There are no stupid questions, right?

An associate once walked in my office and said, “I know there are no stupid questions, but….”

And before he could get started with his actual question, I stopped him.

“Actually,” I said. “There are stupid questions, but you should feel free to proceed if you feel like you still need to have your question answered by me.”

It was clear he was not amused, and I admit it was harsh, but come on, we ALL know that there are stupid questions and it tends to be the same people who are always asking them, right?

I’m not saying all basic questions are stupid by any means.  But what drives me nuts are the people who ask me questions rather than look in the very obvious places where they are likely to find the answer (for the associate: the rules of civil procedure where many answers asked by young litigation associates can be found).

question markSo here I sit, mind a-whirl with, you guess it, stupid questions.  Or at least I perceive them to be stupid because I’m quite sure that out there in the hundreds of pages of information that has been sent to us in the last few weeks the answer is waiting.  No doubt it is lying around happily in some government document wearing a neat little red and white striped hat just waiting for me to find it and be enlightened.

The problem is that I’m running out of time to ferret out each of these hidden answers. All the information becomes blurry when I stare at it for too long so I’m left with two choices: (1) either ask someone my, no doubt, stupid question, and hope they are nicer to me than I was to my young friend above, or (2) don’t ask and end up with a SNAFU (hey, another acronym!) that takes way more effort than I want to impart to fixing it.

Here is the type of stupid question I’m debating: “do I need to remove dishes, silverware etc… from my kitchen cabinets or will the movers really do ALL the work and pack them straight out of the drawers?” I just cannot fathom that someone will actually come into my kitchen/den/dining room and do all the difficult and miserable work of wrapping and packing the dishes, books etc… for me.  Even when the answer appears clear, as in this question, I just can’t believe it.

My parents moved a lot – forget about moving from England to Canada, once we got to Canada they have, to date, moved at least 12 times.  Mostly within the same city.  And I’ve moved probably 10 times since I left home (not counting when I moved back home), and not once did I use an actually “moving company.” So not only did I do all the packing, but we rented the U-Haul and dragged our furniture from one apartment, city, house to another, usually roping friends in with the promise of beer and pizza.  Now you’re telling me that, except for the boxes we’re taking with us, someone will hire and pay other people to pack every last stick of furniture, every knife, fork and spoon, and all our many books, and will then take it somewhere and store it for us before we get sent to our first post and we get to demand either 7,200 lbs or 18,000 lbs of the stuff back again!?  Crazy talk.

Our “packout” is now scheduled for August 19.  Sometime before then the movers designated by the USG will show up at our house and “assess” the length of time it will take them to pack, how many boxes and crates, as well as paper and tape, they will need, and what special care they will have to take with certain items.  And then, from what I can gather, our job will be to stand back, maintain an inventory of what is going in each box, and supervise while they do the hard work.  For a girl who has been moving herself for almost 30 years this sounds like a dream come true.

Hmmm...what to pack?

Hmmm…what to pack?

And so, when they arrive for their assessment, my words to that young associate are going to come back to bite me, because I know, without a doubt, that I’m going to be asking them many, many stupid questions.

What is it they say about karma again?


5 thoughts on “There are no stupid questions, right?

  1. The answer to your (not stupid) question is yes, the movers really do all the work. In fact, if you are not careful, they will pack up things like a kitchen trash can with a full bag of garabage inside. They pack everything in sight and they take it out of the cupboards and drawers. We’ve only been through two pack outs, but if I can answer any questions for you I’d be happy to try! I just found your blog the other day and I’m really enjoying it. Congraulations on joining the FS!


    • Thanks Jenni – I really enjoy your blog too – and it has already answered several questions for me (as well as given me an opportunity to enjoy your adorable pictures of Abby and reminding me of C’s early days). I may well take you up on your offer to answer other questions – thanks!


  2. I heard from my fellow classmates and their experiences with packing out and it was a mixed bag. If you want your stuff to be organized and easy to decipher, you have to be very proactive. You also need to watch your packers like a hawk. I had no qualms telling them not to pack certain things together or with less paper. At the end of the day it is your stuff. Think of yourself as their supervisor that day, you should be the one dictating the end result, without being a dictator 🙂

    I also told my movers how I wanted everything done before they touched a box.

    My UAB is coming today, so we’ll see if everything got here in one piece!


    • Thanks Diplohoma – your packout post was awesome and answered a bunch of my questions. I generally consider myself a pretty organized person, but by the looks of your garage and your inventory sheets I have a long way to go. I’m looking forward to finding out where your first post will be – and perhaps we’ll get to meet in DC since we’ll be arriving about 24 days after your Flag Day!


  3. Moving is the toughest part of the job. I’m starting my first 3 year tour and not having to worry about packout for a while is one of the best parts (being in Vienna doesn’t hurt either). I’ve had 4 packouts in the last 3 years and that was rough (pro tip: don’t do back to back one year tours followed by another year in language training.)

    The quality of movers varies drastically around the world. Our Ukrainian movers labeled most of our boxes (in Russian) “things.” We also have at least one broken thing arrive every time. That is the price you pay. Still, I’ll trade a broken glass or clock for not carrying a few thousand pounds of things up five flights of stairs.


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