M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, July 30, 2002  

Here’s a question. It’s a bit sensitive, and I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way:

When Tim McVeigh blew up that rental truck, are we sure that the building was his real target?

Let me back up a bit.

On Sunday, my brother-in-law, his wife, and his six-month-old daughter Deniece moved to Iowa. Trash and I joined a small army of friends and relatives who had volunteered to load up the U-Haul. Everyone was there, everyone was ready, everything was packed and ready to go. Only one problem.

You guessed it. No truck. The customer service wizards at U-Haul had informed him that they should have a truck for him in about 24-48 hours. Which would work out fine, as long as he didn’t mind MISSING THE CLOSING ON HIS NEW HOUSE. Since he didn’t feel like forcing his family into homelessness to cater to the convenience of U-Haul, other options needed to be explored.

Forces were mobilized, and somehow he managed to procure the use of a truck that belongs to a friend’s dad’s ex-cousin’s roommate-in-law or something. Disaster was averted, but through nothing U-Haul did. If he didn’t have a friend whose dad’s ex-cousin’s roommate-in-law didn’t own a greenhouse that could spare a truck for a few days, there’s no telling what this might have cost my brother-in-law and his family in terms of time and money. It was bad enough that this was not exactly a moving truck, and therefore lacked a loading ramp or a truck bed with a reasonable elevation. If I’d known that I was going to have to help lift an upright piano five and a half feet straight up off the pavement, I don’t know that I’d have gotten out of bed that morning.

There were perhaps twenty people there to help with the load-out, and I’m pretty sure that all of them had a story about how they or someone they knew had been screwed by U-Haul. I’m going to use that phrase again just to make sure the search engines pick it up: SCREWED BY U-HAUL. Eventually they got on the road in their borrowed truck, looking forward to their new life of getting screwed by U-Haul in Iowa.

We told BuenaOnda (you know, the friend who’s moving to Chicago this week) what happened. She was already tense abut the move, but this news caused her to metamorphose into the Amazing Human Guitar String. She spent the rest of Sunday trying to get a hold of someone, anyone, at the rental office, to assuage her increasingly reasonable-seeming fears. No luck. By the time we met her at the bowling alley, she was emitting a constant high C#.

I don’t know if she reached anyone yesterday or not. Today is packing day. With the help of any number of people, the plan is for BuenaOnda and Astroboy to load all of their worldly possessions into the truck which will be on the road for Chicago tomorrow.

Do I really have to tell you what happened?

As I write this, BuenaOnda’s volunteers have had to abandon her to attend to other obligations, and the truck is not yet in her possession. Sadly, BuenaOnda doesn’t have a friend whose dad’s ex-cousin’s roommate-in-law can lend her a truck, and even if she did, the truck is in Iowa with my brother-in-law. U-Haul has promised her that she’ll have her truck in an hour, but I’ll be surprised if that actually happens. If it does happen, it certainly won’t be because of U-Haul’s legendary commitment to customer satisfaction. It’ll be because BuenaOnda called them on her cellphone in June and has been on the line with someone almost continuously ever since, like some kind of stressed-out Verizon guy:

“Do I have a truck now? Good! Do I have a truck now?”

U-Haul’s shameless policy of deliberately and recklessly overbooking is pissing a lot of people off, but it hasn’t reached critical mass. It’s probably still cheaper for them to pay off settlements for the breach-of-contract class action suits that get tossed at them than it would be to implement some kind of cost-prohibitive program of actually renting trucks to people whose money they’ve taken. God only knows how many people have stood helplessly in front of an apathetically powerless U-Haul employee while desperately doing the “Anyone can take a reservation” arm flail from Seinfeld. But U-Haul doesn’t care, because the impotent rage of their customers hasn’t affected their bottom line yet. And I say “yet” with a great deal of hope for a future in which my six-month-old niece doesn’t remember getting—say it with me—SCREWED BY U-HAUL.

Oh, yeah, I should probably come back to the Tim McVeigh thing. I know he used a Ryder truck. If he’d tried to rent a U-Haul for his twisted observation of the anniversary of Waco, he wouldn’t have been able to blow up the Federal Building until the following Saturday. So there’s that. Maybe U-Haul just consistently tries to torpedo people’s carefully planned moving schedules in hopes of preventing the next Oklahoma City bombing. But I doubt it.

posted by M. Giant 2:17 PM 0 comments


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