Need to get some furniture moved cross-country? Here's one way to do it

Obstacles that would make most people consider alternatives present my husband with opportunities for ingenuity. In moving furniture from Connecticut to Arizona, for example, he concludes that rather than hiring movers, it makes far more economic sense to buy a truck on the East Coast, load the furniture ourselves, drive across the country at the hottest time of the year and then sell the truck in Tucson.

The original plan involves flying east to buy a vehicle. Since that's the intent, hubby is certain he'll have his pick from the many vehicles surely available through the local classifieds. After two or three minutes of reflection, he decides buying one on eBay is preferable.

Wouldn't you know it, a fellow in Cranston, R.I., is selling the perfect truck. No air conditioning? No problem. And forget about having a mechanic check it out before purchase, or that Rhode Island is densely populated with Sopranos types and that Cranston boasts a restaurant called Eat With the Fishes. My husband is sure the truck is a "good deal," the seller is a "nice guy" and everything will go smoothly in this best of all possible worlds.

Though the "nice guy" ends up having our money for weeks before we arrive, he fails to get a bill of sale notarized in time for the agreed-upon pickup date. So we cool our heels on a dusty, dead-end street in an industrial part of the city while Mr. Nice Guy, who promises to be back in 15 minutes, runs off to have a notary--who happens to be a friend--make things right. My expectations head so far south, they're somewhere in Antarctica.

An hour later, we're still waiting. Meanwhile, a friend from Cape Cod who drove down to meet us, and whom we haven't seen in 30 years, also waits, and paces, and occasionally calls to ask, "What's up?" as he holes up at a restaurant across town.

After an abbreviated dinner, we get on the road much later than anticipated; it's now rush hour instead of early afternoon. On Interstate 95 fewer than 15 minutes, I spot my husband's headlights flashing--a sight I've seen so many times, it could serve as grounds for a divorce. As I pull our rental car to the side of the road, the truck bucks and lurches its way to the shoulder, only to come to a hissing stop as green fluid pisses itself away.

It is at precisely this moment, as my husband walks toward me with a sheepish look on his face, that I think, "never again." I look at my Panglossian mate as traffic speeds by us, leaving a swirl of urban debris, and I say, "This is it." He knows exactly what I'm talking about.

Through some intervention of the saints, we miraculously make it to New London, Conn., where, if all goes according to plan, we'll spend some time with friends. But before they have the rare opportunity of joining in one of our many near-legendary adventures, we make the acquaintance of two New London police officers when the truck lurches, shudders and lapses into the automotive equivalent of a coma.

Fortunately for us, the local constabulary is gracious and forms a phalanx around our disabled vehicle as we wait for AAA. Unfortunately for us, AAA doesn't cover trucks over a certain tonnage. Fortunately for us, the tow-truck driver ignores the rule and delivers the truck to a mechanic who just happens to be, you guessed it, a friend.

It gets weirder. In the midst of this screw-up, I see a real moving van slowly drive by. Like a vision from a David Lynch movie, the side of the van reads, "Experience our difference."

A couple of days and several hundred dollars later, our truck is ready to be picked up, but only to get as far as the service department of a local dealership where, my cousin assures us, the mechanics really know what they're doing. Meanwhile, my husband continues to repeat to anyone who will listen: "It's a fuel problem. Change the fuel filter."

Several days and still more dollars later, the knowledgeable mechanics conclude it is, amazingly enough, a fuel problem. They change the filter and, voila, the truck is finally road worthy. They only charge us for three hours of diagnostic time rather than the five hours they took ignoring my husband's accurate assessment. What sports!

In the long run, the truck proved itself. After some TLC (and a fuel filter), it got us, and the furniture, home.

Need a reliable truck? Have I got a deal for you.

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