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What the Bad Movers Taught Me

Mike and I had a really bad experience recently with a moving company.

In short, they broke our furniture and then insisted on making their own repairs, further damaging it to the point where it became junk.

The company’s owner offered no apology other than a belated and grudging, “I’m sorry it happened” (he obviously hadn’t read my post on how to apologize), and acted as if this debacle was happening to him rather than us.

In the end, we walked away minus some of our furniture rather than continue dealing with him.

For both Mike and me, getting untangled from a business relationship in which we felt victimized was worth more than the opportunity to hope for a settlement in small claims court after who knows how much more time and energy was spent.

I learned three things from this experience:

1. Always trust your gut. I knew the minute I looked into the eyes of the moving crew that they didn’t care a jot about us or our belongings. When they got down to work, my fears were confirmed. I had a sour feeling in my stomach the entire time they were there, and all through the fiasco of the company’s repair attempts.

2. Sometimes you can win by deciding to lose. Walking away — something that doesn’t come naturally to me — can be a win if it gets you your sanity back, even at the expense of material goods. Those can be replaced, but damage to the body from stress takes a long time to undo, and we’ll never get the time back that we spent on the whole sorry process.

As soon as Mike told the moving company’s owner on the phone to keep what was broken, it was as if a poisonous fog lifted and we were free.

3. There are more options available than you think. At first I thought I had to either accept the mover’s “repairs” or take the company to court — two equally unpleasant prospects. But when Mike had the idea of simply letting go of our damaged furniture and moving forward with a clean slate, we both immediately felt better. We were no longer victims of circumstance, but captains of our own fate.

We’re recovering nicely from what felt like a small catastrophe (did I mention the furniture they broke was supposed to be used by my mom when she comes to visit next month?). We’re sleeping well again and looking forward to the future. I even went furniture shopping the other day and fell in love with a new piece.

Lesson learned, and life goes on.

UPDATE: Less than a week after I posted this, in response to my “goodbye-and-please-keep-the-furniture” letter, the owner of the company sent us a check for about the same amount we’d paid for his services. He offered a sincere apology, and said we should put the money toward new furniture. It was an entirely unexpected display of grace, leading to Lesson 4: You never know what will happen when you completely let go.

Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."
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0 Responses to "What the Bad Movers Taught Me"

  • Debbie
    September 16, 2013 - 5:36 am Reply

    I totally agree that psychic pain costs more than it may be worth in health and well-being. But I would also feel an obligation to save others from suffering a similar fate by doing business with them.
    How can one both balance the need to let go with the obligation to “warn” others not to do business with this company?

    • Tina Gilbertson
      September 16, 2013 - 10:13 am Reply

      In my letter to the owner of the company I stated the very hope you speak of, Debbie: that this unfortunate incident might save a future customer from the same fate. I have no doubt that the owner said something to his men about their carelessness, if only because it caused a headache for him. I also like to imagine that the latest repair is sound, and that the piece will end up in the hands of someone who couldn’t afford to buy it new and will appreciate it as much as we did. But of course, this might all be wishful thinking. Thanks so much for visiting.

  • Isabel A. Spradlin
    September 16, 2013 - 9:47 am Reply

    Holy mackerel! You inspire me with your ability to let go of the whole situation. I grew up in a family where even if one of us had made the decision to let go, we still would have worried that decision like a dog with a bone. It sounds so FREEING to practice letting go when you feel like you’ve been victimized. I might have to try that some day.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      September 16, 2013 - 10:23 am Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Isabel. It was a decision born of a desperate desire to be free, and it came only after several weeks of worrying. As I think about it now, I still feel bruised by what happened. Yet another layer of innocence has peeled away — something I’m noticing more as I get older. I feel like a cube, or a block, that started out with sharp edges and pointy corners, but is becoming more rounded with every decade as it rolls through life. A painful process in those chipping-away moments, but one not without benefits; I’m becoming more of a rock than a block. And rocks roll better.

  • Heather
    September 21, 2013 - 4:57 pm Reply

    What a great lesson! You are spot on that sometimes the emotional cost would far outweigh the actual monetary costs…leads one to think about other things we could declutter from our emotional plate!

    • Tina Gilbertson
      September 21, 2013 - 5:33 pm Reply

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment, Heather. I like your decluttering metaphor.

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