Anyone who has ever had to move an entire household knows what a challenging job that can be. I, myself, have had to move only once in the past 40 years, but once was enough.
It wasn’t so much the exhausting task of filling and labelling boxes or the back-breaking chore of hauling out large pieces of furniture that I disliked. No, for me it was something much more unexpected that proved to be an embarrassing experience that came with the move.
At that time we lived in a smaller house in town and were in the midst of building a new home on the farm. Everything was going smoothly and seemed to be on schedule (a foolish assumption on our part), so we put the house up for sale. It sold much quicker than we anticipated and the elderly gent who bought it wanted to take possession within a short time. Afraid to lose the sale, we agreed to the condition.
During the course of the next few weeks I tried very hard to pack up our household. But with a young child underfoot, sub-contractor delays, workers milling about and a house not yet move-in ready, the task was very difficult. Finally as possession date neared for the buyer we were forced to move, ready or not.
A day after being in our new home and living in the middle of unpacked boxes, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find a local senior couple who were related to our elderly purchaser standing there holding a cardboard box. They both wore sheepish, almost apologetic expressions on their faces. I had the feeling that they didn’t really want to be on my doorstep, but had no choice.
“I think you forgot something when you moved,” said the man. And then he emitted a sort of half laugh, half guffaw.
“Oh, did I?” I replied hesitantly.
“Yeah, I think you might need these,” he responded as he handed me the box and then quickly looked away in a manner that suggested he was avoiding eye contact.
I carefully took the box, lifted up the lid and to my horror saw that it held my most personal possessions, and I’m not talking about letters and such. In my haste to pack it seemed that I had forgotten the contents of one of the drawers in the built-in cabinets in our bedroom – a drawer containing most of my undergarments!
So, what does one say to a complete stranger who has just returned your most private apparel?
“Gee, thanks, I was wondering what happened to these things?” My humiliation was compounded by the fact that these items were not exactly the best underwear I owned. That might explain why they got left behind. I silently breathed a sigh of relief that my more private lingerie was not in that box!
However, sensing my discomfort (I think my red face gave me away, that, and the fact that we were talking about underwear) the gent tried to lighten the mood by telling a joke about a woman’s bra. Now the situation went from embarrassment to just plain awkwardness. I think I mumbled a thank-you and closed the door.
Talk about a moving experience, one that indeed almost moved me to tears!
“There was no dignified way to answer a question about your underwear.” – Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers