Often times when people get a moving company here in China, things go pretty swiftly. It takes maybe 3 or 4 hours for a group of 4 or 5 guys to move a family's life of belongings. We had a decent time moving from our first apartment 3 years ago without much of a problem at at a price around 250 RMB (40 bucks)
There are many words that I could use to sum up our latest experience of moving out of our apartment, but the one that makes the most sense to me right now is actually two words, which when separate from each other mean two completely different things, but when put together form the sum up of the day. Those two words are "Fiddle" and "Sticks".
The back story is that we had to move out of our apartment before we leave next month. Our lease is up in October and we needed to move out now or else we'd have to find some poor soul to move all of our stuff while we are away. Considering we can rent out both apartments while we are gone, it's not such a bad thing.
So, we get a moving company. Actually, our Chinese friend gets us a sweet deal on a moving company. The only problem is that when they showed up they noticed that we have white skin aka. deep pockets. The other thing that they noticed is that we live on the 6th floor and they would have to move all of our stuff down 6 flights of stairs. I believe it was the massive wardrobe in out room that persuaded them to turn down the job. The conversation went something like this:
"Well, it's going to take 2 truck loads to get all of your stuff out."
side note: we glanced out the window and noticed that they had the "biggest truck in the world" parked by our stairwell. It was more than big enough to take everything, and since they charge by the truck we knew that they were trying to kick us in the groin.
"No, you can make it with one truck. You have a big truck."
"No, we need two."
"Fine, then you guys can leave. We'll get someone else."
The amazing thing was that they actually left. They committed to the job, and saw our big wardrobe and decided to go eat some noodles or something instead of making money.
After this, I glanced around the apartment at all of our stuff packed in bags and boxes and Barbara cried. Miles and Jonas we're in the other room watching "Nimm's Island" on the Mac. I also noticed that there was a little bit of syrup left in the syrup bottle and that we should take that to the other house since syrup is expensive. It was an emotional time.
To cut down on the story a bit, Barbara called a good friend of ours and she got us a new moving company. 步步高 is that company's name and it translates to "step, step, tall" which I would guess would mean some sort of reference to going up steps at a high level of speed and ability, along with some sort of high standard of excellence. The problem with this new company is that they sent a smaller truck with 2 dudes to do all of the work.
The guys seem like decent workers at first. However, soon enough I begin to feel like these guys are pretty lazy guys. They also aren't the smartest. That fact is supported by their inability to work together. They carried everything down 6 flights of stairs individually. Using a long strap, they are able to put copious amounts of stuff on their backs and lumber their way down the stairs. Some of their loads had to exceed 200 pounds. They might as well have carried me down in the end. A kitchen table, a marble slab, a t.v., a couch, all carried down by 1 person.
The only thing that they carried together was the massive wardrobe. It was actually the first thing on their to-do list. After they took the wardrobe down I realized that they had been gone for about 30 minutes. Upon this realization I went down to see that they had the wardrobe on the 3rd floor and were sitting down. I asked what was up and they said that there was no way to move it down from there because it was too big. I suggested that they lean it over the railing and tilt it down to the next staircase, which they did in about 5 seconds and continued on down the stairs. It was after this little episode that I knew we would have problems.
The wardrobe is down and the guys are slowly moving down the rest of the stuff.
We are across the complex at a friend's place when they movers tell us that the truck is full. We went down to meet them and walked across the complex to our new apartment building, which has an elevator. We told them to take a lunch break but they insisted on continuing the move.
They finish moving in the first truck load, so Barbara tells them to take a lunch break. Once again, they insist on continuing the move.
I go down stairs from our friend's house and up the 6 flights of stairs to the old apartment to let in the workers. They come all the way up to tell me that they are going to take a lunch break. I laugh a little bit but my heart breaks a little bit too. I told them to leave the truck and that I would continue moving stuff. I just wanted to get the whole thing finished! By that time it had been 5 hours since we started.
The guys return and slowly continue to move stuff, all the while asking if this goes or if that goes. We had told them about 5 gillion times what stays and what goes but I guess they liked asking.
They stop and look at the kitchen table:
"We can't move this. Its too big."
"My wife and I moved it all the way up here. She is a girl, my wife is. You are men."
"Okay, we'll try."
As mentioned earlier, the "we'll" meant that one of them would strap it to their back and inch sideways down the stairs. It probably took twice as long as it should have.
There is still a lot of stuff in the house and this is the time where the guys sit down and say that they are going to need to charge more money because they need to take two trucks. I knew that the first truck was kind of full, but originally these guys said that we would be charged a flat rate of 250 RMB (40 bucks) compared to the 200 (30 bucks) the other dudes were going to charge. We figured that the extra money would help cover any extra stuff that would spill over into the next truck load. However, their new price is at 450 RMB. This is when the wheels start to fall off of my patience and I explain a few things to them:
"You guys need to stop talking about money and work faster. Its been well over 6 hours since you started and I've even been helping you to try to get things done faster. Also, you scraped the side of our wall and didn't even tell us. And you want more money?!"
Then, in my angry Chinese and motions, I give an example:
"If I went downstairs right now and kicked (swing foot in the air) the side of your truck would that be my fault?"
The guy that could understand me laughed a little and then explained it to the other guy. They agreed that it would be my fault.
"Well, you scraped my wall and broke my wardrobe. And you want more money?!"
We finally agreed that 350 would be the price. The price for the worst service I've ever received in China. All I wanted was my stuff moved and it was like pulling teeth with these guys.
After that, they got to work. Their boss was calling wondering were they were, as they said that there was only 1 truck load and kept the extra 100 RMB for themselves, they kept saying that they were almost done.
The guys had to leave or else their boss would figure out that they were cheating him, so I told them to leave. Even though there we still a lot of stuff to move, the big stuff was all finished and I could do the rest on my own. So, in total, we spent 350 RMB for 2 guys to move our stuff for 8 hours and in the end I still had 10-12 armloads to carry down myself, which I did in the following 2 days.
The scrape on the wall is in our old apartment so I'm not too worried about it.
I fixed the wardrobe so it is functional, though not as lovely as it once was.
It's all over now. Bless those guys they sure were slow.