So how did a guy from Oregon and a gal from Boston get to North Carolina? Well, Leah and I both completed graduate school as 2016 ended. We started applying to jobs right away, and Leah got one in Greensboro. That’s the story, simple as pie. But how did we actually get here, as in get here, you might ask? Well to answer that question, we drove a U-Haul. And specifically, I drove a U-Haul, though that isn’t to complain—it was a lot of fun. So it’s fair to say I was “along for the ride” in terms of the reason for the move, though not accurate for the literal move itself. In terms of the latter, I was the ride, of which I am quite proud.
After settling in NC Leah went to work and I started scouting out schools. Eventually I resumed being a high school English teacher, which was a nice change after working at the college level. But first, we had to get a U-Haul. We had to drive down to Greensboro from Washington DC, which is about five hours with no stops. We were staying with Leah’s mom at the time, and that was a lot of fun; I saw a many of the DC sights and attended a great writing conference. Once Leah’s job was secured we grabbed our clothes (not too many) and our things (a cabinet and two end-tables) and called up U-Haul, and that was an adventure in itself.
We had Leah’s car at the time, which was almost enough, but every single small and medium U-Haul vehicle in the DC area was seemingly taken. It didn’t matter who we talked to or what we looked at online; we had to get a full-sized rig. Our belongings didn’t even fill it a quarter up and Leah’s thirteen-year-old nephew wanted to throw a party in the back (and could have, since it was empty). When I drove it I felt like I was navigating a wheeled barge, and the thing was so heavy that I could see the gas tank indicator go down in real time. Would I do it again though? Well yes, because I like adventure. Next time, however, I would have that party in the back.
But to briefly return to renting that U-Haul. So U-Haul sort of has a business model like Redbox. There are very small pick-up and drop-off locations all throughout cities. When we checked out our U-Haul from a convenient store, the worker said there were plenty of smaller models available. Yet since we were already in the system we couldn’t change our order. By the way, at Redbox you can always change your selection at the kiosk, and online you can always see a kiosk’s true inventory. I don’t hate U-Haul, because after all they made our move feasible, but it is weird to me that Redbox is a better organized company.
Despite the problems, driving a U-Haul is engaging (even more than watching a DVD). I’ve driven a lot of farm machinery before, but never on a freeway—what a thrill. Leah would drive ahead of me, leading the way, and when we needed to shift lanes I’d put on my blinker. She’d “clear a path” and I’d follow behind and the system was a lot of fun. It rained for most of the drive down so conditions kept me on edge, but with wet and foggy windows no one could see me working on my will-you-marry-me speech. As I was thinking of what to say I kept tearing up and it was embarrassing, though that’s a story for a different post.
–Jeff and Leah