count of my mistakes.

Such a mess!

The weekend prior I’d gone to Boleslawiec, Poland with some friends and bought beautiful Polish pottery. When it came time for the mover to tornado over to that area of the house I hovered like vulture and struck as soon as I heard it clink against the dishes in the box. I politely asked him to use even more paper to pad it. He looked at me like I was crazy but complied. Then he went to wrap a stack of dessert plates without putting any paper in between them.

So I jumped in again, requesting he put paper in-between them. He actually said, “No…” and made an impatient gesture as if to say, “they’ll be fine! I’m a professional!” I asked again though, emphasizing that “I really don’t want them to break.” (Honestly, does this statement seem necessary? Can any owners of pretty dishes out there back me up on this?) Grumbling, he did what I asked. Feeling pretty good about taking responsibility for my things, I gave myself props for speaking up. It wasn’t until I helped take boxes to the moving truck that I saw two ginormous rolls of bubble wrap. Yes, he could have used bubble wrap. Did I mention that all the pottery is in one tall, heavy box? If it topples over, that’s the end. Sigh.

Halfway through, someone from the Army came over to check on the process and evaluate the move briefly and I learned that the mover was supposed to have a crate in his truck and would seal the crate in front of us. There is no crate. He said he’d do it at the warehouse. Sigh. Did we send him back to get a crate? No. Did I know this was an option at the time? No. Alas!

Will our things arrive in one piece? Will everything from the second shipment arrive in a sealed crate? Will we even know if anything is missing or stolen? Only time will tell. Do you have a moving story or tip? I think I’d better start preparing for the next move now!

Note: Michelle originally posted this article on her site, but has graciously shared it with us here as well.

2 thoughts on “PCSing Confessions

  1. Life Lessons of a Military Wife says:

    Remember during your moving appt, you will be given the cell # of your liaison person at the transportation office. He is your quality control and muscle. Put him on speed dial! They most definitely should be putting paper between plates!


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