It went about as well as can be expected, and it was still a nightmare.
I had heard stories about rickety U-Haul trucks leaving hapless renters stranded at the side of the road, but the one I rented for a move from Michigan to New York was practically brand-new. It had just 505 miles on the clock, and the cargo box was so clean it was nearly pristine-it even still had that new-truck smell. Evidently, there’s nothing like a little competition from the Penske organization to make you up your game.
The GMC box truck was the biggest in the fleet, the 26-foot Super Mover; it was also bigger than I’d reserved, but "U-Haul reserves the right to substitute a truck larger than the one reserved at no additional cost to you." A good thing, in this case. Our mover guy thought that we wouldn’t use much more than half the space, but in fact we packed it to the max.
We even used the cab and stuffed the car, but it still wasn’t enough. To our former neighbors and the gleaners who work our old neighborhood, I hope you enjoy the patio set, the BBQ grill, the ladder, the shelves, the flower pots, and the other detritus we left at the curb.
Unlike its competitors, U-Haul’s biggest truck is powered by a gasoline engine, not a diesel. With diesel fuel approaching $5 a gallon, it’s hard to know if that’s really a disadvantage. I do know that the $100 shut-off at most gas stations didn’t come close to filling the 60-gallon tank, and that our fuel bill was the rough equivalent of throwing a dollar bill out the window every other mile.
Renting from U-Haul "makes moving easier"-it says so right on the truck. But there’s nothing easy about driving that monster. The mile-long wheelbase will have you hopping curbs; backing up requires a spotter; and the loaded truck labors to climb hills. The 12-foot clearance makes for some sweaty-palms moments approaching the arched stone bridges in New York and New Jersey.
Late last night, I finally wedged the beast into a just-barely-big-enough space in the midst of a bunch of broken-down cars at the repair-shop/truck rental place, and stuffed the keys through the after-hours return slot.
I slid behind the wheel of Automobile Magazine’s long-term BMW X5, and I roared out onto the expressway, feeling tired, sweaty, and relieved, but also energized with a rush of speed and agility; after the Super Mover, that SUV was an F1 car.