Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hello neighbor, could we borrow a cup of … crowbar?

Every few days we’ve received deliveries of furniture, dishware and electronics from local and online stores – replacements for things we chose not to ship. Amazingly, each item has made daily life so much easier. Who would have thought crisping bread in a toaster would ever feel luxurious?

And last week, we got word from the company delivering our household goods from the states that they’d be here on Friday. Great, we’d climb a major rung of domesticate living ladder, we thought.

But as the saying goes, anything worth having is worth the work (or something like that). We had assumed we’d ordered a full service delivery to our apartment. But here’s what we got:

Enter the wooden crates...yes WOODEN CRATES.
At 5:30 p.m. - just after dark - the crates arrived. And here I thought only vampire coffins and cursed museum relics came in wooden crates.

The crates were about 2,5 meters (over 8 feet) tall...and a gazillion pounds
The “movers” turned out to be a freight shipping company. So after they helped Thomas wheel them to our apartment entrance way, they left us with the sealed, metal-band-reinforced crates. And to adding to our stress level was the German concept of Ruhezeit (where you shouldn’t make noise after during certain hours, like after 8 p.m.). Yeah…busting splitting timber and carting boxes and furniture up several stories won’t make noise.

Crate 1 of 2.
So, we stood there for a few minutes looking up at the rectangular monsters blocking half the sidewalk. At least it wasn’t snowing.

Then it started snowing.

I knew our neighbors across the hall had been doing a lot of interior construction, so what better time to introduce yourself than when you need something…especially something as common as a crowbar…or better yet, a chainsaw. Unfortunately, they had neither. They also probably think we’re insane now. Super.

But somewhere along the way, we must have earned some moving karma points. Another neighbor (the husband of Thomas’ co-worker who also lives in our building) had a small, manual handsaw and – more importantly – a willingness to help.

For the next two hours, Thomas tore the crates open, board-by-board. Then the three of us hurried all of the long-awaited contents out of the snow and into the building.

One to go
We finished around 8:30 (slightly breaking the sacred Ruhezeit, but too tired to care).

The next day...

Even though our belongings were safely inside, we still had to deal with the empty and now unstable crates looming outside. Unlike in the U.S. where we usually just pay someone to cart of large amounts of waste, in Munich, you’re on your own…unless you give at least a week notice. And don't even think about taking wood to the regular trash. There's a special handling facilty for that, of course.

The morning after
So while I spent most of Saturday unpacking boxes inside, Thomas spend about seven hours tearing down the crates and stashing the wood in our underground parking spot. It's a good thing we don’t have a car. But maybe now we can build one…out of wood. Oh wait, I just remembered, we hate wood now.


  1. Hello Hello!
    I m so glad to have found your blog via twitter! I m a Canadian gal who fell in love with a Berliner and is planning a move to Germany! Looking forward to your posts!

  2. @Oneika - Thanks! :) Lots of luck with your move!

  3. Ami,
    Thanks for all the great insights. I'm moving to Southern California to Munich (Graefelfing actually) next month with my wife (German) and your views and experiences are really helpful:-) Cheers!

  4. Also, our 3 year old Daughter's name in Amelie, or Amie for short:-)