by Katie Toppel
The night before our container was scheduled to arrive, we saw the enormous truck parked outside our apartment building. With an early arrival, it was obviously ready for our 8:00 am appointment the following morning. Maybe it was due to that glimpse of our container or the thoughts of my clothes and shoes dancing in my head, but that night felt like Christmas Eve. I could barely sleep anticipating the unpacking and rediscovery of all our stuff!
Bright and early the next morning, we heard the bell announcing the arrival of our lovely team of deliverymen, who would spend hours with us unloading all of our precious belongings that spent the last 6 weeks floating to Germany. The man who initially rang the bell didn’t speak much English, but repeated “container” over and over just to make sure we understood his purpose and presence at our door on that particular morning. I went off to work because I figured it would be okay to put in my whopping three hours while my husband remained at the apartment, but I only got to 10:15 before his text saying, “Can you come home?!”I immediately told my partner I had to book it and luckily my position allows me that flexibility. I dropped what I was doing and ran home…literally. What I found was complete mayhem! A team of six movers were quickly unloading boxes, bringing them into the apartment and wanting to know, immediately, where they should go. The small rooms would quickly fill with stacked boxes and I could quickly see why my husband had called for reinforcements.
I have to say that many aspects of moving to Germany did not come easily to me, but the unpacking is one area where I reign supreme. If unpacking was an Olympic sport, I would be a gold medal champion. I dived into boxes, pulled out the contents, and stuffed them….ANYWHERE there was room. You see, the unpacking process is not about leisurely organizing one’s belongings in the new home. Nope, it is a complete frenzy of trying to get items out of boxes and then empty boxes the hell out of the apartment as quickly as possible in order to keep up with the pace of the delivery men who have you greatly outnumbered! If the packing was not organized in the first place, I can only imagine how much more difficult this process could be. At various points during the unpack, one of the deliverymen made comments that caused me to have a series of mini heart attacks. At first he said, “You can call the company, but there is no way we can get this all unloaded today…” – then, shortly after that he said, “this place is way too small for all this stuff, it’s not all going to fit in here…”
Finally, towards the end of the unpacking, after they had brought in the box spring, he said, “You don’t have a mattress?” to which I replied, “What? Yeswehaveamattress! Wait, there’snomattressinthecontainer?!!??”, all the while having a near panic attack. At this point he started laughing at me, told the other guys in German how he just tricked me, and they all started to laugh uproariously because it was SO funny that he convinced me our mattress was lost/stolen/missing. We had quite the comedian on our hands.
They left around noon, so his notion that it was impossible to unload the entire container must have been another part of his comedy routine, but it sure sparked me into action and I definitely tore through every box at full speed. The men kept insisting, “Ma’am, I do,” but I was a woman on a mission! There is only so much time that this team of heavy box-lifting men remain with you, so we found it best to work with haste.
Despite my initial displeasure with their mocking comedic approach to our delivery day, I have realized that, when relocating to another country, knowing how to roll with the punches is a prerequisite! There are so many changes and differences that going with the flow is an important skill to master. At the end of the unpacking madness, the dust settles, you sit down, put your feet up, and bask in the excitement of the new adventure you are beginning.