Bedbugged! I finally get the moving thing right

By Theresa Braine  | April 19, 2012 - 12:29PM
Bedbugged! is a weekly column by journalist and bed bug survivor Theresa Braine. For more, click here.

I’ve been going on about moving lately, but that’s because I’m still doing it. And because I keep running into examples of how not to do it. Now, finally, I have actually done it right, in terms of avoiding bed bugs. I think.
What I did right was hire a mover with a bonafide bed bug protocol.
I had this chance to redeem myself moving-wise when my cousin decided to cut her overhead and move to a share, dumping all her stuff. She happened to have what I lack, given that I came from a share: loveseat, microwave, some shelves, a nightstand or two, a coffee table--everything I needed to finish situating myself. Knowing that her apartment was bed bug–free, I had no qualms about accepting used items in this one case.
But once again I found myself fretting about how to move without worrying about getting bed bugs. First I stewed about whom to call. Did I give the company I had initially contacted for my New Year’s Eve move another chance? Not the people who came, but the people who I had reached out to initially, who had farmed the thing out?
Did I call the hipster-run company I had gotten a quote from, even though I knew they didn’t have any more clues about bed bugs than the dope-smoking Casanova who was part of the first mover’s team?
I even briefly entertained the idea of calling those movers who had actually been sent to me on New Year’s Eve. But I could not get past the dispatcher’s statement: “I’ve worked here for almost a year, and they've never had that kind of problem.” That is like saying you will never get the flu because you’ve never had it.
Loath to hire any of those companies, even for a small amount of furniture, but worried about the cost of someone like Moishe’s, which has a bed bug protocol, I fussed for days.
During that time, something registered in me that I’ve heard and read from lots of people.
“I can’t afford it,” people often say of things bed bug–related. They say this about hiring a pest-control operator (PCO). They say it about treating their possessions. In short, people balk at spending money on bed bug prevention or eradication, resenting the expense.
Thing is, bed bugs are expensive. And just because something is unpleasant doesn’t mean it should not cost money.
Nevertheless, I agonized. Then I decided to stop dithering and do what my mind needed to do. I made the call. Moishe’s turned out to be comparable to the other movers. And to boot, when I asked them about their bed bug protocol, they had ready, and sensible, answers.
“Our trucks are regularly treated and inspected for bed bugs,” were the joyful words I heard. Not only that, but the trucks were inspected by a third-party PCO, using a dog.

On top of that, the trucks were regularly treated regardless of inspection outcome. Moreover, fresh, clean new blankets were used for every move, the rep on the phone said. In addition, if I wanted it, I could get everything shrink-wrapped.
Given that the truck would have been inspected the night before and would have moved at most one person that morning, chances were slim to none that that one move would have bed bugs in it, or that they would transfer onto my things. So I lightened up a tad.
There are things I did not do that the 100-percent-thorough person would have done. I could have had the truck inspected myself. I could have had everything wrapped in plastic, encased the smaller items in giant plastic bags and thrown out the plastic before the things came to my apartment.  I could have had the truck and all my belongings fumigated overnight at a fumigation facility, although that would have been extreme unless they were definitely infested. 
But I chose not to go to that degree. Having done a fair amount of due diligence, and knowing that Moishe’s has a good reputation and what appears to be a fair amount of bed bug awareness (not once did the dispatcher spout that “it has never happened to us” line), I decided to trust them on this.

It was an exercise in moving past my clinging bed bug neurosis as well as just reflective of a simple desire to get it done.
I’m almost there. I’m fully furnished now and am beginning to take the rest of my things out of storage. One more carload and everything will be in one place, and unpacked, for the first time since I moved back from Mexico.

Three years to get beyond the tandem bed bug and economic crises and get decent housing.
Really New York? Really?


Theresa Braine is a NYC-based journalist and bed bug survivor whose work has appeared in the NY Daily News, People, Newsday and other outlets. Bedbugged! is her bi-weekly column about life in the trenches and climbing out with your sanity intact.

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