Friday, July 18, 2014

I never expected cars to be so complicated...

It's true, you know, I really never thought that moving overseas with our vehicles would cause so many headaches and so much stress. It has really been ridiculous. Not all of it has been bad. There are parts of the process that have gone smoothly, and for that I'm thankful, but I could really do without all the other silly beeswax, I honestly could...

You heard me mention before that Big R's race car was not waiting for us in Atlanta as it was supposed to be. Well, I'm happy to say that it finally broke free of its three weeks in customs' hell and found its way to Atlanta. We were in the middle of a much needed vacation with family and friends out west when Big R got the news, so plans had to be changed so he could fly back to Atlanta and bring his beloved race car home. Aside from an extremely long wait, the pick up process was relatively painless compared to the awaiting its arrival. We spent over two weeks calling every other day to be told that two weeks stuck in customs was the "norm" for vehicles coming overseas. Ha! Yeah, right. We knew better, but there was little to nothing we could do about it except rejoice when it made its way to Atlanta.

I stayed behind to hang out with my mom on the ranch. There was more horsin' around to be had, and I was enjoying the bonding time. The next auto madness was related to the tracking and arrival of our BMW. The whole process was a huge mess, but I had no idea how bad it would finally get before we had the car in our possession. BMW has hired a contractor to handle the shipments. My contact started out fantastically helpful, only to have that assistance fall to the wayside. We had been told by others that they send you your invoice (yes, the hidden fees are marvelous - they pay the large chunk of shipment costs, but don't be fooled by the customs and handling fees), and provide a tracking database to you within that first week or so of shipment. We somehow didn't get any of this information until the BMW was ETA into port.

The data tracker made me feel like the hugest idiot. Don't you hate that? Maybe I am missing a few marbles, but you'd think a couple of attorneys could figure this stuff out. The mere fact that the instructions state we would have a 9 digit number linked to all the information, and a 7 digit number for customs, was compounded by a few extraneous digits and inconsistent information across both of them. I was making myself blind trying to read the thing. My mom defintely thought I was losing it. I made sure to fill out the paperwork to pay the invoice with the hope the BMW would arrive any day. The hope work, but the payment did not. When the BMW was released, we weren't any closer to having our payment processed nor did we have any clearance documents. I felt like I was constantly on the phone and emailing these folks and it was getting us no where.

I know you are wondering how this got all crazy balls on us at the last minute, because it exploded into a mess of colossal proportions. Big R is buried in in-processing appointments and a need to expedite things to get to work. The army doesn't mess around when it decides it needs its lawyers. I have two kids - enough said, this lady wasn't heading to port to collect a vehicle with these crazy bears.

I called to check on the status and our contact informed me the documents and payment would be wrapped up in the next hour. Big R made his arrangements and noticed the flight was $75 cheaper than it had been the last two days, so he bought his ticket to Charleston to get the BMW out of port. We knew better, we really did because nothing in this process has gone as it's supposed to. By the next morning, the credit card hadn't even been charged yet. Not a good sign. Big R was long on his way. Turns out the card was denied (thanks a million USAA, your timing was impeccable on this one), and yet no one informed us despite our sharing the plan that we were heading to port the following day to collect the car. Oy... It gets better... I know, your thinking, dumb, how could we go without documents, but the afterthought is much more hasty than the reality at the time.

I'll make this part of the story quick, despite our rep being MIA, we managed to get updated credit card info to the company and our clearance papers were released. Big R grabbed a cab to downtown Charleston from the airport (which was built before the civil war and is apparently an old disaster of an airport), and walked to the port.

Let me back up just a tiny half beat of a second to let you in on what I was doing while Big R was handling this side of the arrangements. I was packing up to leave Vegas and my mom after an amazing vacation. We used frequent flyer miles because is has gotten painfully expensive to fly in the US (I had no idea how spoiled we were in Europe), and it was a red eye flight... Kind of... It left at 1am PST, stopped in Houston for a super fast layover, and then went on to Nashville to arrive at 9am CST. That sounds painful even to the most able of moms, and to add insult to injury, baby c decided to wake us all up at 5am and then refuse to let any of us nap later in the day. Needless to say, I was seeking Wonder Woman strength to make it through.

We beat the rush at the airport, just in time for the boys to melt down at the gate. We walked onto a very full flight to find out we were sitting next to "that guy." You know, the one you always pray is not sharing your seat. He looked liked the guy from American Choppers (you know the show, I know you do), covered all over in tattoos, and reeking of booze. At several points during the flight I was certain he was going to ralph, but he managed to hold it together. He was a huge person, and my boys could contain themselves no more. Until 20 minutes into the flight when they both decided to give into the exhaustion, I was seriously having an out of body experience. Pure mayhem. But it ended. I had to pull poor little r to our connecting flight on the opposite end of the terminal while he cried from exhaustion, only to collapse in a chair and fall back asleep.

We were crazy tired when we got home, so I wasn't ready for the afternoon to up the anty on me. Let's flash forward again.. Big R is walking to the port from a Kinkos downtown (yes, he walked because he's nuts like that), and he gets to the port only to find out he's missing some critical number. This stupid number is so important, they won't even let him into the port without it. This is when things started getting really fun. Our rep remained MIA, so I had to do all the coordinating with an employee that was trying her best. Big R was in the meantime negotiating with the port staff to first get inside the gates and then to lower the military boom that sets the urgency clock in motion. Whether we like it or not, duty calls, right? Well, between that and his charm it somehow worked. He won them over. This was a good thing because the company I was working with was clueless. She had me convinced for awhile this whole deal was our fault because we really had them in a bind. Well, hey, try informing your clients when payments don't go through and then disappearing with the laptop that contains all the necessary information, and then tell me again it was us that caused the bind. Yeah, I'm not even going there...

I probably would have been more calm except that we were about 45 minutes now from the port closing on a Friday. Baby c had thankfully been napping, but he woke up with a crap-loaded diaper about 15 minutes before our deadline. How do that do that?! It's uncanny!

I'm mid-wipe on a screaming child when she calls to tell me she can get the much needed number but it'll cost us $100 and there is no guarantee we'll get the port to stay open to get our car out that day. I'm sure you can picture how I took that. She said she thinks it would be best if we waited until Monday to go back when her coworker was back in the office. Obviously she was in way over her head and had no idea what to do. But yes, we live down the street from this place and can effortlessly hang out until Monday. The woman hadn't thought this through nor was she aware of the repercussions of her suggestion. I'm racing from room to room doing that horrible thing mothers do and never like to admit it when they are trying super hard to handle business on the phone with a screaming child attached to my ankles, poor baby c. Didn't help that little r was being a maniac. It was pure mayhem in my house, and the timing was horrible.

At this point Big R's phone had died. Yes, seriously, it was dead as a door nail. I had to call the dock office to try to find him. Turns out Big R's charm had the entire port staff working to get his car out of hock. Nicely played, honey. The dock supervisor was livid and could not believe the shipping company was going to charge us to do their job. Ah, hell, I just wanted my car! Long story short, the port staff found us a freaking number and got our car out of port without charging us a penny. We're sending them at least one fruit basket and a crap load of chocolate. I mean seriously, what a colossal mess!

Ok, so we now have both cars, we are still waiting on two shipments that will start this week. I'm down one glass of wine with my body half into bed, and Big R is refueling with old friends stationed a short drive from Charleston. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I could really use a few less surprises and I'm ok with not having any more days like this one anytime soon.

Here's to more stories and madness to share because my life is never a full moment!






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