If You Don't Have the Keys, Don't Pack the Truck

Illustration for article titled If You Don't Have the Keys, Don't Pack the Truck
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2010 was a transitional year for me. A three-year relationship ended in the early part of the year, we had to move out of the house we lived in and go our separate ways, and I had to figure out a new life as a single man but one with a child. Life was different in the most substantial way, to that point, that it could be. And it led to one of the most vulnerable situations I’ve ever found myself in.


In June of that year, I was moving out of the house in which we’d been living in the Michigan Park neighborhood of northeast Washington, D.C., to an apartment about a mile away. One of my boys agreed to help me pack up the house and move. Keep in mind, this was a whole-ass house that was being moved, so we had our work cut out for us. I had to be out of the house on June 10, with doors locked and keys left inside the house and was supposed to be moving into my new apartment that same day. I went and rented a 26-foot U-Haul truck (the big ass one). I drove to Home Depot and enlisted the cash only/tax-free help of some of the homies and we got to work. Keep in mind, again, I’m supposed to move into the new apartment that day.

We got started, and I remember that the biggest homie was also the most useless and though I may have paid for the services of three, only two really helped. But we got the truck fully packed up, probably around 3 p.m., with enough time for me to get to the rental office of the new place, get the keys and begin the ungodly unpacking practice. I say ungodly because the apartment I was moving into was on the third floor of a walk-up style building.

Because God has an interesting sense of comedic timing, something went wrong with my apartment. Though I was supposed to move in that day, I was going to have to wait until the next day, June 11, to move in and was only told this when I went to pick up the keys. This means that I was without a place to stay for the night and had a fully packed up truck full of all of my worldly possessions, sitting on a street.

Can we talk for a minute about vulnerability? Vulnerability is when literally everything you own is packed into one single, solitary truck and it has to sit overnight on a street and you realize that if you go to sleep and a wake up and the truck is gone, you’ve lost it all. My boy and I tried to think of where we could go only to realize that where we were was the safest and best location to keep the truck. While it was out on the street, this street was probably one of the safest and least likely to catch the eyes of a person trying to take all of my worldly possessions.

I called the owner of the house and asked if I could stay in the house overnight (on the wood floors, no less) and he said no problem, he’d just take the extra day out of my security deposit, and he sure as hell did. We set up shop in the house, I locked up the truck and said a prayer for all of my worldly possessions.

I can’t lie, I was scared as hell that I’d nod off and fall asleep and wake up and my truck would be gone. I must have ran, out loud, every scenario and reason why somebody would steal the truck. If you’re a robber, seeing a U-Haul parked on a street at 2 a.m. seems like something you have to steal. Either you hit pay-dirt or it’s empty and you abandon it. You’re already a criminal, either you win or you don’t lose anything. My boy was getting more and more annoyed at my use of the term “all of my worldly possessions” and we basically called it a night around midnight.


I’m already a pretty restless sleeper. Ever since my daughter was born, the slightest sound wakes me up out of my sleep, so all night long any time I heard anything even sound like it was close to the truck I woke up and ran to the window. Luckily, by 8 a.m. the next morning my truck was still there with all of my worldly possessions and we set off to hire a new crop of homies to help unload the truck (with a later assistance from another one of my boys). The truck was unloaded but one of the homies I hired hurt his hand so I paid extra and threw in two extra cases of Corona.

For what it’s worth, the apartment complex apologized profusely and pro-rated my already pro-rated apartment rent for the month of June and everything worked out and I didn’t lose my worldly possessions. But for a solid day, I realized just how easy it can all go and how I packaged it to be taken myself. While I was afraid fo losing it all, I also realized just how easy it can be to do so. So what is the moral of the story or the big takeaway? I think it can be summed up in an old African proverb that I just created:

If you don’t have the keys, don’t pack the truck because when the lion sleeps tonight, the hyenas will throw you off a cliff.


Thank you and good night.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



LMAO! @ your ‘old African Proverb’. You ain’t right.

On a side note, I get the ‘cash only/tax-free/bilingual speaking’ homies AT the U-Haul rental place. They paint too! They do yard work. They’re generally good people, but it’s best not to ask how long they’ve lived in the city. Awkward. lol