Thursday, August 27, 2015

Trying to Avoid a Cat-astrophe, part 2

If somehow you missed it, be sure to read Part One.

Friday, August 14. At this point we were exactly 10 days out from travel. It was my last day at work, I was dressed in an evening gown (as an office fun activity instigator, this “Fancy Friday” was my last theme at work) but I was feeling less than glamorous as the day wound on.

I googled vet offices near me to see if any listed USDA accreditation in any of their vet bios. Nope. Then I thought about large organizations that might have to deal with this on a regular basis. I called the SPCA and they had one doctor on the other side of the city that was USDA accredited. Then, on a hunch, I called my vet and asked if they had any USDA-accredited veterinarians there.

“All of them are,” the receptionist replied.

Many things (most of them expletives) went through my head. Although I was seething, I explained my situation, and she recognized my name, which only made me madder. I told her in no uncertain terms I needed an appointment right away. She booked us for the next day (Saturday) and I filled out as much of the paperwork as I could and brought it in with the boys. I left the paperwork with the vet to finish filling out and fax to the USDA office as a check against errors. They said they would call me on Monday after they heard back from the USDA.

Monday, August 17. One week till travel. I was already stressed out from getting Larry to the airport in time for his flight (oh, I need to get a prescription filled at Walgreens, oh did I mention I’m flying out of Oakland and not SFO?). The hours dragged on until finally the vet called around 4 pm. I picked up the paperwork and drove by the USDA office on my way home to check their hours. 9 AM to 3 PM. I sent them an email requesting either an appointment or instructions on dropping off the paperwork for their 24-hour turnaround review.

Tuesday, August 18. Moving day. I put up a folding screen so the boys could have the run of the bathroom and the alcove outside it while the movers were there. Hearing a strange noise at one point I looked over to see Aji’s paw curling around the screen and tugging. The screen came crashing inward and as he ran out into the chaos of five movers packing up our house, I thought, great, one cat just killed the other cat with a screen and now he’s escaping and all of this paperwork will have been for nothing.

Thursday, August 19. This was make-or-break day. The USDA had an appointment at 3 PM (um, closing time?) and I took it. If something was wrong with the paperwork, I wanted to be sitting in front of someone when I had my breakdown.

They buzzed me into the office, I handed my paperwork to the receptionist, and sat down nervously. I watched another woman and a man receive their endorsed paperwork, pay their fee, and leave in short order. A million things were running through my mind, backup plans to backup plans in case something went wrong. I didn’t have a lot of options, though, since we had an appointment already scheduled in Hamburg for our visa paperwork.

I heard a ka-chunk noise coming from the office behind me and the USDA official emerged with my paperwork, all endorsed and awaiting my fee. She even paused before going back in her office to say she was glad I was able to get an appointment in time, and she knew how stressful this all could be.

Hallelujah. It was official.

Monday, August 24. Travel day for all three of us. The boys were scheduled to be picked up at 8 AM for their early afternoon Lufthansa flight, and my SAS flight left in the early evening. But by 8:30 I was panicking—had they not booked the travel after all? Was the date wrong? Was there some other issue? I called—the driver was stuck in traffic and almost there. My nerves were clearly on edge.

I cried a little when the boys were gone. Prometheus, 15 and unruffled, had stoically adjusted to a week in the house with no stuff, while Aji, 8 and endlessly curious, had apparently had enough recent changes and ran around the house most of the night, every night, howling.

I hadn’t slept for a week, I had been stressed out for a month, and the easiest thing about the whole process to date had been selling my car. Sometime during the week the movers emailed to let us know there was a delay in the Port of Oakland and our stuff was still waiting there. We probably wouldn’t get it at this point till October 3. What else could go wrong?

Wednesday, August 26. After a 24-hour layover in the Frankfurt Animal Lounge, the boys were due to arrive. Then I got an email midmorning from the transport service asking for copies of our passports. Thankfully I happened to be in Larry’s new office with an Internet connection and emailed those to them. Then in a follow-up message they said customs needed a copy of Larry’s offer letter. After I sent that, I didn’t hear anything else. For hours.

After we finished an appointment to set up a bank account I called the transport office and was told the person I’d been working with was out and I’d need to wait to speak to him. Agony. Where were my boys?

The irony was that we didn’t have an official home yet to bring them to. The landlord wanted confirmation that our wire transfer of the deposit would go through. We had done a walkthrough of the apartment that morning and our bags were in there, but no money, no keys to get back in.

Bank of America was at a loss for what additional paperwork they could provide. In the midst of calls to them and the landlord, the transport service called to say they were outside our apartment with the cats, and where were we?

Everything was happening at once. We grabbed a cab and on the way, Bank of America confirmed that the wire transfer was final. The cab dropped me off at our complex and drove Larry to the landlord’s office to pick up the keys. I consoled the boys outside our building till Larry arrived and we staggered inside.

We were all tired and stressed and the apartment was utterly empty, but we were finally all together again, and this was our new home.

1 comment :

  1. Oy vey. Someone needs a trip to Caracalle Therme in Baden-Baden! (We went twice by train & bus. Don't try to walk there from the train station!) - Jeanine