I had planned on leaving the Watervliet Arsenal after I earned my diploma from graduate school. It took me six years to do it--getting accepted, saving some cash, beating on doors for financial aid and taking the courses one at a time, so I had plenty of time to imagine what leaving would be like. I had envisioned my last day at the Arsenal as bittersweet--even poignant, but, alas, it was neither.
Friday, March 21, 1997, was my last day of work at the Watervliet Arsenal. I threw up twice before 11:00am and considering how nauseated and tired I felt, I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to throw up in the car. So I waited until lunch before I left work. I drove home and then took a two hour nap. I woke up realizing I needed to make phone calls to turn off the power, newpaper, cable television and the telephone and then somehow drive over to Ryder Rent-a-Truck to get the truck and trailer.
Terri drove me to Ryder. However, the car trailer was broken. So Terri drove back to the apartment to continue packing and I stayed until Ryder fixed the trailer. After half an hour, they decided they could not fix it. So, I said I'd get it in the morning.
I hopped into the 15-foot behemoth and gingerly drove to Cohoes. With help from friends and relatives, we loaded the truck up that Friday night and got done about 9:00pm. The next day, Saturday (3/22), was when we finished loading the truck. I still felt weak and lousy and Terri was not strong enough to move some of our heavy things. So our landlord ended up putting the mattress in the truck. Talk about lame....
After my landlord returned my security deposit, I drove the truck back to Troy to meet Terri's brother, Steve, to get the trailer. Ryder still hadn't fixed the trailer, so Steve graciously volunteered to drive the truck to Albany to get a damn replacement trailer over there. In the meantime, I drove my car and took Tabby, our cat, with me. Tabby does NOT like to ride in the car. She never did and I don't think she ever will. Unfortunately, Terri did not administer quite enough of the sedative, because she managed to soil herself before we left the Cohoes city limits.
We met in Albany, took care of Tabby's cage and then we left for Maryland. Terri's brother Kevin drove his car (with his wife and friend), Terri drove my car and Steve drove the truck. I just vegged, still nauseated, in the truck next to Steve. Steve drove the truck as fast as it would go. The governor on the engine prevented the truck from going more than 65mph. This was probably a good thing considering it was bumper to bumper traffic all the way to Maryland. Route 17 in New Jersey was particularly frightening and if it weren't for Steve's driving, New Jersey would have removed us from the human gene pool. We left Cohoes Saturday morning at about 8:00am, left Troy about 8:30am and arrived in Maryland at 6:00pm. We could have made better time, but the ladies required many pit stops.
So we showed up at the rental office and we were eager to move in and get it done. Though I thought I had all ready signed a lease, the apartment people wouldn't give me keys until I signed the rest of the lease and initialed it in 14 places. I still felt nauseated and wanted to die. So I signed away. I could have signed away my first born (not that I have one) and I wouldn't have cared.
So then came time to take the crap out of the truck ... and move it up four flights of freaking stairs. Terri's brothers did not want to stay; they were eager to go back home in New York. Since Terri and I couldn't move the furniture ourself, we had to unload the furniture before they could leave. However, the furniture was buried under all our stuff, so we had to unload the stuff first. They helped move all our stuff into the apartment, but I cursed the things I owned and I cursed even more the things Terri owned. We finally finished around 9:00pm. Our helpers left for New York; Terri and I promptly passed out.
Due to digestive troubles, all I had to eat Saturday was a Thruway burger and some Imodium AD.
Of course, the trailer jack broke; once we had taken it off the hitch, it did not want to go back on. We couldn't fix it, so, on Sunday, I called Ryder Roadside Assistance. This really skinny guy came around 4pm Sunday and repaired it. For some reason, the "repair" involved an hour of tinnitus-inducing hammering.
Now, the trick was to drive the truck about 20 miles to the local Ryder place. But first I had to drive it through the parking lot. This, unfortunately, required a hairpin turn between BMWs and Lexuses. There's nothing like driving a large vehicle among expensive cars. But before returning to Ryder, I had to put gas in the truck.
I managed to drive the truck into the gas station, but I took up alot of room. That bugged a few people. I drove it out of the gas station, then, due to the length of the truck and trailer, got into the middle lane to make a (legal) U-turn. Naturally, some idiot decided to pass me to the left and she almost got removed from the gene pool. I made the U-turn and Terri followed in my car.
We "wagon-trained" it to the Ryder place on this country road and once there, I found there was no room to park; the parking lot was jammed with other Ryder trucks. But on the property next door--a business that had nothing to do with Ryder--there was plenty of room, so I parked the truck and trailer across seven or eight parking spaces (as it was the only way to fit it in), stuffed the keys in the Ryder door slot and got the hell out of there in the "getaway car."
As for my job, I am pleased to find the entire Census Bureau building is fenced in--parking lot and all. Outside the Bureau are pawn shops, a Salvation Army sign nearby saying "no loitering, no sleeping." Next to that is a sign that says "no urinating." Just outside the fence is a sign that says, "Suitland: A Caring Community." What Suitland cares about I don't know; certainly not about all the trash strewn in the streets. The whole area looks like the alley behind Sutter's.
Days after the Washington Post reported how the Suitland Merchant Association alleged that the fence's installation ten years ago has served to kill the surrounding businesses by isolating the 9,000 Census Bureau workers inside, the chief of the security put out a memo listing the homicides (1), burglaries (1), sex offenses (2), robberies (2) and thefts (21) within one mile of this complex from January to April 1997. I doubt the fence is coming down anytime soon.
My boss Janice's advice: "When you leave work, LEAVE. Don't hang around."
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Converted from e-mail text (with some minor editing) 10/25/97